A grab bag of items from the last few days:
Remember when members of Congress would lobby for shuttle orbiters to be located in the states or districts? Now that the locations for the orbiters have been settled (and the complaints from those who lost out have died down), some members are turning their attention to something a little different: the timing of when shuttle orbiters head to their ultimate destinations. The Orlando Sentinel reported Sunday that Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), as well as Reps. Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL), have asked NASA administrator Charles Bolden to time Endeavour’s departure from KSC so it coincides with the nearby Cocoa Beach Air Show. The airshow is slated to take place September 22-23, while current schedules call for Endeavour to leave for California on its 747 carrier aircraft on September 20. The air show’s promoters hope the inclusion of the shuttle will increase attendance—and ticket sales—“exponentially”, although the promoters add that most people who see the air show don’t buy tickets.
The Sentinel also reported this week that Congress seems willing to support, and fund, a new mission for a notorious grounded satellite. NOAA is seeking $23 million this year to help prepare the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft for a launch as soon as 2014, and is getting support in Congress in large part because it carries a much-needed instrument to monitor solar weather conditions. DSCOVR started in 1998 as Triana, a spacecraft proposed by then-Vice President Al Gore to provide live full-disk images of the Earth from the earth-Sun L1 point. Derisively dubbed “Goresat” by critics, the spacecraft was stuck in storage for about a decade after its launch was blocked by Congressional critics skeptical of its scientific value. (DSCOVR has been proposed as a potential mission for “new entrants” to the Air Force’s EELV contract, such as SpaceX or ATK.)
Former astronaut Jose Hernandez is running for Congress, but on Monday he was doing a different kind of running: participating in the Olympic torch relay in England:
2day I’m proud to represent the Central Valley by carrying Olympic torch at 10 am in Bletchley. C it live at london2012.com/torch-relay
— Jose Hernandez (@Astro_Jose) July 9, 2012
He didn’t mention how he was selected to be a torchbearer, but in another tweet, in Spanish, he did say he was there “thanks to Samsung”, one of the presenting sponsors of the torch rely. His bio on the Olympic website, interestingly, identifies his hometown as Houston; it may have been compiled before he officially moved to the central California district he seeks to represent in Washington. “José is an exemplary Mexican,” his bio, written by an unnamed nominator, reads, “who doesn’t believe in barriers to reach once [sic] dreams.”