CSExtra – Friday, March 16, 2012
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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the globe. Russia moves to fill the void left by NASA’s pull back from the European Space Agency’s ExoMars program. United Technologies Corp. announces the sale of Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne, the rocket engine manufacturer, citing an uncertain U. S. national space policy. China’s Shenzhou 9 mission may include the country’s first female astronaut. Australian dare devil Felix Baumgartner leaps from 13 miles up as a warm up to his pursuit of a record parachute jump this summer. SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions commercial space travel between the Earth and Mars. SpaceX aims for an April 30 liftoff of the Falcon 9/Dragon on the first U. S. commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers to participate in ISS ”Earth Hour.”
1. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: Russia will fill the void left by NASA’s pull back from the European Space Agency’s Euro Mars missions of 2016 and 2018. Russia will provide a Proton rocket launch as well as entry, descent and landing systems. Last year, NASA retreated from the ESA initiative intended to lay the ground work for a future Mars rock and soil sample return mission. NASA’s 2013 budget proposal includes a reduction in the Mars planetary science line.
A. From the Pasadena Star-News, of California: In an editorial, the newspaper praises NASA’s House appropriations panel for its decision to block NASA from dismantling its collaboration with the European Space Agency on Mars missions during the 2012 budget cycle. The panel chair, U. S. Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia, insists that NASA wait until Congress deliberates on the agency’s 2013 budget request, which includes the withdrawal to conserve spending. http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/opinions/ci_20187447/our-view-good-news-exploring-mars
2. From Space News: Venerable U. S. rocket engine manufacture Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne is for sale, parent United Technologies Corp. announced Thursday. The company produced and refurbished the space shuttle’s main engines. http://www.spacenews.com/launch/120315-rocketdyne-for-sale.html
A. From the Wall Street Journal: The Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne sale is part of United Technologies plan to acquire the Goodrich Corp. http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2012/03/15/utx-plans-3b-in-asset-sales-for-goodrich-deal/?mod=yahoo_hs
B. From the Los Angeles Times: The absence of a “national space policy” makes future growth uncertain, Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne’s chief financial officer told financial analysts, as the sale plan was announced. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rocketdyne-sale-20120316,0,3110112.story
3. From Space.com: China considers a crew that includes a woman for the country’s first human docking mission. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft crew will attempt to dock with China’s unpiloted Tiangong-1 orbital space lab. The launch is planned between June and August. http://www.space.com/14909-china-female-astronauts-space-docking.html
4. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post: Australian daredevil Felix Baumgartner leaps from 13 miles up on Thursday, the latest step in his bid to set a new altitude record for a parachute jump. The quest is part of a Red Bull promotion. Baumgartner leaped from a high altitude balloon near Roswell, N. M. His goal is a 120,000 leap later this year, high enough to break the record of 102,800 feet set in 1960 by U. S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger. Those watching Baumgartner’s quest include NASA engineers involved in the development of astronaut spacecraft escape systems. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/skydiver-aims-to-jump-from-23-miles-up-and-break-sound-barrier-in-record-1st/2012/03/16/gIQAdaOnFS_story.html
5. From Slate.com: Space entrepreneur Elon Musk, the SpaceX founder, envisions a future commercial space travel market, with Mars as the destination and for people prepared to make the red planet their new home. It’s possible within a decade of the Mars first landing, as Musk sees it. The strategy depends on reusable rocket technologies and plentiful fuel. Musk appears on Slate’s The Wright Show. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/03/15/elon_musk_wants_spacex_to_help_establish_a_colony_on_mars_.html
A. From Discovery.com: Mars may have been the best place for life on Earth to start. http://news.discovery.com/space/mars-life-120315.html
6. From Space.com: SpaceX will aim for an April 30 lift off of the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. If the Falcon 9/Dragon departs on that date, the Dragon would linkup with the ISS on May 3. http://www.space.com/14923-spacex-dragon-launch-space-station.html
7. From the Coalition for Space Exploration: The European Space Agency and International Space Station astronaut Andre Kuipers will help host the Earth Hour on March 31. Earth Hour will pay tribute to the environment, and terrestrial participants will turn off their lights for an hour as a show of support. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/%e2%80%9cearth-hour%e2%80%9d-engages-the-space-station
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