NASA

NASA picked Alabama's "Rocket City" on Friday to lead development of the next moon lander for astronauts. 

Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville beat out Johnson Space Center in Houston, which managed the Apollo lunar lander a half-century ago.

The new lunar lander — not yet built or even designed — is meant to carry an American woman and a man to the moon's south pole by 2024. Under the plan, the astronauts will depart for the surface from a small space station around the moon and return there.

blog.al.com

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins returned Tuesday to the exact spot where he flew to the moon 50 years ago with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Collins had the spotlight to himself this time — Armstrong has been gone for seven years and Aldrin canceled. Collins said he wished his two moonwalking colleagues could have shared the moment at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, the departure point for humanity's first moon landing.

Rocket City is launching its 50th anniversary of the moon landing this weekend.

The University of Alabama at Huntsville is celebrating the landing of the Apollo 11 on the moon. There will be an echibit held in the UAH library called "To land on the Moon: Huntsville and the Space Program." This exhibit will be open for two weeks and will display original and duplicates of documents and pictures.

Reagan Grimsley is head of special collections and archives at UAH and shared what visitors can expect to see at the exhibit.

Saturn V
Andreas Hörstemeier / Wikimedia

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Residents from across the nation are donating money to help refurbish a giant rocket in Huntsville.

The rocket is the only standing replica of the Saturn V rocket that took men to the moon Al.com reported.

It is being overhauled at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in the northern Alabama city. The museum is cleaning up the towering rocket for the July celebration of the first moon landing 50 years ago.

The project is expected to cost about $1.3 million. To help pay for it, the museum began a $250,000 fundraising campaign last month.

Marshall Space Flight Center
NASA

The director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama is retiring.

Marshall officials say Todd May announced his retirement to employees yesterday. It is set to take effect July 27.

A statement from U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Huntsville says May is being replaced on an acting basis by Marshall's deputy director, Joan A. "Jody" Singer.

May was first named acting director of Marshall in 2015 and then took over the position on a permanent basis. Before that, the Fairhope native managed the Space Launch System, NASA's heavy-lift rocket that's still in development.

NASA is gathering stakeholders in the International Space Station to look at the future of the orbiting complex, and potential changes could impact the city of Huntsville.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville controls science work that’s done aboard the football field-sized space station. That could soon mean working for or with private industry on the complex.

The commander of Redstone Arsenal says 911 calls about a potential active shooter prompted lockdown; no shooter was found.  

Authorities locked down post today amid reports of possible active shooter. About two hours later, the all-clear was given and officials said there were no confirmed injuries or arrests.

North Alabama has a huge new structure on its landscape.

NASA says construction work is finished in Huntsville on a 221-foot-tall, twin-tower stand that will be used to test hardware for the space agency's new rocket.

 The massive structure is located at Marshall Space Flight Center, where engineers are installing equipment needed to test the largest fuel tank that will be part of the Space Launch System rocket.

Former astronaut pleads not guilty in deadly wreck

Nov 30, 2016

A former space shuttle commander has pleaded not guilty in a fatal wreck that killed two girls in Alabama.

Court records show 60-year-old James Halsell Jr. entered the written plea last week. The former astronaut is charged with reckless murder in a crash that killed two girls riding in a car near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in June.

Authorities say they suspect alcohol was a factor. But Halsell's lawyers filed a document in a civil lawsuit blaming the other driver for failing to yield.

Judge: Ex-astronaut charged in 2 traffic deaths can drive

Nov 22, 2016

An Alabama judge says a former astronaut charged in the traffic deaths of two girls can continue driving, but with restrictions.

A judge in Tuscaloosa ruled late Friday that former space shuttle commander  James Halsell Jr. can't consume any alcohol or illegal drugs.  He also cannot take medication unless he has a prescription.

Circuit Judge Bradley Almond also ruled the 60-year-old Halsell must have a special locking device installed on his car's ignition. And the Huntsville man must undergo twice-weekly testing.

Robert Lightfoot
NASA

Space enthusiasts will have a chance to speak with some of the top figures in deep space exploration this week.

The American Astronautical Society (AAS) is hosting the ninth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium in Huntsville today through Friday on the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s campus.

Jim Kirkpatrick is the Executive Director of the AAS. He stresses the importance of the environment the symposium provides.

Judge lifts driver license suspension of former astronaut

Sep 22, 2016

A judge in Tuscaloosa has delayed the driver license suspension of a former astronaut charged in the traffic deaths of two girls.

Records show the court delayed the state's move to take James Halsell's driver's license. An order issued earlier this month says the one-time space shuttle commander can keep his license until his case is resolved.

NASA is building a new satellite to study air pollution and scientists are gathering in Huntsville to learn how to use it.

A workshop for new air quality monitoring technology is being held at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The air sniffing satellite is called TEMPO and its set for launch around 2020. A conference is a way for scientists on the TEMPO project to answer questions that general users may have about the data and workings of the satellite.

TEMPO data
NASA

NASA is inviting scientists to use data from a satellite set for launch around 2020.

The program is called Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution, or TEMPO. It’s designed to look for pollution in the upper atmosphere. NASA is teaming with the University of Alabama in Huntsville for a workshop on how scientists can get data from the TEMPO satellite for their research.

Professor Michael Newchurch came up with the idea of having the application workshop at the university. He says he only expected twenty to thirty people to attend.

The Tuscaloosa City Council has approved a deal that will allow the ride-sharing service Uber to begin operations in the city within a month.

The Tuscaloosa News reports the council voted 6-1 yesterday to change its vehicle-for-hire ordinance to allow Uber and similar companies to begin operations in the city.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox says he plans to sign the amended ordinance into law.

The families of two girls who were killed in a DUI crash involving a former NASA astronaut in rural west Alabama have filed wrongful-death lawsuits in state and federal courts.

Authorities say 11-year-old Niomi James and 13-year-old Jayla Parler were killed in a crash that left two others injured on June 6 in rural west Alabama.

Former NASA astronaut 59-year-old James Halsell has been charged with reckless murder in the crash and now faces wrongful-death lawsuits in Tuscaloosa County and in federal court.

An Alabama judge will hear arguments today in a dispute between the state’s teachers and their health insurance provider.

The Alabama Education Association is suing the Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Program, or PEEHIP. Coinciding with a raise that Alabama’s lawmakers allocated to teachers earlier this year, the health insurance program announced it was dramatically increasing its premiums. The AEA argues those rate hikes were decided upon in a secret meeting that violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.

A state judge is refusing to dismiss ethics charges against Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

Lee County Judge Jacob Walker says he will let the charges go to the jury, rejecting a defense request for a summary judgment of acquittal after prosecutors rested their case.

Defense lawyer Bill Baxley says he plans to call on former Gov. Bob Riley, who testified earlier as a prosecution witness.

Jury selection is ongoing in the trial of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

About 100 of the 140 Lee County residents were on hand as the selection process began in Opelika. 

Republican Speaker Mike Hubbard faces 23 felony ethics charges of using his political position for personal gain back in October 2014. Hubbard has maintained his innocence throughout the indictments. 

Hubbard faces removal from office if he’s convicted.

MARTE
Alabama Astrobiotics

Alabama’s state preschool program has been named the best in the country for ten years running.

The National Institute for Early Education Research ranks pre-kindergarten programs across the country each year based on quality. For the tenth year in a row, the institute named Alabama’s state-funded First Class Pre-K program the nation’s best. Alabama met or exceeded all of the institute’s quality benchmarks examining things like student-to-teacher ratios and educator qualifications.

Lawyers for an Alabama death row inmate are asking a federal court to stop his execution next week, saying he is incompetent because of mental illness, strokes and dementia.

Attorneys for 65-year-old Vernon Madison filed the emergency stay request Wednesday in federal court in Mobile.

Madison is scheduled to get a lethal injection May 12. He was convicted in the 1985 slaying of Mobile police Officer Julius Schulte.

The Alabama legislative session is over. Lawmakers have returned home, but some say very little was accomplished. APR’s MacKenzie Bates talks to one legislator who says there is still a lot work to do.

Lawmakers ended the session without agreeing a on a variety of issues like Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's prison construction proposal, how the state should spend the BP settlement from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the lack of money to fund the state’s Medicaid program.

The Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to approve an education budget that gives teachers their first pay raise in several years.

The spending plan would give a 4 percent raise to teachers making less than $75,000 annually, and a 2 percent raise to all other teachers in the state.

All 105 state representatives approved the budget, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

In 2013, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but that was offset by increases in benefit costs. The last raise before that came in 2007.

Montgomery city officials are planning their own investigation of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. A-P-R’s Stan Ingold reports the decision was made after complaints from the officer's colleagues…

Mayor Todd Strange told The Montgomery Advertiser that officers are unhappy, concerned and upset over the arrest of Officer Aaron Smith.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

The next session for Alabama’s state legislature will convene at noon today.

State lawmakers are starting the 2016 session on Groundhog Day to some very familiar budget issues, but there will likely be some new debates as well.

More than 100 religious group leaders are pleading to Alabama’s governor to soften his stance on the state accepting Syrian refugees. 

Pastors sent a letter to Governor Robert Bentley’s office in Montgomery, saying faith includes a requirement to welcome strangers and love neighbors.

The letter was signed by dozens of moderate clergy members and other religious leaders from around the state. It was initiated by Greater Birmingham Ministries, an ecumenical organization in the state's largest city.

Alabama’s embattled Department of Corrections is now being criticized for housing youth inmates in adult facilities.

41 youth offenders are currently locked up alongside adult inmates at corrections facilities in Alabama. That’s according to a report released earlier this month by the Campaign for Youth Justice, a national advocacy organization.

Carmen Daugherty is the policy director for the Campaign for Youth Justice. She says housing youth inmates alongside adults contributes to those youths landing back in prison in the future.

www.nasa.gov

 NASA has named an interim director to lead the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

NASA officials say that Todd May has been named to the post after the retirement of former director Patrick Scheuermann.

May has served as the space center's deputy director since August and had managed the Space Launch System Program since 2011. Officials say May started his career with NASA in 1991 at the Materials and Processes lab at Marshall.

phys.org

NASA’s new rocket program designed to eventually carry astronauts to Mars has a new   

  man at the helm. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more.

            John Honeycutt has been named the new manager of NASA’s Space Launch System program.

            The program is currently in development at Huntsville’s Marshall Space Flight Center and aims to construct the largest rockets ever built.

House Committee approves tax hikes, NASA Smartwatch App

Sep 9, 2015

An Alabama budget committee has approved a cigarette tax increase and other revenue bills as lawmakers try to fill a budget shortfall.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted 8-6 for a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase. The increase would raise $66 million annually.

The committee also voted for bills to raise the car rental tax from 1.5 to 2 percent, increase the car title fee from $15 to $28, and adjusts the business privilege tax so smaller businesses pay less and larger ones pay more.

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