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Drop-launch of rocket off Florida coast sends NASA satellites into orbit

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A Pegasus XL rocket dropped from beneath an airplane off the coast of Daytona Beach Thursday morning, then launched from there into orbit and deployed eight NASA hurricane-tracking satellites into orbit. The drop-launch from an altitude of 39,000 feet, about 110 miles east of Daytona Beach, went as planned after the mission was postponed twice this week for minor technical problems. At 7:38 a.m., an Orbital ATK L-1011 Stargazer airplane took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and exactly…

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Space center reopens after hurricane, damage in millions

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NASA’s Kennedy Space Center reopened for business Tuesday, relying on industrial air conditioners rushed in from around the country in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Director Robert Cabana said the damage – mostly ripped-off roofs – is still being tallied, but is in the millions of dollars. He said it would have been much worse had Matthew not weakened and veered slightly offshore Friday as it swept up the Florida coast. “We were definitely blessed,” Cabana, a former space shuttle…

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Bill Nelson: NASA reauthorization bill requires feet on Mars

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NASA will be required to commit to putting people on Mars in the latest U.S. Senate NASA reauthorization bill, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday. The Bill, S. 3346, was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday authorizing NASA to spend $19.6 billion budgeted for the agency and setting a few new requirements, including that NASA commit to a human settlement on Mars. That’s NASA’s plan already, though it’ll take 20 years. Nelson, the Orlando Democrat who sponsored the bill, declared…

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Marco Rubio declares support for NASA plan, calls on presidential nominees to do same

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Saying NASA needs long-range political assurances, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio declared broad backing for the space agency’s agenda Friday and called on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to do the same. Rubio met Friday with space industry representatives and others in a round-table discussion organized by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast and Space Florida, the state’s space industry development corporation. They heard from him what they wanted: that Florida’s junior senator, seeking re-election, is behind NASA’s most ambitious…

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America’s future space policy still a mystery from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

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With wars, terrorism, gun violence, economic problems, national debt, immigration issues and other national crises, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton might be excused for focusing on them, yet many Floridians and particular Central Floridians are eagerly waiting to hear what they aren’t yet talking about, space. The futures of NASA, commercial space initiatives, and defense programs are critical to the economy and future of Florida’s Space Coast and Central Florida, and by extension to the entire state, and to a rapidly…

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Sweet Meteor of Death campaign rolling on empty promises

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The Sweet Meteor of Death is not going to upstage this election season. That’s according to the NASA Near Earth Object Program that tracks roughly 15,000 asteroids, comets and gigantic pieces of space rock that pose any kind of threat to the Earth. That may be bad news for 13 percent of American registered voters, who told Public Policy Polling last month that given a choice of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or “A giant meteor hitting the Earth,” they’ll take the space rock. In what might…

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Diane Roberts: Rick Scott’s higher education summit was missing one thing — educators

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Gov. Rick Scott recently convened a higher education summit. Minus the educators. The Commissioner of Agriculture was there. The COO of defense contractor Northrup Grumman was there. The head of the state Dept. of Economic Opportunism was there. So was the state university system chancellor, the Senate president, assorted business types and three head football coaches. But no professors. No teachers. That’s like having a confab on space travel and inviting only NASA’s senior accountant, the cafeteria manager at Johnson…

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