Burt Rutan has gotten his launch license for the SpaceShipOne. That was pretty fast, considering that last summer he was refusing to apply for one. The most reliable place to track this kind of stuff is over at the X-Prize blog, where they have links to other stories.
Jim Oberg forwards an amusing variation on the Nigerian email scam:
Date: Sat Apr 3, 2004 3:20:10 PM US/Eastern
Subject: Nigerian Astronaut Wants To Come Home
Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)
Plot 555 Misau Street
PMB 437 Garki, Abuja, FCT
Dear Mr. Sir,
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE-STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL
I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo. There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.
In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we need your assistance.
Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total amount to your account for subsequent disbursement, since we as civil servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.
Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent to other accounts in due course.
Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include downpayment in this financial quarter.
Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number 234 (0) 9-234-2220 only.
Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
The web site appears to be genuine. It makes no mention of stranded astronauts.
Please read: NASA FLY-OFF UNDER STUDY
Excerpt from UPI: WASHINGTON, April 1 (UPI) — “NASA may borrow a development approach from the U.S. Air Force and seek to build multiple prototypes of its proposed new moon landing craft, and then test competing designs against one another in a celestial version of an airplane designers’ fly-off.”
This is potentially very exciting news. It will be to NASA’s advantage– budget-wise and politically — to adopt such a competitive bid/prototype process. – Jim McDade
Gerard Van der Leun has some thoughts on saving Hubble.
As Jim mentions below, it looks like the battle to save the Apollo launch tower has sadly been lost.
But I’ve been wondering about another space heritage site. Does anyone know what the situation is with the old North American plant in Downey, California? It’s been vacant since Rockwell/Boeing moved all of the space operations there to Seal and Huntington Beaches, but it’s got a lot of history (not just Apollo/Shuttle, but going back all the way to the war, when it cranked out warbirds, including the P-51 Mustang, which took off over orange groves and dairies).
In particular I’m wondering what the status or plans are for the little “walk of fame” in front of Building 6, which had several astronauts’ hand and footprints in cement, a la Sid Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Are they still there? Are there plans to move the cement to a safer location? I’d hate to think that it would just get demolished, like any other bit of sidewalk, whenever they decide to use the site for something else. I’m also concerned about the DEI room, with its full-scale half mockup (it’s only got one wing) of a Shuttle orbiter.
A quick search shows that someone else was as well, five years ago. According to this site, the city was supposed to fully acquire the property last year. Plans for commercial development are shown there.
Anyone know the current status? Last time I drove by everything still seemed intact–it was a ghost plant.
Here’s a site dedicated to preserving our aerospace heritage, describing Downey.
I should add, I don’t know if it’s still there, but one of the original McDonalds’ restaurants was in Downey as well, preserved just like the fifties (it was outdoors).
[Quick Google search]
Yup, as of last year, it was still there. The post claims it’s the world’s oldest (could be–it was the third one built over half a century ago, before Ray Kroc bought the chain). Here’s a picture of it, and some more taken in 2000.