CSExtra – Friday, July 20, 2012
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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest news and commentary on global space activities. Much rides for NASA on the success of the bold Mars Science Laboratory mission, NASA’s director of planetary sciences tells a California audience. Aquarius, the undersea lab used by NASA astronauts to simulate deep space missions, appears a victim of budget cuts. Orbital Sciences Corp., NASA’s second commercial International Space Station re-supply partner, faces several weeks of new development delays. New York City places NASA’s test shuttle orbiter Enterprise on public display with “Fly Me to the Moon.” At the Kennedy Space Center, NASA’s commercial crew space transportation initiative expects to name two to three contractors by early August for the next phase of development. NASA expects to invest $1 billion over the next two years on a commercial crew launch capability. Russia switches propulsion sources for its six-person Advanced Crew Vehicle. As large as a city block, asteroid 2002 Am 31 glides past the Earth this weekend within range of the Internet. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope identify a surprisingly aged spiral galaxy.
1. From Spacepolitics.com: The success or failure of NASA’s flagship Mars Science Laboratory mission will have a major effect on NASA’s future, Jim Green, the agency’s director of planetary sciences, tells a California audience. MSL, also known as the Curiosity lander, is racing toward an Aug.6 landing on the Red Planet. MSL’s two year mission will attempt to determine whether the red planet was, or is, suitable for microbial life. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/07/19/pluto-no-mars-yes-alien-life-definitely/?tw_p=twt
2. From Politico.com: The Aquarius Reef Base, an undersea habitat off Key West, Fla., appears likely to close because of funding cuts. NASA’s astronauts have used Aquarius annually to simulate deep space exploration missions. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78740.html
3. From Space News: Orbital Sciences Corp., NASA’s second commercial International Space Station re-supply partner, pushes back the time frame for its first Antares/Cygnus test mission to late September/early October. A demonstration flight with cargo bound for the space station, slips to mid-December, in response to development delays. SpaceX, NASA’s other partner, reached the station with cargo in May. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120719-antares-further-delays.html
4. From The Wall Street Journal: NASA’s shuttle flight test orbiter Enterprise makes its public debut on Thursday at New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. Patrons were treated to music — “Fly Me to the Moon.”
5. From Florida Today: By early August, NASA expects to select two and possibly three companies for the next phase of the agency’s post shuttle commercial crew transportation initiative. Headquartered at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability, or CCiCap, initiative will move the winning companies close to the fabrication phase with about $1 billion in funding over two years. NASA is looking toward 2017 to begin the commercial launch of astronauts to the space station. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120720/SPACE/307200031/Space-contractors-anxiously-awaiting-NASA-s-call?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space%20News
A. From The Denver Business Journal: NASA and United Launch Alliance, a participant in the agency’s commercial space transportation initiative, complete a milestone review. The effort is aimed at developing a “human rating” for ULA’s Atlas V rocket. The launcher is the propulsion choice for Blue Origin, Boeing and Sierra Nevada in their quests to provide commercial transportation to the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations. http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/news/2012/07/19/ula-nasa-complete-review-of-rocket.html
B. From The Houston Chronicle: NASA’s final shuttle mission ended a year ago Saturday. The year since has been filled with change for the Johnson Space Center, which managed the shuttle program for three decades. Armed with fewer personnel and less money, JSC is focused on development of Orion, a spacecraft for future human deep space missions, and emerging commercial space transportation services to support the International Space Station. http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/A-year-after-shuttle-s-end-Johnson-Space-Center-3718040.php
6. From Space.com: Russia switches launchers for its future human spacecraft, the six person Advanced Crew Vehicle. The Angara A5 will now shoulder the propulsion responsibilities. A 2018 test flight is planned. http://www.space.com/16658-russia-crew-spacecraft-angara-rocket.html
A. From Xinhuanet of China: Russia begins work on a moon capable spacecraft. The first test flight falls to 2013, the first human launch to 2018. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/sci/2012-07/19/c_123436772.htm
7. From Space.com: Asteroid 2002 Am31, as large as a city block, glides by the Earth at a distance of 3.2 million miles on Sunday. The passage can be monitored on the Internet. http://www.space.com/16662-asteroid-earth-flyby-weekend-2002-am31.html
8. From Scientific American: Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers spot an early spiral galaxy, a star system that formed three billion years after the theorized big bang. BX 442 was noted in a much larger galactic survey. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=grand-design-spiral-bx442
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