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Volume 15 –November 17, 2009


To the Moon and Beyond

On October 28th, 2009 NASA's Ares I-X test rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a 2- minute powered flight which lasted 6 minutes from its launch until splashdown. This flight test will bring NASA one step closer to its exploration goals -to return to the moon and to travel to Mars and destinations beyond.

The Ares I-X test is part of a larger flight test program that will include three tests of the Orion launch abort system, a follow-on Ares I-X test, and an integrated test of both the launch vehicle and spacecraft, called Orion 1, in 2015.

Data collected from the tests will be used to verify the effectiveness of the rocket's design and ensure that it is safe and stable in flight before astronauts begin traveling into orbit.

 For more facts as well educational material on Ares I-X please visit:

Raising the Stakes for Google Lunar X PRIZE

A team of scientists from NASA announced today that significant amounts of water ice have been found at the Moon's South Pole. This landmark finding, is a game-changing discovery for space exploration. With ready supplies of ice, future robotic spacecraft or human astronaut crews could generate not only drinking water but also gaseous hydrogen and oxygen -excellent propellants that could be used for further space exploration beyond the Moon.

The discovery also provides new support for a private race to return to the Moon. The Google Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million incentive prize created and operated by the X PRIZE Foundation, challenges privately funded teams from around the globe to send robots to explore the lunar surface and return high resolution video and imagery back to the Earth. The Prize program includes a Water Detection Bonus, which pays additional prize money to teams that use robots on the lunar surface to provide confirmation of the presence of water ice. Until now, it was uncertain if this bonus would be obtainable.

To learn more, please visit:



Elevator to Heavens

The idea of a space elevator goes back to 1895 when Konstantin Tsiolkovsky proposed a free-standing "Tsiolkovsky" Tower reaching from the surface of Earth to the orbit. However through NASA's Prize Program for the "Citizen Invention", the idea has evolved and now is succeeding in a form different than a tower.

One of the challenges in NASA's Centennial Challenges, called Power Beaming, is a demonstration of wireless power transmission which teams build and demonstrate systems to beam energy from the ground to a robotic device that climbs a vertical cable.

On November 7, the Seattle-based LaserMotive team was declared the winner of the Space Elevator Power-Beaming Challenge Games at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. LaserMotive won $900,000 for meeting the Level 1 standard of having their laser-powered robot climb a 900-meter-long cable suspended from a hovering helicopter in less than 7.5 minutes. The team accomplished that goal four times in the first two days of competition, the quickest being in 3 minutes and 48 seconds.

As it stands, the remaining $1.1 million Level 2 prize is still available, and in the future any of the teams can claim that prize by meeting the 5-meters-per-second standard.

To learn more please visit:


My Dream of Stars

My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer is the name of the book coming out March 2010. The book is written by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam. Homer H Hickam, Jr., author, Vietnam veteran, and a former NASA engineer is the author of a number of best-selling memoirs and novels including his autobiographical and widely-read novel Rocket Boys, later made into the movie: October Sky.

In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream. She tells the readers of the prejudices and obstacles she had to overcome as well as her determination and hope, and the love and support that made it possible. It is Anousheh' s hope that her personal story would encourage and inspire people around the globe, especially the younger generation, to strive to overcome any barriers holding them back from their dreams.

To learn more about the book:

Spirit of Innovation Update

As featured in previous newsletters, the Spirit of Innovation Awards Program challenges teams of high school students to solve real world problems by creating products using science, technology, and entrepreneurship. This is a reminder of their soon approaching deadline of December 15th for all submissions.  To learn more about the dates, and how to register please visit:



What If Competition!

The What If Competition 2009-2010 has officially started. 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who register would compete by writing an essay about how to help the crew of Space Peace Mission 1 (SPM-1) who are stranded in space. Registration deadline for teams and individuals is February 5, 2010 and all entries are due by February 19, 2010.  To Learn more about the prizes, rules, and other details please visit: http://www.whatifprize.org/



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:

"Fortune favors the brave."

Virgil (Aeneid)  70 B.C.-19 B.C.