CSExtra – Friday, June 15, 2012
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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. China’s fourth human space mission nears a lift off on Saturday. The sun unleashes two massive flares headed toward Earth. Europe invests more in its troubled Exo-Mars program, a multi-mission initiative that NASA recently pulled out of. A U. S. Senate oversight panel will take another look at NASA’s commercial cargo and crew space initiatives. The hearing scheduled for next week follows the successful SpaceX re-supply mission to the International Space Station in May. NASA’s long running Cassini mission detects methane lakes near the equator of Saturn’s moon Titan. A look at the challenges of mining the solar system. Copenhagen Suborbital’s once fanciful plans to start a space passenger service take shape.
1. From Spacepolicyonline.com: China’s Shenzou 9 mission, with three crew — including the country’s first woman astronaut, is nearing a Saturday lift off. China announced the astronauts will attempt a manual rather than an automated docking with China’s orbiting Tiangong-1 Space lab. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/preparations-on-track-for-launch-of-first-chinese-space-station-crew-manual-docking-planne
A. From Spacepolitics.com: China’s upcoming mission will mark the country’s fourth human spaceflight, but its first in four years. The docking mission has experts speculating how rapidly China’s space program is advancing and whether it poses a security threat to western nations like the United States. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/06/14/examining-chinese-space-advances-and-challenges/
2. From MSNBC.com and Cosmic Log: An active sun unleashes two coronal mass ejections toward the Earth this week. Impact with the Earth’s magnetic field is expected on Saturday. Auroral displays should become more intense. http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/
A. From Discovery.com: A look in words and pictures at how satellite missions monitor solar activity, including massive sun spot eruptions and flares that can send massive amounts of plasma hurtling into the solar system. http://news.discovery.com/space/incoming-sun-blasts-huge-magnetic-bubble-at-earth-120614.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
3. From Space News: The European Space Agency finds $104 million to fund its Exo-Mars project through the end of the year. Budget challenges remain, however. NASA, faced with sending constraints of its own, dropped out of the joint project to launch Mars orbiting and roving spacecraft in 2016 and 2018. Russia is moving head with plans to replace NASA as a partner in what is ultimately to become an effort to retrieve soil and rock samples from the red planet and return them to Earth for analysis. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/061412-esa-agrees-fund-exomars-until-years-end.html
4. From Spacepolitics.com: The Senate Commerce Committee schedules a June 20 hearing on NASA’s commercial cargo and crew initiatives. The hearing follows the first commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station — flown by SpaceX in May. So far, the House and Senate have not provided all of the funding requested by the White House for NASA’s commercial crew initiative, The commercial programs are the centerpiece of a U. S. strategy to replace the space shuttle.. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/06/14/senate-commerce-committee-to-revisit-commercial-spaceflight-next-week/
A. From The Los Angeles Times: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden offers praise to SpaceX workers in his visit to the company’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters. SpaceX flew the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station in May. More than a thousand workers received Bolden’s thanks. http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-spacex-nasa-visit-20120614,0,5805190.story
5. From the Los Angeles Times: NASA’s long running Cassini mission to Saturn detects shallow methane filled lakes near the equator of the moon Titan. On Titan, methane acts much as water does on the Earth. Lakes of the organic fluid were previously found near Titan’s poles. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-titan-methane-lake-20120614,0,3705613.story
6. From Popular Mechanics: Tom Jones, planetary scientist and former NASA astronaut, looks at the challenges and rewards of extracting valuable resources from the asteroids, the moon and Mars. They include over coming risk, finding the right technologies and identifying markets for resources like water and minerals. http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/deep/tapping-the-riches-of-space-9720906?click=pm_latest
7. From Wired.com: Four years ago, Kristian von Bergston and Peter Madsen may have seemed a bit odd as they climbed into a home built submarine docked in Copenhagen and emerged with a plan to build a suborbital rocket. After a successful unmanned test flight, it seems they were not so fanciful after all. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/06/copenhagen-suborbitals-profile/
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