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NASA

NASA selects small business projects

Washington -- U.S. space agency officials say they've picked 152 proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in NASA's Small Business Innovation Research program.

The selected projects have a total value of approximately $91 million. NASA said it will award the contracts to 126 small high technology firms in 27 states to address research and technology needs for agency programs and projects.

Previous program results have benefited NASA efforts, including modern air traffic control systems, Earth observing spacecraft, the space shuttle, the International Space Station and Mars rovers.

Phase 1 is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea. Awards are for as long as six months in amounts up to $100,000.

NASA announces new video space game

Moffett Field, Calif. -- The U.S. space agency says it has developed a video game designed to give young people the virtual experience of working on the International Space Station.

NASA said the game is based on work astronauts performed during the course of several ISS missions. The space agency said the game is part of its educational outreach effort to engage and inspire students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's all about getting the next generation excited about space exploration,"

Shuttle Atlantis to move to its launch pad

Cape Canaveral, Fla. -- NASA says it will move space shuttle Atlantis to its launch pad next week to prepare for a Nov. 12 liftoff on a mission to the International Space Station.

The 11-day STS-129 cargo mission will be preceded by dress rehearsal activities, including a practice countdown by the shuttle's crew and NASA technicians Oct. 19-21 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Officials said Atlantis was moved from its hangar Tuesday to Kennedy's
Vehicle Assembly Building where it will be attached to its external fuel tank and two solid rocket boosters before its move next Tuesday to Launch Pad 39A.

Astronaut on Twitter gets 1M followers

Houston -- NASA says U.S. astronaut Mike Massimino -- the first astronaut to tweet from space -- now shares his daily experiences with more than a million tweeters.

Massimino, known as "Astro_Mike" on Twitter, flew in May aboard the final space shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. He began a Twitter account about a month before his launch, provided updates throughout his time in orbit and continues to tweet about his post-flight experiences and the life and work of an astronaut, NASA said.

NASA extends technical services contract

Huntsville -- U.S. space agency officials say they've extended an engineering, science and technical services contract at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The $192.5 million contract extension, to conclude Oct. 14, 2010, was awarded to Jacobs Technology Inc. of Tullahoma, Tenn. The extension brings the total value of the contract that was awarded in October 2005 to $792.5 million, NASA said.

NASA sponsors water recycling competition

Washington -- NASA says it's inviting fifth- through eighth-grade U.S. students to take part in a water limitation management and recycling design competition.

"Participants in the competition will design and test water recycling systems that could be used for future exploration of the moon," the space agency said in a statement. "The top three teams will receive awards, and the first place team will receive an expense-paid trip to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida."

Teams should consist of up to six students and one teacher or mentor, with proposals and results submitted for evaluation by Feb. 1. Schools in the United States and its territories, science museums, science centers and home school groups may host teams.

NASA to resume 'Operation Ice Bridge'

Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. -- The U.S. space agency says it is ready to start a study of the Earth's southern ice-covered regions to identify changes in sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers.

On Oct. 12, NASA's "Operation Ice Bridge" resumes when the space agency's DC-8 -- the largest aircraft in its science fleet -- leaves the Dryden Flight Research Center in California for Punta Arenas, Chile, where it will be based through
mid-November.

"For six weeks, the Ice Bridge team will traverse the Southern Ocean for up to 17 flights over West Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, and coastal areas where sea ice is prevalent," NASA said.

NASA awards risk reduction contract

Washington -- NASA says it has awarded a contract to International Trade Bridge Inc. of Dayton, Ohio, to help reduce the environmental impact of space agency activities.

Officials said the company will provide engineering, technical and administrative support for activities under the NASA Technology Evaluation for Environmental Risk Mitigation program, the agency's energy program, and international collaborative efforts.

The five-year, $30 million contract will support NASA energy and water conservation, monitoring studies, interagency working groups on hydrogen and fuel cells, programmatic environmental assurance, green engineering advancement and related administrative tasks, officials said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International.

Space lasers track ice sheet thinning

Cambridge, England. -- British scientists say they've used NASA's satellite-based lasers to conduct the most comprehensive study to date of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.

The British Antarctic Survey and University of Bristol researchers say their findings show the most profound ice loss in both ice sheets is a result of glaciers speeding up where they flow into the sea.

The researchers say such "dynamic thinning" of glaciers now reaches all latitudes in Greenland, has intensified on key Antarctic coastlines, is penetrating far into the ice sheets' interior and is spreading as ice shelves thin by ocean-driven melt. Ice shelf collapse has triggered particularly strong thinning that has endured for decades.

NASA uses a laser to track a spacecraft

Greenbelt -- NASA scientists say they are conducting the first laser-ranging effort to track a spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit on a daily basis.

"On certain nights, an arresting green line pierces the sky above NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.," the space agency said. "It's a laser directed at the moon, visible when the air is humid. No, we're not repelling an invasion. Instead, we're tracking our own spacecraft."

Goddard scientists said the laser's green beam is directed toward the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft that's in orbit around the moon.