CSExtra – Monday, February 6, 2012
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Monday’s CSExtra offers a roundup of the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the globe, including a wrap up of weekend activities. New NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld predicts closer ties between his organization and the agency’s human exploration directorate. New FAA Authorization legislation extends a reprieve on the regulation of commercial space passenger transportation services. Iran launches an Earth observing satellite. China readies a new generation of the Long March rocket family. GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich finishes second in the Nevada caucuses. Was his call for a human lunar base a factor in his slide? Roger Boisjoly, a figure in the early stages of the 1986 Challenger tragedy, dies. NASA looks beyond the United Space Alliance for the long term use of shuttle support hardware. The National Research Council urges NASA to participate in a European dark matter mission. The New Horizons Pluto mission team campaigns for a U. S. postal service stamp. Cornell University looks for Mars mission supporters with an appetite for space cuisine. Major space policy related events scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, Feb. 4: New NASA science chief John Grunsfeld envisions stronger ties with the agency’s human spaceflight directorate. Grunsfeld, an astrophysicist, is a former astronaut. http://bit.ly/yN9msx
2. From MSNBC and Cosmic Log, Feb. 4: New legislation re-authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration includes a three-year reprieve from additional regulations of commercial passenger space transportation services. The move, which has passed the House, is meant to ease additional safety requirements during development activities. http://on.msnbc.com/wPMsWw
A. From USA Today, Feb. 4: SpaceX will be closely watched as it attempts the first re-supply mission to the International Space Station by a U. S. commercial provider. The mission, which will be launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is tentatively scheduled for March 20, but likely to slip into April, as its NASA sponsor and the company proceed cautiously. The success or failure of the demonstration mission is likely to reflect on the wisdom of retiring NASA’s shuttle fleet in 2011. The SpaceX Dragon capsule is intended to carry passengers as well. http://usat.ly/xIdV6K
B. From the Washington Post, Feb. 5: Without adequate budgetary support for NASA’s commercial space transportation initiatives, the future of U. S. human spaceflight could be in jeopardy, a former International Space Station engineer cautions in an op-ed. http://wapo.st/wrOgAz
C. From Florida Today, Feb. 5: Columnist John Kelly finds the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 gaining potential as a human rated space propulsion system. http://on.flatoday.com/zJvx0O
3. From Space.com, Feb. 3: Iran launches a small Earth observing satellite. Iran logged previous satellite launches in 2011, 2010 and 2009. http://bit.ly/zr1XPC
4. From Xinhua.net of China, Feb. 5: The latest editions of China’s Long March rocket series, the LM-5, 6, and 7 should be launching within five years, according to a Chinese Academy of Sciences researcher. http://bit.ly/ABzmWG
5. From Spacepolitics.com, Feb. 5: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich slides in his nomination bid during the Nevada caucuses. Was his Florida moon base speech a factor? http://bit.ly/z6922I
A. From Politico.com: Gingrich defends his moon base proposal on Meet the Press, saying he intended to start a discussion on the nation’s future in space exploration, not raise the federal budget. http://politi.co/wIncQP
B. From the Yuma Sun of Arizona, Feb. 4: What’s so funny about pursuing a human lunar base, the newspaper asks in an op-ed that wonders where we have become a nation of plodders, rather than dreamers? http://bit.ly/Al8ue8
C. From Xinhua.net of China, Feb. 6: Scientists produce new high resolution maps of the moon’s surface gathered by the Chang’e-2 mission between October 2010 and May 2011. http://bit.ly/zSd3tx
D. From the Boston Globe, Feb., 4: In an editorial the newspaper urges an international effort to address a growing space debris issue — a matter more pressing than establishing a moon base. http://bo.st/xfyaQy
6. From The New York Times, Feb. 3: Roger Boisjoly, a key figure in the early days of the 1986 shuttle Challenger tragedy, has died. Boisjoly, a rocket engineer, raised concerns about the cold weather performance of solid rocket booster seals. His death, on Jan. 6, followed a battle with cancer. http://nyti.ms/wsYshS
7. From Space News, Feb. 3: NASA looks beyond United Space Alliance, the Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture, to out source space shuttle maintenance hardware housed near the Kennedy Space Center. USA’s parent companies barred the joint venture from seeking further business, the trade publication reports. http://bit.ly/wUmBYU
8. From Space News, Feb. 3: The National Research Council endorses a $20 million NASA contribution to the European Euclid mission, an observatory focused on studies of dark matter and dark energy. The contribution would result in a NASA spot on the Euclid science team. The quid pro quo should not diminish NASA’s commitment to the more capable Widefield Infrared Survey Telescope mission, the NRC said in a report. http://bit.ly/zNs1ZR
9. From MSNBC/Cosmic Log: A campaign is underway to win U. S. Postal Service approval for a stamp commemorating Pluto and NASA’s New Horizons mission. Launched in 2006, New Horizons is on course for a 2015 flyby of distant Pluto and its moon Charon. Pluto was commemorated in a 1991 stamp branded, “Not Yet Explored.” One older stamp is aboard New Horizons, which is destined to become the first human spacecraft to explore the distant world. Article appeared Feb. 1. http://on.msnbc.com/AvEldi
A. The New Horizons mission team faces a campaign of several years to win U.S. Postal Service approval for the stamp. The design was fashioned by a member of the mission team, Dan Durda, of the Southwest Research Institute. http://bit.ly/yVmet9
10. From Space.com: Cornell University seeks volunteers to test food choices for a future Mars mission during a simulation based in Hawaii. http://bit.ly/ytIRaH
11. From Spacepolicyonline.com: Major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead. http://bit.ly/yHgOw1
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