HIT: When the space shuttle program completed its quarter-century mission last year, some may have assumed that eastern Kern County's golden years as a hub of space travel and extraorbital exploration were coming to a gradual end. Not so, as NASA demonstrated last week with news of the Dream Chaser.

Developed by Sierra Nevada Corp. of Louisville, Colo., in partnership with NASA, the Dream Chaser is a vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing spaceplane that is expected to provide NASA with a safe, commercially operated transportation service to the International Space Station and back again.

The seven-passenger spacecraft was tested Aug. 22 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, and the reviews were sparkling. The test paves the way for free-flight tests at Dryden this fall. Commercial flights with human passengers could begin as early as 2016.

Could State Farm Insurance be moving out of Bakersfield? The company's huge regional headquarters on Old River Road has been put up for sale and some worry that portends a move, which would have adverse effects on the city's housing market and overall economy.

The State Farm office, which has 1,300 employees, denies that rumors of a move are true, but, by renting space back from a new owner, the insurer will be much more flexible. The Panama-Buena Vista Union School District is worried how the loss of State Farm families will effect the new school attendance boundaries it must soon undertake.

HIT: It's still us vs. litter

Bakersfield's newest freeway is already suffering the fate of many Bakersfield roads: litter. In the two weeks since its opening, the Westside Parkway has been despoiled more than once, but the community is working to end the problem before it gets out of hand.

A crew from the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter has gone out to clean trash and debris from the side of the road as part of a clean-up agreement with the city of Bakersfield, the Department of Transportation and Keep Bakersfield Beautiful. It's a double-win: our highways stay clean and the homeless find their way back into the workforce.

HIT: New health center in town

A new Clinica Sierra Vista center has opened in Bakersfield. The new site at 9001 South H St. is expected to serve more than 5,800 people each year, alleviating congestion at other locations. Clinical has 29 health, six dental and six behavioral centers. Another Bakersfield location will be launched next year. As the largest federally qualified health center in California, and second largest in the nation, Clinica served about 352,000 individuals in 2012.

HIT: Struggling women receive help

For 61 years the Mission at Kern County, formerly known as the Bakersfield Rescue Mission, has helped people get back on their feet. Now, with its new Christian Life Discipleship Program, struggling women have the opportunity to transition back into a lifestyle that involves routine responsibilities.

The new home, located inside The Mission, will house up to eight women at a time.