Connor Johnson is on a one-kid mission to help save NASA from budget cuts and ignorance induced oblivion. The 6-year old and his family started a petition on the White House website to stop the planned budget cuts and received over 20,000 signatures. While he wasn’t successful in getting enough signatures to get the petition recognized, he was invited to the Kennedy Space Center as a guest of honor along with his family. NASA gifted him with a mission patch and a bolt from the International Space Station in appreciation of his efforts. Connor spoke with a number of former astronauts, who he hopes to emulate some day by fulfilling his dream of becoming an astronaut and setting foot on Mars. You can read more here.
The initial launch schedule for the Orion spacecraft has been pushed back to December of 2014, giving everyone more time to prepare for the event and to allow for more launch opportunities before the end of the year. Tests are being run on the service and crew modules to ensure that they will perform correctly, and can withstand the tremendous stresses and harsh environments they will encounter. Next, every component will be tested for each of the individual 59 systems before they are powered on and tested as a whole unit. Then it’s up, up and away!
NASA is encouraging citizens to help identify asteroids in their Asteroid Data Hunter contest. Through a series of challenges, $35,000 in awards are up for grabs to coders that can create algorithms that detect asteroids. Currently, only 1% of the objects orbiting the sun are being traced, so crowd-sourced asteroid detection will increase the knowledge of these objects and their quantity. NASA has offered similar top-coder challenges for a number of years in order to involve the public in finding solutions to enhance existing techniques and technology.