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Showing posts from November 24, 2015

U.S. Air Force official sees issues with space launch priorities

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could struggle to promote competition in its space launch program while also maintaining two independent ways to launch satellites and ending U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines, a top U.S. Air Force official said on Tuesday. ULA, the monopoly provider of such launches since its creation in 2006, said it was unable to submit a bid in compliance with the competition's rules because of how the contest was structured, and because it lacked Russian-built RD-180 engines for its Atlas 5 rocket. The Pentagon last month refused to grant ULA a waiver from a U.S. law that banned use of the Russian engines for military and spy satellite launches after 2019.

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U.S. Air Force official sees issues with space launch priorities

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States could struggle to promote competition in its space launch program while also maintaining two independent ways to launch satellites and ending U.S. reliance on Russian rocket engines, a top U.S. Air Force official said on Tuesday. ULA, the monopoly provider of such launches since its creation in 2006, said it was unable to submit a bid in compliance with the competition's rules because of how the contest was structured, and because it lacked Russian-built RD-180 engines for its Atlas 5 rocket. The Pentagon last month refused to grant ULA a waiver from a U.S. law that banned use of the Russian engines for military and spy satellite launches after 2019.

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Billionaire Battle: Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk Square Off on Reusable-Rocket Test

A reusable-rocket milestone has sparked a mini-squabble between two of the billionaires who are helping transform the private spaceflight industry. On Monday (Nov. 23), Blue Origin — a company established by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos —launched a rocket into suborbital space and then brought it back down for a soft landing at a pad in West Texas. The uncrewed test marked a big step toward full rocket reusability, which could open the heavens to human exploration by dramatically lowering the cost of spaceflight, Bezos said.


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Fan-Designed Lego Saturn V Moon Rocket Qualifies for Product Review

A fan-designed scale model of NASA's historic Saturn V rocket has landed on Lego's launch pad and is now waiting an official "go/no-go" call as to whether it will lift off as a commercial set. The 3-foot-tall (1 m) version of the iconic Apollo 11 booster climbed to its qualifying 10,000th vote on Friday (Nov. 20) on the Lego Ideas website. The rocket, designed by Felix Stiessen and Valerie Roche, will now be considered by the Danish toymaker for possible production when it convenes its next review in January.


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Don't Spill the Beans: Zero-G Cup Lets Astronauts 'Smell the Coffee'

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are testing beverage cups that let them literally wake up and smell the coffee. But astronauts have been testing out some strangely shaped cups that keep liquid under control well enough to contain tasty juice or scalding coffee in an open-topped container, and hold it steady even while astronauts do flips or toss the cups back and forth. "Astronauts' responses when testing out the cups so far range from 'Hey, you can smell the coffee,' to 'This is eerily like drinking on Earth,'" representatives from the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics said in a statement.


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Gecko's amazing wall-walking talent is all in the genes

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Geckos boast one of the most impressive talents of any animal: the ability to scamper up a smooth wall or across a ceiling with ease. Scientists on Tuesday said they have sequenced the genome of the gecko species Gekko japonicus, or Schlegel's Japanese gecko, and found the genetic underpinning of the lizard's gravity-defying feat. The scientists found in Gekko japonicus an expansion in the genes related to beta-keratin, accounting for the gecko's ability to generate its setae.


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Better batteries to beat global warming: A race against time

One of the key technologies that could help wean the globe off fossil fuel is probably at your fingertips or in your pocket right now: the battery. If batteries can get better, cheaper and store more power ...


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Blue Origin Makes Historic Reusable Rocket Landing in Epic Test Flight

The private spaceflight company Blue Origin just launched itself into the history books by successfully flying and landing a reusable rocket. Powered by the company's own BE-3 engine, the rocket kicked off the launchpad yesterday (Nov. 23) at 11:21 a.m. Central Time, carrying the New Shepard space vehicle. The stunning feat was captured in an amazing test flight video released by the company.


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Gecko's amazing wall-walking talent is all in the genes

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Geckos boast one of the most impressive talents of any animal: the ability to scamper up a smooth wall or across a ceiling with ease. Scientists on Tuesday said they have sequenced the genome of the gecko species Gekko japonicus, or Schlegel's Japanese gecko, and found the genetic underpinning of the lizard's gravity-defying feat. The scientists found in Gekko japonicus an expansion in the genes related to beta-keratin, accounting for the gecko's ability to generate its setae.

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Amazon founder Bezos’ rocket company passes landing test

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space transportation company, Blue Origin, successfully landed a suborbital rocket back at its launch site, a key step in its drive to make reusable rockets, the company said on Tuesday. The New Shepard rocket, which is designed to carry six passengers, blasted off from a launch site in West Texas at 12:21 p.m. CST (1821 GMT) on Monday. The rocket reached an altitude of 62 miles (100 km) – breaching the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space – and landed back at the launch site eight minutes later, the company said.


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Round for Round: Women's Drinking Rates Catching Up to Men's

Over the decade-long period between 2002 and 2012, the percentage of U.S. women who reported drinking in the past month increased, and so did the the average number of days that women reported drinking, according to the report from researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The percentage of women who reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days increased from 45 percent to 48 percent over the study period. Among men, however, the percentage decreased slightly, from 57 percent to 56 percent, according to the findings published today (Nov. 23) in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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Lonely? You May Be More Likely to Get Sick

Loneliness may be a health risk and can even increase a person's risk of premature death, studies have shown, but the reason for the link hasn't been clear. Now, researchers have found one way that loneliness may affect a person's health: It may trigger cellular changes that might lower a person's ability to fight viral infections. In a study of 141 older adults, researchers looked at the relationship between loneliness and patterns of gene expression in white blood cells, which are involved in protecting the body against viruses and bacteria.

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Goodbye, Nola: Only 3 Northern White Rhinos Remain in the World

One of the four northern white rhinoceros left on Earth died yesterday (Nov. 22), leaving only three surviving members of the critically endangered species. In recent weeks, Nola suffered from a bacterial infection, and on Nov. 13, the aging animal underwent surgery to drain a large abscess in her pelvic region, which veterinarians finally identified as the source of her sickness. When intensified treatment efforts were unsuccessful, the animal's caretakers chose to euthanize her yesterday, in what was a "difficult decision," according to a statement released by the San Diego Zoo.


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Beetles Speed-Grow Their Built-In Bifocal Eyes

Sunburst diving beetles, also known as "water tigers," are efficient predators that depend on their eyes to help them nab their mosquito prey. Each tube holds a lens, cone and retina, which are features common to the image-forming eyes in most vertebrates (and some invertebrates) known as "camera eyes." In camera eyes, images enter the eye through the lens and are reflected onto the retina. "Functionally, their eyes are more similar to our own eyes than to a fruit fly or other insect," Elke Buschbeck, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati, and co-author of the new study, told Live Science.


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Mars May Become a Ringed Planet Someday

In a few tens of millions of years, the Red Planet may completely crush its innermost moon, Phobos, and form a ring of rocky debris, according to the new work. Phobos is moving closer to Mars every year, meaning the planet's gravitational pull on the satellite is increasing. Some scientists have theorized that Phobos will eventually collide with Mars, but the new research suggests that the small moon may not last that long.


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NASA Orders 1st Crewed Mission from SpaceX

It's official: SpaceX will fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station a few years from now. California-based SpaceX has secured its first astronaut taxi order under its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with NASA, agency officials announced Friday (Nov. 20). "It's really exciting to see SpaceX and Boeing with hardware in flow for their first crew rotation missions," Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said in a statement.


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1,700-Year-Old Ring Depicts Nude Cupid, the Homewrecking God

An intricately carved gold ring containing a stone engraved with an image of Cupid — a god associated with erotic love — has been discovered near the village of Tangley in the United Kingdom. The ring dates back around 1,700 years, to a time when the Roman Empire controlled England. The ring was discovered by an amateur metal detectorist.


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Some of Earth's Rocky Plates Are Gooey on the Inside

Tectonic plates may be similar to chocolate candies: Stiff on the outside, but as soft as marshmallow fluff on the inside. That is the conclusion of a new study that suggests at least some of the rigid plates that cover the Earth's surface may be stretchier than thought. The plate tectonics findings, which were described today (Nov. 23) in the journal Nature Geoscience, are based on investigations of the region under Peru, where the Nazca Plate is diving beneath the continental South American Plate.


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More Infant Deaths Blamed on Crib Bumpers

The number of infant deaths linked to crib bumpers has increased in recent years, according to a new study. Crib bumpers are padded blankets that can be placed inside a crib, to prevent a baby's limbs from getting stuck between the slats. In the new study, researchers found that, over the seven-year period between 2006 and 2012, there were 23 deaths tied to crib bumpers reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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