NASA awarded astronaut wings to three 1960’s-era test pilots. The pilots were never recognized for going beyond the atmosphere and into space flying the X-15 experimental aircraft.

Retired NASA pilot Bill Dana, and family members representing agency deceased pilots John McKay and Joseph Walker, received the civilian astronaut wings. The wings acknowledged the fact the pilots flew the X-15 at altitudes of 50 miles or higher.

The men were honored in a ceremony at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., site of their achievements. Dana was philosophical about it; “NASA pilots didn’t wear wings anyway, and the concept of winning special wings was probably more crucial to a military pilot’s career ladder,” he explained.
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NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today outlined research that has helped to improve the accuracy of medium-range weather forecasts in the Northern Hemisphere.

NASA and NOAA scientists at the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA) in Camp Springs, Md., came up with procedures to improve forecasting accuracy. The scientists worked with experimental data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

They found incorporating AIRS data into numerical weather prediction models improves the accuracy range of experimental six-day Northern Hemisphere weather forecasts by up to six hours, a four percent increase. AIRS is a high-spectral resolution infrared instrument that takes 3-D pictures of atmospheric temperatures, water vapor and trace gases.
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Launch of OICETS

The Optical Inter-orbit Communications Engineering Test Satellite (OICETS) and the Innovative Technology Demonstration Experiment Satellite (INDEX), were launched at 6:10 a.m. on August 24, 2005, (Japan Standard Time, JST) by a Dnepr Launch Vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Dnepr Launch Vehicle flew normally, and JAXA confirmed that the OICETS and the INDEX were separated at 6:25:10 a.m. and 6:25:14 a.m. (JST), and were injected into their scheduled orbits based on information from the ISC Kosmotras.

JAXAfs Kiruna Overseas Mobile Tracking Station started receiving signals from the OICETS at 7:39 a.m. (JST), and through those signals, deployment of the solar array paddles was confirmed.

The nickname of the OICETS is the “Kirari”, and that of the INDEX will be announced after its status is confirmed.

We would like to express our appreciation for cooperation and support from all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to this successful launch.

The Dnepr Launch vehicle is a converted liquid-fuelled SS-18 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Management of the Dnepr program is carried out by ISC Kosmotras (Russia and Ukraine.) All four launches carried out by the Dnepr have been successful.


The two dozen delegates to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) International Meeting August 1-2 voted unanimously to study ARISS’ involvement in future space exploration. ARISS will establish a committee to develop a strategy and present proposals to the ARISS International Team within the next six months.

“We must begin to think seriously about making solid plans for ARISS, or we will not be ready when it’s time to move ahead,” ARISS International Chairman Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, told the gathering at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. NASA already has plans for missions to the moon, Mars and beyond on the drawing board. The new committee will provide updates at ARISS International monthly teleconferences.
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Arizona youngsters speak to ISS

A dozen youngsters at a charter school in Tempe, Arizona enjoyed the opportunity of a lifetime when they spoke via Amateur Radio August 17 with astronaut John Phillips, KE5DRY, aboard the International Space Station.

The direct 2-meter contact between N7HPR at D.W. Higgins Institute and NA1SS in space was arranged by the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program. Philips requested the contact because his 12-year-old nephew Ben Mackowski is a seventh grader at Higgins. In all, the youngsters, who ranged from second through eighth graders, managed to fire off nearly two dozen questions before the ISS went out of range. Among them was the nearly inevitable “food question.”
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For many years, exotic spaces from exotic places have captured the hearts of many photographers, both professional and amateur. For Expedition 10 International Space Station Commander Leroy Chiao, it was something out of this world — his extraordinary view 230 miles above the Earth — that inspired him to capture thousands of majestic images from space.

NASA is featuring some of his personal favorites on the Internet. “One of the highlights of my time on orbit was to look out the window at the Earth and snap photos,” Chiao said. He returned in April from his long-duration spaceflight.

As part of his duties, Chiao captured photos and video of Earth based on suggestions made by a team of scientists before the mission began. The scientists identified photo opportunities that aligned with the Station’s daily orbit that included meteorological and, atmospheric phenomena, geographical, manmade and natural landmarks. These Earth-observation photos are valuable to the scientific and research community.
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Scientists using NASA’s Swift satellite say they have found newborn black holes, just seconds old, in a confused state of existence. The holes are consuming material falling into them while somehow propelling other material away at great speeds.

These black holes are born in massive star explosions. An initial blast obliterates the star, yet the chaotic black hole activity appears to re-energize the explosion several times in just a few minutes. This is a dramatically different view of star death, one that entails multiple explosive outbursts and not just a single bang, as previously thought.

“Stars are exploding two, three and sometimes four times in the first minutes following the initial explosion,” said Prof. David Burrows of Penn State, University Park, Pa. “First comes a blast of gamma rays followed by intense pulses of X-rays. The energies involved are much greater than anyone expected,” he added.
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