Discovery in Orbit, Chasing Space Station


Sat, 29 Aug 2009 05:18:13 AM GMT

With seven astronauts and a host of experiments and equipment on board, space shuttle Discovery completed a flawless ascent into orbit Friday night to begin a two-day chase of the International Space Station. With Commander Rick “C.J. ” Sturckow at the controls, the shuttle lifted off on-time at 11:59 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will rendezvous and dock with the station Sunday and the crew will begin transferring equipment to the outpost during the 13-day mission.

After flying up on Discovery, Nicole Stott will trade places with station resident Tim Kopra, who went into space last month aboard Endeavour. Equipment and science racks for the orbiting laboratory are riding inside the Leonardo cargo module, which is secured tightly inside Discovery’s payload bay. The module will be lifted out of Discovery and locked onto the station so the crew can transfer the gear efficiently. The treadmill named for comedian Stephen Colbert also is aboard Discovery and destined for the station.

Countdown Resumes


Fri, 28 Aug 2009 02:03:07 PM GMT

The countdown for the launch of space shuttle Discovery’s STS-128 mission is under way again. The count resumed at 8:34 a.m. EDT at the T-11 hour point with no issues being reported that could affect launch.

The Rotating Service Structure on Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A was rolled away from Discovery this morning at 6:11 a.m.

NASA’s Mission Management Team plans to meet at noon to review launch preparations and determine whether teams will continue to march toward a targeted liftoff tonight at 11:59 p.m.

Weather is forecasted to be 60 percent “go” for external tank loading and 60 percent “go” for launch.

The RNLI and the National Trust present the 2009 World Belly Board Championships

Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Amy Caldwell, Lifeguard Press Officer

World Belly Board Championships at Chapel Porth  (Credit RNLI/National Trust)This September, hundreds of surfers on traditional wooden belly boards will be taking to the waves in Cornwall for the National Trust’s and RNLI’s World Belly Board Championship (WBBC), sponsored by Skinners Brewery.

The 2009 World Belly Board Championship is a charity event, taking place on 6 September on Chapel Porth beach near St Agnes. The event celebrates the origins of surfing in Britain and is the brainchild of two keen local surfers – Chris Ryan, (Chapel Porth National Trust Car Park Attendant) and Martyn Ward (RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor). The two friends developed the idea in 2002 as a memorial to the late Arthur Traveller, a Londoner who holidayed with his wooden board at Chapel Porth every year. From its humble beginnings with only a handful of competitors, it now boasts over one hundred entrants.

Robyn Davies, five times British Surf Champion and Surf Project Officer for the National Trust says:

‘The World Belly Board Championship celebrates all that is good about surfing! This event brings a communal stoke factor back to an ever growing sport. The National Trust and the RNLI feel it really important to highlight the pressures put on the coast and the beaches and what better way of doing this than by having a really great day out’.

Although there is a slightly serious element to the day, as the participants compete for the coveted World Title, there is also a fun Expression Session. Here prizes are awarded for the Most Stylish, Best Trick and Spirit of Belly Boarding categories. There is also the opportunity to win prizes out of the water, with belly boards judged on the Best Artwork, Best Patina and Best Vintage to name a few. Wetsuits are not permitted and many participants come in traditional bathing attire with prizes for the Best Costume and Best Bathing Cap.

Martyn Ward, RNLI lifeguard supervisor and one of the co-founders of the event says;

‘Its amazing to see the event that Chris and I started six years ago grow into the World Championships we have today, helping to raise vital funds for the National Trust and the RNLI. Both charities contribute to the conservation of the coastline and the safety of bathers at Chapel Porth.

Although it has grown in size and popularity the event still remains a simple, fun, family day out, with entrants from seven to seventy years old getting together to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. We must thank Skinners Brewery who have supported the event from the beginning, and are this years main sponsors, as well as the generosity of many others over the years who have helped make the World Belly Board Championships an annual event.’

Surfing really became popular in the UK in Cornwall in the 1920s in the form of lying down on wooden boards known as ‘belly boards’. However it is thought it have started in the 1900’s when a form of the Hawaiian finless, wooden ‘Paipo’ board was copied by British Soldiers returning from the Great War inspired by stories of surfing from South Africa, Australia and Hawaii. Stand up surfing came later, with the first pictorial evidence dating back to Cornwall in 1929 [1].

The National Trust is a conservation charity which looks after 36 per cent of the Cornish coast, including Chapel Porth. The RNLI is a charity which provides an integrated rescue service from the beach to the open sea through its lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews. Throughout the summer, RNLI lifeguards provide safety patrols on 57 beaches across Cornwall, including Chapel Porth offering beach safety advice and responding to anyone in difficulty in the water.

There are two age categories for the belly boarding event, Junior (under 60) and Senior (over 60). Entry to the competition is by donation. For more details on this and how to enter go to:

Sunderland teenagers learn lifesaving skills from the RNLI

Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Deborah Heaton-Caffin, Lifeguard Press Officer

RNLI lifeguard supervisors Ben Mitchell and Ross Lambert prepare to demonstrate a spinal board lift assisted by Jake Holyoak and Jack Rouce from the SAFC Foundation’s Kickz programme.  (Credit RNLI/)Teenagers from SAFC Foundation’s Kickz project teamed up with lifeguards from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to test their lifesaving skills this week.

Fifteen youngsters who have been attending the Kickz scheme throughout the summer holidays were put through their paces at Seaburn beach on Wednesday, 26th August.

During two sessions, the 15 and 16-year-olds discovered more about the work of RNLI lifeguards, familiarised themselves with the lifesaving equipment used by the charity and attempted a lifeguard fitness test.

Ben Mitchell, RNLI lifeguard supervisor for Tyne and Wear, said the teenagers had been enthusiastic and keen to learn.

‘This was a fantastic opportunity for the lifeguards to educate young people about beach and sea safety and also to reach out to teenagers who could well be lifeguards in the future,’ he said.

Sunderland Football Club was one of the first clubs outside London to be chosen to run the Premier League-backed Kickz scheme, which focuses on tackling youth disorder.

For almost three years, football coaching and other leisure activities have been offered to hundreds of youngsters in the Seaburn, Castletown and Chester-le-Street areas in a bid to develop their potential.

The Kickz scheme is just one of many resources used by the SAFC Foundation – Sunderland Football Club’s official charity that works with over 30,000 children in the North-East every year.

Kickz co-ordinator Ian Corner said the visit to the RNLI lifeguards rounded off a busy summer for the group.

He said: ‘We’ve had a good mix of educational visits and fun sessions over the summer holidays and the visit to the lifeguards combined both.

‘It’s really important that young people understand beach safety messages and the reasons for them because this is their local area and the beach is on their doorstep.

‘They’ve all really enjoyed it and some of them are certainly interested in becoming lifeguards in the future.’

Triple rescue for Oban RNLI

Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Willie Melville, Branch Guild Press Officer

Oban RNLI lifeboat (credit Dennis Hardley) (Credit Dennis Hardley)Oban RNLI lifeboat had a busy time on Thursday evening (27 August) assisting with a medical evacuation from Mull and two stricken yachts.

The lifeboat initially launched at 8.56pm hours to bring a patient from the Isle of Mull to hospital in Oban. While re-fuelling after this service she was tasked to attend a yacht hard aground in the anchorage at Puilladobhrainn with two adults and a youngster aboard and, while under way to that incident, received a message from H.M. Coastguard that yet another yacht was in difficulties in the same anchorage.

The wind throughout was South-westerly Force 7-8. This latter yacht indicated that she wished to leave the anchorage and the lifeboat lead her out to the open sea before returning to send a dinghy in to pick up the three people from the original casualty whose re-floating had never been an option.

These three survivors were taken back to Oban in the lifeboat and where Coxswain MacKillop arranged for them to be put up in the Royal Hotel. The Manager of the Royal Hotel was extremely helpful in arranging accommodation for them on one of Oban’s busiest nights of the year – Argyllshire Gathering Day.

After some fours from launching the lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service again at 0.45am

Boeing to Demonstrate Ground Robotics Capabilities at US Army ‘Rodeo’


ST. LOUIS, Aug. 28, 2009 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] will demonstrate
its ground robotics capabilities at the U.S. Army's first Robotics Rodeo, to
be held Sept. 1-3 at Fort Hood, Texas. The event is sponsored by the Army's
Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and
Fort Hood's III Corps.


RNLI rescues injured woman from rocks


Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Jacqui Puddle, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer

Barmouth RNLI Inshore lifeboat was launched at 23.01 on Thursday evening to assist a woman who had fallen on some rocks near the southern end of Barmouth Bridge.

Within minutes of the call out, the inshore life boat was manned and on its way to the incident in a gale force wind and choppy sea. On arrival at the scene the volunteer lifeboat crew found paramedics already in attendance treating the casualty who was suffering from head injuries after tripping and falling down amongst the rocks.

The volunteer lifeboat crew with the assistance of the paramedics transferred the woman to the inshore lifeboat.

The ILB with a paramedic on board travelled back to the harbour where an ambulance was waiting. The woman who is on holiday from Lancashire was taken by ambulance to hospital.

RNLI ‘MOB Guardian’ is fishermen’s friend 50 miles offshore


Date: 25/08/2009

Author: Julia Sylvester, Public Relations Officer

RNLI MOB Guardian aids four fishermen, onboard the fishing vessel the Aeolus, 50 miles offshore, without engine power or radio contact. At the time wave height was reported to be 3m with winds of 26knots (30mph) gusting. Using MOB Guardian, the skipper contacted the search and rescue authorities that were able to pinpoint the location of the vessel by using information provided by the system. Assistance was sent to the fishing vessel, providing reassurance to the fishermen who eventually carried out temporary repairs to their vessel engine, ensuring a safe return to port.

Following the incident Skipper James Jack stated,

‘MOB Guardian has proved its worth. The unit gave us the reassurance that the RNLI operations room in Poole would react swiftly and make contact with the Coastguard, when we were unable to do so ourselves due to a major power failure.’ Skipper Jack also expressed his gratitude to Aberdeen Coastguard and to the vessels in the area that assisted him.

John Fulton RNLI Fishing Safety Manager for Scotland adds,

‘Even 50 miles out the MOB Guardian system proved to be a real fishermen’s friend. Although the fishing crew were not in immediate danger, it provided them with reassurance that help was at hand, should things turn nasty.

‘I hope details of this incident inspires other fishermen to get themselves equipped with MOB Guardian – at the moment some fishermen may find that with European Grants, RNLI legacy funding and by reclaiming VAT, they may not even have to pay a penny for the lifesaving system. I would urge fishermen to find out more by contacting the RNLI MOB Guardian helpdesk on 01202 663142 or As we enter autumn with weather and sea conditions likely to worsen, please think about increasing your safety by using MOB Guardian.’

Details of Incident:

On Wednesday 19 August, the 45ft fishing vessel Aeolus was fishing 50 miles off Fraserburgh with four crew onboard. At the time a fresh southerly Force 6 wind was blowing. At 12 noon Skipper James Jack decided to shift grounds and was underway when the boat lost all power and the engine stopped.

Skipper Jack and his crew tried to effect repairs without success. At this point Skipper Jack attempted to make radio contact on channels 16 and 8 with a vessel that was approximately four miles away, without success. At this point he also attempted to make contact with Aberdeen Coastguard, again without success, and concluded that the major power failure had rendered his radio ineffective.

After more than an hour from the initial loss of engine power, and after attempts to restart the engine had failed, as had attempts at radio contact, Skipper Jack took the decision to activate his MOB Guardian unit. On receiving the alert at 1.44pm, the RNLI operations room at Poole contacted Falmouth Coastguard who contacted the local Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at Aberdeen. They in turn alerted vessels in the vicinity of Aeolus. One of these vessels made contact with Aeolus and requested her position. Although he still had no power, Skipper Jack was able to give an accurate latitude and longitude position from his MOB Guardian unit, which was relayed by the other vessel to Aberdeen Coastguard. The Coastguard conveyed the information to another vessel who then made contact with Aeolus and made way towards them.

At this time Skipper Jack was successful in making a temporary repair to the engine and was able to make way to Fraserburgh Harbour, with the other vessel in close attendance until Skipper Jack was within VHF distance of Aberdeen Coastguard. Aeolus and the four fishermen onboard finally reached harbour safely at 10pm.

Information about RNLI MOB Guardian

MOB Guardian is the only system that provides safety cover for both the vessel and individual crew members. As soon as the fishing vessel goes to sea, MOB Guardian connects with the RNLI operations room.

The system expects the MOB Guardian unit to automatically update its position at hourly intervals. If contact is lost, the shore-side system automatically tries to re-establish contact. If contact cannot be established with the MOB Guardian unit, the RNLI operations room is alerted who confirm if the boat is at sea. If so details are passed to the Coastguard, who accept it as a Search and Rescue (SAR) alert.

The benefit of fitting MOB Guardian is that the RNLI can pass the last known position, course and speed of the fishing boat to the Coastguard who can programme it into their own location software that allows for tide, wind and environmental factors – helping take the search out of search and rescue.

In addition, each crew member wears a personal safety device (PSD), which communicates constantly with the base unit. If a crew member falls overboard the communication link is broken and the base unit, sounds a very loud klaxon aboard the fishing vessel. An LCD screen on the base unit displays the range and bearing back to the GPS position of the man overboard incident, and alerting the RNLI via a satellite system in less than 3 minutes. This information is passed straight away to the Coastguard, who will initiate a SAR mission. No other system works on the ‘always-on’ principle and is linked directly to the RNLI and other SAR authorities via the shore-side monitoring infrastructure.

Additionally the MOB Guardian base unit inside the vessel features an emergency button that can be pressed manually to send an alert to the RNLI operations room – which happened in this incident.

See the Red Arrows at RNLI Hoylake and West Kirby Lifeboat Open Day

Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Alison Levett, Divisional Media Relations Manager

Hoylake RNLI lifeboat crew in action (Credit Graham Brazendale)Tens of thousands of people are expected to enjoy the RNLI Hoylake and West Kirby Lifeboat Day on Bank Holiday Monday, when the world famous Red Arrows will be the star attraction.

The free event, held on the Promenade at Hoylake from 10am to 6pm, is always a huge crowd puller and last year raised more than £20,000 for the RNLI Hoylake Lifeboat Appeal.

As well as the Red Arrows – expected to appear in the late afternoon – there will be an RAF helicopter search and rescue display. The RNLI’s Hoylake all weather lifeboat, West Kirby inshore lifeboat and New Brighton rescue hovercraft will also be on public display.

Among the other attractions is the chance to win a VW Toureg, supplied by Liverpool Volkswagen, in a throw the dice competition. Wirral Pipe Band will be performing and there will also be an MOD climbing wall, charity stalls, a funfair and raffles to keep visitors amused.

All money raised will again go towards the RNLI Hoylake Lifeboat Appeal so organisers are hoping for a huge turn out, said RNLI Senior Fundraising Manager, Audrey Farr.

She added: ‘The Open Day is traditionally one of our charity’s biggest fundraising events in the region and is always incredibly well supported. Hopefully, the weather will be kind to us and people will flock to the Promenade to enjoy all the great activities we have planned, including the amazing Red Arrows. A great deal of work has already gone into the day and I’d like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who will be helping to make the Open Day one of the biggest and best yet.’

To support the appeal, call 0845 650 3999, log on to  or send a donation to RNLI Hoylake Appeal, Admail 4049, Hoylake, CH47 1AA

RNLI lifeguards carry out three rescues in one hour

Date: 28/08/2009

Author: Meg Pugh, Lifeguard Press Officer

RNLI lifeguard (Credit RNLI/)RNLI lifeguards patrolling Aberporth beach carried out three separate rescues within the same hour yesterday (Thursday 27 August).

One of the charity’s lifeguards, Olivia Draper, was on water’s edge when she noticed two boys and a man in an inflatable dinghy caught in a strong offshore wind drifting approximately 200 metres away from the lifeguard beach unit. One of the boys entered the sea and attempted to pull the inflatable in without success. Lifeguard Olivia paddled out to them on her rescue board and aided them in.

Ten minutes later a mother and 13-year old daughter, who were on holiday from the West Midlands, capsized their double kayak. The pair was pushed against rocks by waves while they tried to hold their kayak. RNLI lifeguards Olivia Draper and Hedydd Llewellyn used their rescue boards to bring the pair safely to dry land.

Shortly afterwards, another inflatable with two fifteen-year old boys in, got caught in a strong offshore wind and was quickly drifting away from the beach. Lifeguard Olivia Draper used her rescue board to bring the dinghy to shore.

RNLI lifeguard Olivia Draper, comments:

‘All three incidents happened in the same place near the reef where there can be strong rip currents. We advise that inflatables should be kept for swimming pools and not used in the sea as it only takes a light offshore breeze for them to be swept a long way from shore.’

Inflatable toys are a common cause of incidents that RNLI lifeguards and RNLI lifeboat crews respond to, particularly during the summer months.

If inflatables are used in the sea, they should only be used on a lifeguarded beach, between the red and yellow flags. They should never be taken out in big waves or when the orange windsock is flying, as this indicates an offshore wind that could take the inflatable away from the shore.

The RNLI’s guide to beach safety, On The Beach, is packed full of useful safety tips. The guide is available free-of-charge by emailing or calling 0800 328 0600.

For further beach safety tips visit the RNLI’s website

Ceredigion County Council currently funds the lifeguards, while the extensive training and equipment needed is provided by the RNLI. It costs the charity an average of £1,000 each year to train and equip each lifeguard.