Neuroscientists Say This Drug May Be the Secret to Curing the Effect Space Has on Memory

NASA has been dealing with fears over ‘space madness’ for decades, but in all those years, there have been a grand total of zero “freak-outs or psychotic breaks” in astronaut crews. It turns out, however, that potential mental breakdowns may not end up being caused by claustrophobia or paranoid thoughts—cosmic radiation may be enough to mess with astronaut’s heads, especially when it comes to memory loss.

Experts are now worried that cosmic radiation memory loss could be the real problem in exploring Mars and beyond in the future. According to Susanna Rosi, the Director of Neurocognitive Research At the UCSF Brain and Spinal Injury Center, “We are starting to have evidence that exposure to deep space radiation might affect brain function over the long term.”

Read more at: Outer places

New Helium Tank for SpaceX Crew Launches Still Waiting to Fly

SpaceX is still working on a new, safer helium tank design needed for launches with astronauts, and the debut of the company’s upgraded Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket earlier this month did not count as one of seven successful missions in “crew configuration” NASA says it requires before putting astronauts aboard the vehicle, officials said Thursday.

The update on the development of the Falcon 9’s new helium tank, which is scheduled to fly for the first time later this year, came a week after members of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said they were getting more comfortable with SpaceX’s plan to load the rocket with super-chilled, densified propellant with astronauts strapped into their Crew Dragon spacecraft on top of the vehicle.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Coolant Problems Found on GOES 17 Satellite

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found a performance problem with an instrument’s cooling system on the GOES-17 spacecraft. The satellite was launched March 1, 2018, atop an Atlas V 541 rocket.

The issue was discovered during the commissioning of the spacecraft’s Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument. When engineers were conducting the on-orbit checkout phase of these tests, the ABI did not start up properly. The cooling element, which NOAA has described as an “integral part” of the system, will now be studied so as to find the cause of the issue by a team from NOAA, NASA, as well as the ABI contractor.

“The issue with the instrument is confined to the subset of the channels of the instrument,” Steve Volz assistant administrator for NOAA’s satellite and information service said during a media call that was held on Wednesday detailing the issues with the ABI. “The ABI has 16 different spectral channels and the infrared and near infrared channels are affected by this cooling channel issue. The visual channels, the three short-wave channels below one micron length are not affected and are functioning as expected.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

NASA Finds a Solution for Repairing the Curiosity Rover’s Busted Drill on Mars

While Curiosity has been an effective Mars rover, both in what it’s discovered and how it’s become the anthropomorphized public face of NASA’s Mars missions, it’s journey has hit some bumps.

Back in 2016, an odd technical glitch caused Curiosity’s drill to break down, and it never completely recovered. NASA engineers have been experimenting with possible fixes, but it’s more complicated when the hardware is on another planet and you can’t do much besides transmit more software. But they may finally have a fix ready to go.

Perhaps it’s more of a workaround than a true fix, but the results should ideally be the same: Curiosity will soon add some “percussion” to its drilling process with a new method called Feed Extended Drilling (FED), which involves the rover using its robotic arm to push down on the drill with a hammering force while the drill bit works.

Read more at: Outer places

Cygnus Arrives at Space Station with 7,400 Pounds of Fresh Supplies and Science

Orbital ATK’s un-crewed Cygnus cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) this morning, following launch from Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia on May 21. Expedition 55 Flight Engineer and NASA Astronaut Scott Tingle successfully captured Cygnus using the Space Station’s Canadian-made robotic arm (named Canadarm2), and was backed by fellow NASA Astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, who both conducted a 6.5 hours spacewalk last week.

The spacecraft is named in honor of former NASA Deputy Administrator and senior Orbital executive James “J.R.” Thompson, who died last year, and its arrival marks Orbital ATK’s ninth successful berthing with the orbiting laboratory.

Following arrival and capture, Cygnus was bolted into place on the Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 8:13 a.m. EDT, where it will now spend about seven weeks before departing in July. Onboard is about 7,400 pounds of cargo, supplies and scientific experiments to support Expedition 55 and 56, including research investigations in quantum physics, advanced genetic sequencing of micro-organisms and liquid-liquid separation, together with a group of deployable CubeSats for Earth science, laser communications and astrophysics.

Read more at: America Space

China Upgrades Spacecraft Reentry and Descent Technology

China has successfully tested its new space program’s reentry and descent technology, which makes landing heavier spacecraft possible.

Current spacecraft landing methods such as parachute and airbag landings can not satisfy the deceleration needs of heavier manned spacecraft reentry missions, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The CASC successfully conducted three experiments, involving upgraded parachute and airbag landing techniques as well as the inflatable reentry and descent technology (IRDT). It published the test results on its website earlier this week.

Read more at: Xinhuanet

Why We Won’t Get to Mars Without Teamwork

If humanity hopes to make it to Mars anytime soon, we need to understand not just technology, but the psychological dynamic of a small group of astronauts trapped in a confined space for months with no escape, according to a paper published in American Psychologist, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association.

“Teamwork and collaboration are critical components of all space flights and will be even more important for astronauts during long-duration missions, such as to Mars. The astronauts will be months away from home, confined to a vehicle no larger than a mid-sized RV for two to three years and there will be an up to 45-minute lag on communications to and from Earth,” said Lauren Blackwell Landon, PhD, lead author of “Teamwork and Collaboration in Long-Duration Space Missions: Going to Extremes.”

Read more at: Apa

How to Get to Mars Without Going Mad

The technological challenges involved in sending a crewed mission to Mars are daunting, but new research highlights the need to focus on the psychology of spaceflight to prevent world’s first Mars explorers arriving at their destination stark raving crazy.

A paper in the journal American Psychologist reviews the already extensive research done by NASA into the psychological trials that come with being an astronaut, and concludes that there is still a hell of a lot of work still to be done.

The central problem for would-be Mars travellers is that early missions will comprise a team of people confined in a tin can about the size of a small Winnebago for two or three years. During this time, communication with family and friends will be extremely minimal. Even talking to Mission Control will be difficult, given that signals to and from the craft will take almost an hour to arrive.

Read more at: Cosmos magazine

Cosmonaut Tarelkin to Become Commander of Russian-US Isolation Experiment Crew

Russian cosmonaut Yevgeny Tarelkin will head a six-people crew of a four-month Russian-US experiment to simulate long spaceflights, Department Head of the Institute of Medico-Biological Problems Mark Belakovsky told TASS on Wednesday.

SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In Unique Terrestrial Station) – is a series of joint isolation experiments by Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems and US NASA to study psychology and working capacity of human beings in long space flights, primarily to the Deep Space Gateway lunar orbiter. Participants of the experiment are to spend between 17 days and one year in total isolation.

“Yevgeny Tarelkin is an experienced cosmonaut and a wonderful engineer. He gave his consent to take part in the four-month SIRIUS experiment and to become the commander of the mission,” Belakovsky said.

Read more at: TASS

Dozens of Volunteers Apply for Joint US-Russian Simulated Moon Orbital Flight

About 50 people from various countries have shown interest in an experiment simulating the flight to an orbital station near the Moon, a representative of the Institute of Medicobiological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences told Sputnik.

The experiment is part of international SIRIUS missions, which serve to help finish preparations for deep space flights, including flights to planned lunar-orbit space station Deep Space Gateway. The experiment is being prepared by NASA Human Research Program and Russian scientists.

Russian and US researchers want the crew to include people of different genders and nationalities. To participate in an experiment, a candidate should have a good knowledge of Russian and English and to be between 25 and 55 years old. Doctors, engineers, biology researchers and IT specialists will have an edge over competitors.

Read more at: Sputnik news

This is What America’s New Space Shuttles Look Like

US astronauts haven’t had their own ride into orbit since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. Two private companies are racing to replace it and become the first to fly astronauts for NASA.

Boeing and SpaceX are being paid billions of dollars to build and operate crewed space capsules that will take humans to the International Space Station. NASA and the two companies recently shared new pictures of the astronauts and their custom spacesuits training for their flights with simulated missions in mock-up capsules.

Read more at: QZ

NASA’s Newest Backup Navigation Tool is Centuries-Old Technology

Deep space navigation is going old-school.

The International Space Station resupply mission that blasted off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in the predawn hours of May 21 carried high-tech gene-sequencing tools, an atomic physics experiment that featured lasers and supercooling, and a sextant – a navigational tool invented before the American Revolution. At first glance, one of those things is not like the others, but astronauts aboard ISS will be testing whether future crews aboard the Orion spacecraft could find their way home from a deep space mission using the much simpler technology as an emergency backup.

Read more at: Forbes

JAXA Eager to Join with NASA in Step-by-step Human Space Exploration

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is developing plans for extending human space exploration into deep space in cooperation with NASA.   JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi shared JAXA’s current thinking at a series of appearances in Washington, D.C. last week, including the Humans to Mars (H2M) conference.  JAXA is one of the partners in the NASA-led International Space Station (ISS) and sees ISS as a testbed that will lead to the Moon and, in the longer term, Mars.

Onishi, a former commercial airline pilot, joined the JAXA astronaut corps in 2009 and spent almost four months aboard ISS in 2016.  He is one of nine Japanese astronauts, another of whom, Norishige Kanai, is onboard ISS right now.

Read more at: Space policy online

Defense Department Turning Over Space Traffic Control to Commerce, But Details Unclear

A new policy said to be on President Trump’s desk for final approval would designate the Department of Commerce as the public face of space traffic management.

The job of policing space currently is performed by the Department of Defense. It involves answering queries from private citizens, corporations and foreign governments about the position of satellites on orbit, and warning agencies and commercial satellite operators of potential orbital collisions.

For the past several years the Pentagon had prepared to turn these responsibilities over to the Federal Aviation Administration but the Trump administration decided Commerce was a better fit  in light of the booming private space economy.

Read more at:

Earth’s Ozone Layer is Under Attack–Again

A blockbuster study published in the journal Nature yesterday (May 16) revealed that for the first time since the 1980s, ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have ticked sharply upward in the atmosphere—suggesting a new source. Here’s the thing though: Not only do scientists have no idea what that new source is, it doesn’t make much sense that someone would decide to pump out CFCs again. That’s because there are numerous, inexpensive alternatives to CFCs that work just as well.

As The Washington Post explained in its detailed report on the study, global CFC production has been near zero since the materials were banned in the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Overall, atmospheric CFCs are still declining, and the ozone layer is still replenishing itself. But the new source has slowed that process significantly, and scientists find the situation completely baffling, said John L. Ferry, an environmental chemist at the University of South Carolina.

Read more at: Scientific American

SpaceX Propulsion Guru Tom Mueller Looks Ahead to Raptor Rocket Engines for Mars

SpaceX’s success owes a lot to the tenacity of the company’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, but some of the credit has to go to the guy who designed the engines that make the rockets go.

That would be Tom Mueller, who was one of SpaceX’s first employees back in 2002 and now serves as its propulsion chief technology officer.

Today Mueller recounted the creation of SpaceX’s Merlin engines, and dropped some hints about the more powerful Raptor engines to come, while picking up a Space Pioneer Award here at the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference.

Read more at: Geekwire

ISS Crew Schedules Delay Need for Commercial Crew

New International Space Station crew assignments announced by NASA May 24 will give the agency a little additional schedule margin for getting commercial crew vehicles into service as it continues to study backup options.

In a statement, NASA announced it was assigning astronauts Christina Hammock Koch and Andrew Morgan to ISS missions launching in 2019. Koch will launch on a Soyuz mission to the ISS in April 2019 as a member of Expedition 59/60, and Morgan in July 2019 as part of Expedition 60/61.

With a typical crew rotation lasting six months, Koch would likely return to Earth in October 2019 and Morgan in January 2020. This is later than past statements from NASA officials, who said that Soyuz access to the ISS would end with the return of crews in the fall of 2019.

Read more at: Spacenews

DARPA Working Group Begins Addressing Concerns Related to Proximity Operations and Satellite Servicing

A major challenge facing companies planning to perform on-orbit satellite servicing will be ensuring satellite operators do not view their activities as potential threats.

“How do we avoid any potential for misperception of what one spacecraft is doing when it approaches another spacecraft,” David Barnhart, director of the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center, asked May 23 at the Space Tech Expo here.

The Defense Advanced Projects Agency’s Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing operations, called Confers, which held its first meeting May 21 in Marina del Rey, California, plans to address those concerns with transparency and confidence-building measures, Barnhart said.

Read more at: Spacenews

Congress and Trump are Running Out of Time to Fix a $100-billion Investment in the Sky, NASA Auditor says

NASA’s lead watchdog testified on Capitol Hill this week, and what he said about future plans for the International Space Station – a roughly $150 billion laboratory in the sky – should worry future astronauts.

The ISS is the size of a football field, hovers from about 250 miles up (a region called low-Earth orbit), and has hosted more than 225 people since 1998. It was envisioned as a laboratory, though also as a possible pit stop for missions to the moon or Mars.

NASA has pumped about $100 billion into the project over the decades. However, the Trump administration said it wants to end US involvement in September 2024 – about four years before the lab’s “use by” date of 2028, after which the ISS may be sent to the spacecraft graveyard.

Read more at: Business Insider

Trump’s New Space Policy Directive 2 Could Make Life Easier for SpaceX and Others

The Trump administration’s push to ease regulations on private industry is no longer confined to Earth.

Yesterday (May 24), President Donald Trump signed Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2), which instructs the secretary of transportation to devise a new regulatory regime for launch and re-entry activities, and to consider requiring just a single license for all such commercial operations.

The document also orders the commerce secretary to review regulations on the commercial remote-sensing industry, and gives the secretary 30 days to come up with a plan to create a “one-stop shop” within the Commerce Department for private-spaceflight regulation.

Read more at:

Business in Space: Will Streamlined Rules Add Thrust to Commerce and Maintain Safety?

The commercialization of outer space is starting to take off. President Trump signed a memorandum Thursday that aims to streamline federal regulations governing the growing and economically important activity private firms are conducting in Earth’s lower orbit.

The goal is to treat space like other platforms — such as the internet, highways and American air space —where strict government control has slowly given way to looser oversight that encourages private innovation while still maintaining rigorous safety standards.

Read more at: USA Today

Trump is Cutting the Red Tape in Space

A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off perfectly from pad 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base on March 30, carrying aloft satellites for Iridium Communications Inc. Video from the vehicle flipped on 2 minutes and 35 seconds later, just in time for webcast viewers to witness the first stage falling to Earth and the second stage light up. “That’s gorgeous,” said Michael Hammersely, the SpaceX narrator.

The rocket was 90 miles high and the Earth’s curvature was coming into focus when Hammersley delivered a buzzkill: “A quick reminder,” he said. Video will be cut “due to restrictions placed on us by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” The reason? Paperwork.

SpaceX ultimately received a commercial license from NOAA’s remote-sensing office, but the regulatory framework that requires such permits hasn’t been updated in decades. The red tape was emblematic of how rules governing 20th century space travel aren’t well-suited for the 21st century. That may be about to change.

Read more at: Bloomberg

Analysis | The Rise of China’s Private Space Industry

The Chinese space industry is often misunderstood in the West. And no wonder.

Between the alphabet soup of state-owned enterprises (CASC, CAST, CALT, and CASIC are four different, albeit related companies), the language barrier, and the fact that good information is hard to find, the Chinese market can be maddeningly confusing even for the most seasoned China observers.

One of the biggest gaps between perception and reality is the idea that Chinese aerospace industry is a handful of huge, state-owned companies that do everything.

Read more at: Spacenews

White House Policy Seeks Fewer Lawyers, More Engineers at Space Companies

As the White House seeks to smooth the way for commercial spaceflight, President Trump will sign a new space policy directive on Thursday afternoon. The new policy directs US departments and agencies to implement several reforms to ease the regulatory system for launch licensing, remote sensing, and more.

Read more at: Arstechnica

NASA Administrator Statement on Space Policy Directive-2

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday’s signing of Space Policy Directive-2 by President Donald Trump:

“NASA is pleased with the White House’s continued commitment to advancing America’s leadership in space. Space Policy Directive-2 (SPD-2) is another step towards bolstering our nation’s dedication to uncovering new knowledge, protecting our national security, developing breakthrough technologies, and creating new jobs.

“Our thriving space economy will continue to grow and support our missions to the Moon and Mars thanks to the Administration’s long-term investment in commercial partners who now successfully carry research and cargo to the International Space Station, and will soon transport U.S. astronauts from American soil for the first time since 2011.

Read more at: NASA

Are Viruses the New Frontier for Astrobiology?

They are the most abundant form of life on Earth, but viruses — or their seed-like dormant state, known as virions — are outliers in our search for life on other planets. Now, one group of scientists is pushing for astrobiologists to consider searching for viruses beyond Earth more seriously.

Viruses are mentioned six times in NASA’s 250-page-long current astrobiology strategy, write the authors of a recent paper called “Astrovirology: Viruses at Large in the Universe.” They call for the study of viruses to be incorporated into extraterrestrial science missions and astrobiological research at home, and have a checklist for the actions needed to put viruses on the interplanetary map.

“Viruses are an integral part of life on Earth as we know it,” said study co-author Ken Stedman, a virologist at Portland State University’s Center for Life in Extreme Environments. If we are going to be thinking about life on early Earth or ancient or current life on other planets, we need to be thinking about viruses, he said.

Read more at:

To Trim Rocket Costs, Virgin Orbit Leans on Manufacturing Software

Virgin Orbit’s campaign to design, build and fly LauncherOne, its air-launched rocket for small satellites, relies on digital manufacturing software.

“We are trying to do two things at the same time: build and launch LauncherOne, a pioneering low-cost small satellite launch vehicle and at the same time design, build and launch a company,” said Andrzej Goryca, Virgin Orbit’s senior enterprise systems manager told SpaceNews at the Space Tech Expo here.

Virgin Galactic spun off Virgin Orbit in March 2017. Goryca leads an 11-person team helping Virgin Orbit expand manufacturing, supply chain, engineering and operations while increasing efficiency to trim the cost of LauncherOne. As part of that campaign, Virgin Orbit adopted a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) from iBASEt, a company based in Foothill Ranch, California, that specializes in manufacturing software.

Read more at: Spacenews

First Motor Segment for New OmegA Rocket Produced

The first inert motor segment produced for tests of Orbital ATK’s new OmegA rocket has been completed. This new segment has been designed as part of the Common Boost Segment (CBS) program. This is the latest step in efforts designed to produce new launch vehicles.

According to a release issued by the Dulles, Virginia-based company, the production of the new CASTOR® 600 rocket motor segment was the “largest solid motor casting campaign in Orbital ATK’s history.”

“I’m proud of our team for the tremendous accomplishment in meeting this milestone for our OmegA rocket,” said Charlie Precourt, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Propulsion Systems Division said via a company-issued release. “We look forward to our ground tests next year and flight tests in 2021.”

The casting process involves the rocket motor being filled with propellants, the CASTOR® 600 underwent and completed this process last month (April 2018). The CASTOR® 600 CBS motor segments contain 55 propellant mixes each weighing 600 gallons.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

China Appoints New Space Agency Administrator

China’s State Council has appointed a new head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), with the position having been left unfilled since early in January.

The announcement that Zhang Kejian would take on the role was made on May 24. Zhang also becomes the head of the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), which oversees Chinese space-related activities, for which he was previously deputy.

Zhang was also installed as deputy of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), to which SASTIND is subordinate.

Read more at: Gbtimes

Putin Taps Rogozin to Head Roscosmos

Dmitry Rogozin, until recently the Russian government’s point-man on all matters concerning the defense and space industries, was offered to head up the Roscosmos space corporation on Thursday during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I will do everything possible and necessary to earn your trust,” Rogozin was quoted by Russia’s TASS news service as telling Putin after being offered the position.

Rogozin, once the leader of a nationalist political party, served as one of Russia’s deputy prime ministers for the past six years. Under his charge, Roscosmos was reformed from a government agency into a sprawling state corporation with the Russian space industry under its umbrella. 

But Rogozin did not retain his post in government.

Read more at: Spacenews

Bridenstine Makes Personnel Moves

Jim Bridenstine announced several personnel changes today as he settles into his new job as NASA Administrator.  Among them is permanently appointing Steve Jurczyk as Associate Administrator — the highest ranking civil servant at the agency.  Jurczyk has been in that position on an acting basis since March.

Before being named Acting Associate Administrator by then-Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, Jurczyk was the head of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which is slated for abolition as part of a NASA reorganization.  STMD’s portfolio will be moved to the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and focused on human exploration rather than the cross-cutting research it was created to perform.

Read more at: Space policy online

What is Galileo and Why are the UK and EU Arguing About it?

Galileo is an £8bn satellite navigation system intended to rival the US-controlled Global Positioning System. Once fully operational in 2020 it will provide accurate position, navigation and timing information to be used by governments, citizens and industry. It will be used by everything from smartphones to security-critical military applications in target acquisition and tracking. The UK is developing receivers for military platforms that will incorporate Galileo’s encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS).

The European commission has started to block Britain’s space industry from being involved in manufacturing of the security elements of the satellite programme. The EU says the agreement struck over the terms of the 21-month transition period after Brexit gives it the freedom to do so. The commission has suggested that after Brexit the UK should not be given privileged access to “need-to-know” information about Galileo’s PRS. It has already banned UK representatives from discussions and exchanges pertaining to the post-2019 development of the security aspects of the satellite system.

Read more at: Guardian

U.S. Military Seeks to be More Lethal, Including in Space, Mattis Says

The U.S. military is seeking to be more lethal in all domains, including space, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said yesterday.

In a briefing with reporters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mattis said U.S. Northern Command will have to change to meet the challenges of the future, to include space-related security challenges.

“As the threats to North America evolve, we’ll have to evolve the command, too,” he said. “It will continue to adapt from what it does, incorporating cyber defenses, outer space priorities and, of course, the air-breathing threats that we’ll have to stay alert to.”

Read more at: AFSPC

Lockheed to Provide Ballistic Tracking Radar to U.S., Foreign Countries

The U.S. government and multiple foreign countries are set to receive phased array radar for intercepting ballistic missiles.

The contract award, from U.S. Army Contracting Command, is valued at more than $282 million and enables Lockheed Martin to provide “phased array tracking on radar to intercept advanced capability-3 missile support center post-production support,” the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

Phased array radar systems are used to scan, identify and track both enemy planes and incoming ballistic missiles from the ground level extending to the air.

Read more at: Space daily

Missile that Downed MH17 Plane Came from Russian Military: Investigators

Investigators probing the 2014 downing of flight MH17 said Thursday for the first time that the missile which brought down the plane over eastern Ukraine originated from a Russian military brigade.

But Moscow quickly rejected the accusation, saying no such weapon had ever crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border and that it was an attempt to “discredit Russia in the eyes of the international community”.

The Joint Investigation Team “has come to the conclusion that the BUK-TELAR that shot down MH17 came from 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade based in Kursk in Russia,” top Dutch investigator Wilbert Paulissen said.

Read more at: Space daily

Astronaut Alan Bean, Apollo Moonwalker-Turned-Artist, Dies at 86

Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, who shared his experiences as the fourth human to walk on the moon through paintings sprinkled with lunar dust, has died at the age of 86.

Bean died on Saturday (May 26) at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, as confirmed by his wife, Leslie. His death followed his suddenly falling ill while on travel in Fort Wayne, Indiana two weeks ago.

“Alan was the strongest and kindest man I ever knew. He was the love of my life,” said Leslie Bean in a statement released by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation on Saturday. “A native Texan, Alan died peacefully in Houston, surrounded by those who loved him.”

Read more at:

Tom Wolfe Told the Truth About Space Exploration

“To this day, I’m not very interested in the actual exploration of space,” the late Tom Wolfe told a reporter during the book tour for The Right Stuff, his seminal tale of the first American astronauts.

Neither, as it turned out, was NASA.

In retrospect, the American government’s decision to devote a huge share of national resources to flying humans into space and then to the surface of the moon is astonishing. But despite the manifest destiny-inflected rhetoric, it was not driven by a yearning for new frontiers to explore. As Wolfe saw firsthand, it was the product of Cold War paranoia and an insatiable desire to generate proof of US superiority.

Read more at: QZ

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