CSExtra – Friday, May 25, 2012
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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on spaced related activities from around the world. In Earth orbit, the SpaceX Dragon capsule moves within range of the International Space Station early Friday. Astronauts await, prepared to capture and berth Dragon with the station’s 58 foot long robot arm, a first for a U. S. company. Faced with a declining planetary science budget, NASA looks to future missions that would nonetheless signal an advance in robotic exploration. Scientists point to volcanism rather than biological activity as the source of carbon molecules in meteorites of Martian origin. NASA and the Google Lunar X-Prize reach an agreement on guidelines to protect the Apollo mission landing sites from future commercial activities. Neil Armstrong sounds a cautionary note on U. S. space policy. China will launch a communications satellite for Sri Lanka. A space shuttle replica sets sail from Florida to Texas. Scott Carpenter celebrates the 50th anniversary of his Mercury flight.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: After a flawless flyby of the International Space Station from 1.5 miles on Thursday, the SpaceX Dragon capsule refines its aim on the International Space Station. Dragon returns early Friday, moving close enough for the station astronauts to capture the freighter with Canadarm 2. Dragon should be berthed to the space station with the 58-foot-long robot arm between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., EST. For independent updates:
A. From The Hill: President Obama calls SpaceX founder Elon Musk to congratulate him on the Dragon mission. http://thehill.com/blogs/twitter-room/other-news/229315-obama-called-spacex-founder-after-successful-launch
B. From the Wall Street Journal: On Thursday, the un-piloted SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completes a successful flyby of the International Space Station to ensure it can safely rendezvous for capture by astronauts positioned inside the orbiting science lab using the Canadarm 2 robot arm. The capsule passes within 1.5 miles of the station. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577424030681057506.html?mod=WSJ_DefenseandAerospace_leftHeadlines
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com: What fits a strategy for significant future robotic exploration in difficult economic times? The possibilities include an orbiting Mars communications satellite; a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter; and series of missions to advance the collection of soil and rock from Mars for return to Earth, says an expert who led a study of the issue for the National Research Council. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/squyres-mars-communications-relay-orbiter-would-pass-decadal-survey-test-europa-also-a-possibility
3. From the Los Angeles Times: Carbon molecular structures in meteorites of Martian origin likely formed through volcanic rather than biological process, a team of scientists led by the Carnegie Institution reported this week. The findings, however, do not rule out life on the red planet. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-carbon-not-biological-20120524,0,1893397.story
4. From Space.com: NASA and the Google Lunar X-Prize reach agreement on guidelines that protect historic and scientifically significant sites on the moon’s surface. The X-Prize Foundation is offering $30 million in prize monies to 26 teams building lunar landers and rovers. The guidelines are focused on the protection of Apollo mission landing sites. http://www.space.com/15863-google-lunar-xprize-moon-apollo-sites.html
A. From Politico: Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong finds the White House and Congress significantly y at odds over NASA’s future. The lack of a clear path forward could diminish youthful enthusiasm for space exploration, Armstrong cautions in a transcript of his remarks made by an Australian accounting group, the website reports. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0512/76717.html
5. From Xinhuanet of China: Sri Lanka turns to China for the launch of a telecommunications satellite in 2015. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/sci/2012-05/24/c_131609112.htm
6. From the Houston Chronicle: A space shuttle replica, long housed for displayed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, set sail by barge on Thursday for Houston. The shuttle replica, known as Explorer, is expected to reach its destination on June 1 for eventual public display at Space Center Houston, a space themed education center. http://www.chron.com/default/article/Space-shuttle-replica-headed-for-Houston-3584422.php
7. From USA Today: Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter marks the 50th anniversary of his three orbit mission with a visit to the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum in New York. The USS Intrepid was Carpenter’s recovery ship. “I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for that ship,” said Carpenter, now 87. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-05-24/scott-carpenter-uss-intrepid/55194334/1
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