CSExtra – Monday, February 13, 2012
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe, plus a roundup from the weekend. In Washington, President Obama unveils his 2013 budget proposal on Monday, including space spending. Advance reports suggest the White House will propose a small cut in NASA’s top line. Europe’s Vega launcher makes a successful debut early Monday. NASA looks to lunar orbit for a human deep space gateway. The 50th Anniversary of John Glenn’s Mercury orbital mission approaches. SpaceX looks to late April for the first U. S. commercial supply mission to the International Space Station. A key Earth observation mission slips to a 2014 lift off. New Horizons sprints toward Pluto. Shuttle astronaut, astronomy professor Steve Hawley contemplates the nation’s future in space. NASA retires the first of two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. A look at major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Space News, Feb 10: President Obama sends his 2013 budget proposal to Congress today. The White House recommends $17.7 billion for NASA, the lowest level in four years. The top line compares to the $17.8 million agreed to for the current fiscal year. Under the new spending plan, work on the Space Launch System, the agency’s new heavy lift rocket for human deep space missions, will rise slightly to $1.88 billion. But work on the companion Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle is projected for $1 billion, or $200 million less than in 2012. Planetary science will fall from $1.5 to $1.2 billion. Spending on Earth sciences will rise slightly, Space News reports. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120210-wh-funding-cut-nasa.html
A. From Aviation Week & Space Technology, Feb. 10: As widely reported, cuts in NASA’s planetary science programs will pay for overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope. As part of an overall strategy to live within a flat budget, NASA would reduce Orion/MPCV spending to keep the four person capsule on pace with Space Launch System development. NASA will seek $830 million for Commercial Crew Development, a key initiative to transfer human low Earth orbit transportation responsibilities to the private sector. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/awx/2012/02/10/awx_02_10_2012_p0-423848.xml&headline=NASA%20Wants%20A%20Flat%20Budget%20For%20Fiscal%202013&channel=space
B. From the Washington Post, Feb. 11: The tough sledding under way at NASA as the agency under goes a human spaceflight transition has a bright spot: robotic missions with big time science objectives. With major missions under way to Mars, Jupiter and Pluto, the endeavor now faces spending cuts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasas-science-missions-bring-the-universe-into-sharper-focus-even-as-agency-struggles-with-manned-flight/2012/02/10/gIQApIqT7Q_story.html
C. From MSNBC, Feb.10: What’s NASA done lately for Earthlings? Quite a bit, according to the agency’s latest edition of “Spinoff,” an annual accounting of the benefits that come from space exploration. Here’s a few: software that speeds airline passengers toward their destinations and a water dispersal technology to fight wildfires more effectively. http://futureoftech.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/10/10374642-what-has-nasa-done-for-you-lately-lots?chromedomain=cosmiclog
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: Europe’s new Vega rocket launches from French Guiana early Monday on an inaugural voyage with an Italian satellite that will test tenets of Albert Einstein’s theories. Other small payloads are also aboard. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/vega/vv01/status.html
3. From Space.com, Feb. 10: NASA contemplates an orbiting lunar station, using Space Launch System propulsion and the Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle hardware. At the L-2 Lagrange point, NASA and its partners could establish a gateway for missions to near-Earth asteroids, the Martian moons and ultimately the red planet. http://www.space.com/14518-nasa-moon-deep-space-station-astronauts.html
4. From Florida Today, Feb. 12: America will mark the 50th anniversary of Mercury astronaut John Glenn’s first U. S. orbital mission on Feb. 20. In an interview with Florida Today, Glenn, now 90, says the U. S. should make the most of the International Space Station to demonstrate the value of spaceflight to taxpayers. Glenn says he was dismayed at President Obama’s decision to proceed with the 2011 retirement of NASA’s shuttle fleet and former President Bush’s decision to develop a human lunar base. The former U. S. senator and Marine Corps aviator believes deep space missions can follow the space station. This entry has links to Florida Today’s multi-part series on NASA’s Mercury program. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120212/SPACE/302020080/For-space-hero-John-Glenn-s-one-more-mission?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space
A. From the Zanesville Times Recorder of Ohio: John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, vividly recalls his flight 50 years ago. On Feb. 20, 1962, he circled the Earth three times. Almost daily, Glenn recalls the images of the Earth and the fiery re-entry from the suspect heat shield on his Mercury capsule, Friendship 7. Glenn’s historic flight, re-scheduled 11 times, provided the U. S. with a boost in its bid to catch up to Cold War rival, the Soviet Union. http://www.zanesvilletimesrecorder.com/article/20120212/NEWS01/202120303
5. From Florida Today, Feb. 11: SpaceX looks to April 20 for the launching of the first commercial supply mission to the International Space Station. One of two companies partnered with NASA for the transition of cargo missions from the government to the private sector, SpaceX is working software issues that are pacing the mission. Other vehicle traffic to the station as well as scheduled crew rotations would further influence the launch date. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120211/SPACE/302110016/Falcon-test-won-t-fly-until-spring?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space
6. From Spaceflightnow.com, Feb. 10: NASA looks to mid-2014, more than a year’s delay, for the launching of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a spacecraft designed to monitor carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere and track its sources. The first OCO was lost in a 2009 launch failure. NASA decided earlier this month to re-open the launch services competition. The spacecraft is considered an important element part of climate change research. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1202/10oco2/
7. From Discovery.com, Feb. 13: NASA’s New Horizon mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, launched in 2006, enters the figurative home stretch of its long mission to Pluto. The spacecraft is on course to fly by its distant target in July 2015. http://news.discovery.com/space/pluto-probe-sprints-past-2-billion-mile-marker-120213.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
8. From The Topeka Capital-Journal of Kansas, Feb. 10: Former NASA astronaut Steve Hawley, now a professor of physics and astronomy, ponders America’s future in human space exploration. Russia and China seem more urgent in their pursuits, he tells a breakfast audience. http://cjonline.com/news/2012-02-10/topekans-hear-former-astronaut-hawley
9. From Collectspace.com, Feb. 10: NASA retires one of the agency’s two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. The big Boeing 747s flew NASA’s shuttle orbiters across country piggy back style. One remaining 747 SCA will be used to ferry Discovery and the other retired shuttle orbiters to public display venues on the East and West coasts. The retired aircraft will become a source of spare parts for the joint NASA/German Sofia Airborne Observatory. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-021012a.html
10. From Florida Today: In a conversation with columnist John Kelly, former NASA shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach expresses confidence in the ability of the nation’s commercial sector to launch astronauts into Earth orbit. Leinbach, left NASA for United Launch Alliance, after presiding over the lift off of NASA’s final shuttle flight in July 2011. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120212/COLUMNISTS0405/302120049/Leader-has-full-faith-private-sector
11. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Feb. 12: Major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead. Space spending will take center stage at many. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-february-13-17-2012
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