[Ed: By Tom Neff]
This is NASA Headline News for Tuesday, April 31.....
The Congressional Budget Explorer Module (CBEM) is scheduled for installation in the orbiter Titanic's payload bay this afternoon. Technicians resolved an earlier problem with hydraulic line pressure when it was discovered that several fragments of lobbyist had become stuck in a flapper valve. The 127-ton CBEM payload will mark the beginning of NASA's ambitious decade-long "Mission to Fort Knox."
A Flight Eagerness Review is scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday. The current target launch date is Friday, May 11. If no further problems are uncovered in the FER, the launch will probably be pushed back a few days anyway just for the heck of it. The CBEM launch window ends on Tuesday, May 21, when Venus rises in Aquarius and Neptune's influence is no longer balanced, violating critical Astral launch criteria.
Meanwhile, the Velikovsky spacecraft is in good health on its journey to Venus. It's now 122 million miles from Venus and about 28 feet from Earth. Engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory report that failure to actually launch Velikovsky has had little impact on its ability to perform the primary pseudoscience missions. Earlier problems with voltage fluctuations in the Wide Eyed/Credulous Subject Scanner are being monitored carefully. "I'm pretending this is really exciting," says JPL team leader Geraldo R. Spencer.
In other planetary mission news, technicians at the Deep Space Network installation in Canberra, Australia have identified the probable cause of signal weakness in the primary 90-meter antenna: the dish was apparently mounted upside-down. A tentative schedule and budget estimate for correcting the mount is underway. DSN Australian Coordinator Michael J. Dundee was quoted in the Australian weekly "P*** Off Mate" as saying that this mystifying problem had never been encountered before, but was probably due to reliance on American antenna design parameters. "I'm still not convinced that anything's wrong, but we'll try it the other way and see."
Leak checks are underway on the Contractor Information Network (CIN) at Huntsville, Alabama. Technicians at the Huntsville Program Survival Facility (PSF) expect to begin CIN closeouts by Thursday. The system will then be purged for use.
Aerobuck Weekly reports that in testimony last Thursday before the House Space and Storm Door Subcommittee, NASA Administrator Roald Sagdeev testified that a recent re-re-reshuffling and "options devaluation" would enable Space Station to proceed despite the latest round of budget cuts, but warned this was "absolutely the last cut that can be sustained." Citing internal NASA studies, the publication listed several cost cutting measures under consideration, including a two year stretchout of the Ground Telerobotic Administrator (GTA) subsystem, and eliminating atmospheric pressure in the one remaining crew module, which would also be downsized from 23 feet to 16 feet. The name of the station would be officially changed from "Freedom" to "Fred" to fit the new bulkhead dimensions.
The Soviets and Japanese jointly announced a contract with Hilton Hotels last week, to provide a 335-room passenger module for the international Sakharov Space Station currently under construction in Earth orbit.
Malawi became the 78th nation in space Sunday, launching an 1820-pound satellite into orbit atop an Indonesian Merlata II booster. This launcher now has a record of 69 successes in 71 launches.
The last remaining Scout rocket was lost in a launch pad accident near Wallops Island Proving Ground last week, according to a NASA spokesman. Technicians apparently made an error in connecting a hydraulic feed line to the rocket as it awaited payload checkout, connecting it to the purge valve for a nearby Toxic Waste Holding Facility instead. The first stage appears to have partially dissolved and melted itself to the concrete apron; EPA officials have ordered the site sealed pending checkout by an Emergency Response team.
Tuesday, April 31...
11:30 A.M. "Budget Cut Spinoffs" - classroom teaching aid
Monday, May 0...
9:00 A.M. Colloquium on Soviet Inferiority
10:00 A.M. Three Letter Acronym (TLA) List Update (LU)
11:00 A.M. Pre-launch News Conference
12:00 A.M. Post-scrub News Conference
Friday, April 35...
4:00 A.M. Replay of the Administrator's Good Friday speech: "The Crucifixion: A Lesson for NASA?"
5:30 A.M. Livestock Report
6:00 A.M. Astronaut Aerobics/Morning Workout
All events and times and missions and appropriations are subject to change without notice.