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The last known surviving member of the German engineering team that came to the United States and designed the rocket that took astronauts to the moon has died.

   Oscar Carl Holderer died Tuesday at age 95 in Huntsville. His son Michael Holderer says his father suffered a stroke last week and didn't recover.

   The German-born Holderer came to the United States in 1945 with a group of rocket engineers led by Wernher von Braun.

    

A federal judge will review an agreement to settle a desegregation case involving Huntsville city schools.

The school system and the Justice Department released the agreement on Monday. It's aimed at resolving disputes over the racial fairness of a student attendance plan devised last year.

The federal government objected to the plan arguing it didn't improve academic opportunities for black students.   The school system agrees to take several steps in the settlement, which follows mediation sessions.

www.uab.edu

    

The controversy over the end of the football team at the University of Alabama in Birmingham may enter its latest chapter today. APR student reporter Kristen Feyt has more…

nasa.gov

The nation's first Hispanic female astronaut is visiting NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to observe Hispanic Heritage Month.

Ellen Ochoa will speak at the facility in Huntsville on Tuesday morning. The theme is "Hispanics: A legacy of history, a present of action and a future of success."

Ochoa became an astronaut in July 1991 and first flew aboard the space shuttle in 1993. The California native logged nearly 1,000 hours in space on that and three subsequent flights.

Ochoa is currently director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

nasa.gov

Three space station astronauts are back on Earth.

An American and two Russians landed early Thursday in Kazakhstan after 5½ months aboard the International Space Station. They returned in a Russian Soyuz capsule that parachuted down through a clear sky. NASA said everything appeared to go well.

NASA astronaut Steven Swanson and Russian crewmen Oleg Artemiev and Alexander Skvortsov flew to the orbiting outpost last March. Their departure leaves three men still up there: an American, Russian and German.

Alabama’s reputation as one of the leaders in the space industry is continuing to grow.  A private company building vehicles for space travel is expanding its work in Huntsville.  Sierra Nevada Company announced it’s teaming up with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and an engineering company.  Mark Sirangelo is Sierra Nevada’s corporate vice president.  He says they’re expanding in Huntsville to tap into the wealth of knowledge there. 

astrobites.org

A University of Alabama researcher and his team believe they’ve been able to observe a black hole destroying a star in a galaxy far, far away.   Peter Maksym led the study of data from NASA’s Chandra telescope that observed a large x-ray flare. 

Peter Maksym: “You have this tiny little galaxy that appears to have had a really huge x-ray flare.  This is really solid evidence that it’s got a massive black hole of some sort.”

Maksym says the flare was probably created when a star got too close to the black hole and was destroyed. 

NASA

NASA officials say brilliant lights and loud booms reported in Alabama and Georgia were a meteor that streaked across the South.

Officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville said a baseball-size fragment of a comet entered Earth's atmosphere above Alabama at 8:18 p.m. Central Time on Monday.

NASA officials say the meteor traveled at a speed of 76,000 mph. They say that just three seconds after hitting the atmosphere, it disintegrated 25 miles above the Alabama town of Woodstock, producing a flash of light. Woodstock is about 30 miles southwest of Woodstock.

Emmett Given/Marshall Space Flight Center

The head of NASA's next-generation rocket will be in Mobile to discuss the program with coastal residents.

   Todd May, who directs NASA's space launch system at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, will speak about the program at Battleship Memorial Park on Wednesday afternoon.

   The event is open to the public, and NASA astronaut and former space shuttle pilot Tony Antonelli will also be on hand.

   The space launch system will be the most powerful rocket ever built, and the first test flight is set for 2017.

NASA

The nation's space agency is tearing down a rocket test stand in Huntsville that was once used by engineers working to send astronauts to the moon.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says workers will use explosives to demolish the concrete towers of Test Stand 4696 at Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville on Friday.

The 239-foot-tall tower was built in 1962 to test F-1 engines, which helped power Saturn V rockets to the moon. Documents show it hasn't been used since 1969, the year astronauts first landed on the lunar surface.

NASA

CINCINNATI (AP) — The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he has died at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA has received a flood of new black-and-white pictures from the Curiosity rover on Mars that it will stitch together to make a panorama. The photos began pouring in Wednesday morning after the nuclear-powered rover raised its mast that's equipped with the cameras. The raw images reveal portions of the rover's instrument deck, its shadow on the ground and the Martian horizon. Since touching down inside Gale Crater Sunday night, Curiosity has beamed home a steady stream of images, including the first color view from the landing site.

NASA

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A north Alabama company has won a contract worth as much $51.6 million for work at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The space agency says Analytical Services Inc. will provide strategic research and analysis at Marshall. It will also provide support services for communications at the NASA center. The one-year contract can be lengthened through extensions. ASI is based in Huntsville and has offices in Montgomery, Troy, Mich., and the Washington, D.C., region.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA's Curiosity rover has beamed back its first color photo from the ancient crater where it landed. The view showed a pebbly landscape and the rim of Gale Crater off in the distance. Curiosity snapped the photo on the first day on the surface after touching down on Mars Sunday night. The rover took the shot with a camera at the end of its robotic arm, which remained stowed. The landscape looked fuzzy because the camera's removable cover was coated with dust that kicked up during the descent to the ground.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena on late Sunday after the robotic explorer Curiosity signaled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere. The most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built touched down on the Martian surface inside of a giant crater after a tricky landing routine that included a series of braking tricks, a heat shield and a supersonic parachute.

NASA

MOSCOW (AP) — An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft (similar to the one pictured here) has redocked with the International Space Station after an aborted attempt five days earlier. The Progress cargo ship had separated from the station a week ago to perform engineering tests and try out a new docking system and had been due to reconnect with the station on Tuesday. But problems developed with the avionics in the docking system. The second attempt early Sunday was successful. Video streamed from Russian mission control reported no problems.

We now know that Pluto, the dwarf planet formerly known as a planet, has one more moon orbiting it. Using the Hubble Space telescope, astronomers have discovered Pluto's fifth moon.

NPR's Joe Palca filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The new moon is tiny, something between 6 and 15 miles across. It showed up in nine separate images the space telescope made in the last month. The latest image came earlier this week.

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