CSExtra – Monday, July 16, 2012
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities under way around the world, plus a roundup from the weekend. U.S., Russian and Japanese astronauts lift off for the International Space Station. NASA enlists four U. S. companies to study Space Launch System advanced propulsion options. A year after NASA’s final shuttle mission, Florida workers are still struggling to resurrect their careers. The Earth responds to increased solar activity. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory promises drama, raises questions. Should NASA pare back its space center network? The European Space Agency considers a new member state. Pluto, a binary planet? A look at major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com and CBS News, July 15: U.S., Russian and Japanese astronauts lifted off late Saturday for the International Space Station. The Soyuz crew transport with Sunita Williams, Yuri Malenchenko and Akihiko Hosihide is scheduled to dock with the station’s Russian segment at 12:52 a.m. EDT, Tuesday. Liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was at 10:40 p.m. EDT, following a trouble-free countdown. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp32/launch.html
A. From Ria Novosti of Russia, July 15: Aboard the space station, commander Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joe Acaba await the arrival of the Soyuz crew. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120715/174612531.html
B. From Spacepolicyonline.com, July 14: Russia’s latest Soyuz mission lifts off on the 37th anniversary of the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, a mission that brought five astronauts from the United States and the former Soviet Union together in orbit for the first time. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/three-iss-crew-members-launch-as-astp-is-remembered
2. From Space News, July 13: NASA commits $200 million for studies of six approaches to upgrade the Space Launch System that serves as the propulsion source for the agency’s future deep space human exploration plans. The concepts were submitted by Northrop Grumman, Aerojet General, ATK Launch Systems, and Dynetics. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120713-companies-booster-studies.html
A. From Space News, July 13: As the European Space Agency looks to upgrade the Ariane 5, it considers a surprise proposal from Britain. http://www.spacenews.com/launch/120713-europe-rocket-design-finalist.html
B. From Ria Novosti of Russia, July 15: Russia will start test of a new version of the venerable Soyuz rocket by the end of 2012. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120715/174607233.html
3. From The Associated Press via The Houston Chronicle, The Washington Post and others, July 15: It’s been one year since NASA’s final space shuttle mission. At the Kennedy Space Center where the missions were prepared, many who lost their jobs at the end of the 30-year program are still rebuilding their professional lives. “Nobody wants to hire the old guy,” said one former shuttle manager, 62. http://www.chron.com/default/article/Space-workers-struggle-a-year-after-last-shuttle-3708273.php
4. From Spaceweather.com, July 16: The Earth is undergoing a long geomagnetic storm, following the impact from a coronal mass ejection on July 14. The Northern Lights are visible in the U. S. Midwest as far south as Kansas. www.spaceweather.com
5. From The Los Angeles Times, July 14: In three weeks, NASA engineer Ray Baker will be among those holding their breath as NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover reaches Mars for a landing in Gale Crater. The mission, a decade in the making, relies on a novel landing strategy. At stake is a $2.5 billion, two-year effort to determine whether the Martian environment is/was suitable for microbial life. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-mars-curiosity-landing-20120715,0,5399348.story
A. From The Wall Street Journal, July 13: If Curiosity’s encounter with Mars brings humanity closer to extraterrestrial life, who is in charge of what happens next? The Journal speculates on the answer. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303567704577516701713680084.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
6. From Florida Today, July 14: NASA should consider paring back the number of installations under its banner, writes columnist John Kelly. NASA’s inspector general is conducting an assessment of the agency’s strategic direction with the National Research Council at the direction of Congress. “If NASA were being established today, how would it be structured and what would its priority programs be for the 21st century?,” asks U. S. Rep. Frank Wolf, the Virginia lawmaker who chairs NASA’s House appropriations panel. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120715/COLUMNISTS0405/307150046/NASA-should-consider-closing-sites-save-space?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space%20News
7. From Spacepolicyonline.com, July 13: The European Space Agency takes measures to add a 20th state to its membership, Poland. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/esa-moves-closer-to-adding-another-member-poland
8. From Discovery.com, July 15: Astronomers announced the discovery of Pluto’s fifth moon last week. Discovery considers whether Pluto may be a binary planet. http://news.discovery.com/space/is-charon-a-moon-of-pluto-or-a-binary-planet-120715.html
9. From Spacepolicyonline.com, July 14: A look at the major space-related activities planned for the week ahead. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-july-16-20-2012