CSExtra – Monday, June 11, 2012
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Monday’s space news scan offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world, plus a roundup of weekend happenings. China is days from the launching of its first human space docking mission. NASA’s Spitzer space telescope may have spotted the universe’s earliest objects. U. S. suborbital passenger missions could be under way by late 2013. Four astronauts are set to descend Monday to the Aquarius under sea lab for NASA supervised asteroid exploration simulations. Scientists find the moon a worthy next destination for human explorers. A climate research mission encounters a surprising plant bloom in Arctic waters. NASA troubleshoots a problem with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is to play a key communications role in the August landing of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Russia looks to November to formally team with the European Space Agency for a series of future Mars missions, a role NASA once planned to fill. More accolades for the late Ray Bradbury and his science fiction vision. A look ahead at major space policy related activities scheduled for the week ahead. 1. From Spaceflightnow.com, June 10: China closes in on the launch of its first manned docking mission June 16, state run China television reports. The orbital target is Tiangong 1, the orbital space lab launched in late 2011. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to its launch pad on Saturday. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/china/shenzhou9/120610schedule/
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com and it’s links, June 10: China’s Shenzhou 9 mission launch may come may include China’s first woman astronaut, Wang Ya-ping. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/china-readies-to-launch-space-station-crew-update
2. From Space.com, June 8: NASA’s Spitzer space telescope appears to have imaged the universe’s first objects. Imaged in infrared, they appear to be massive stars or black holes. http://www.space.com/16073-universe-1st-objects-nasa-telescope.html
3. From Space.com: Virgin Galactic aims for late 2013 for its first passenger suborbital missions. The goal, however, depends on the success of a series of test flights. http://www.space.com/16057-virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-launches-2013.html
4. From National Public Radio, June 10: U.S., European and Japanese astronauts descend Monday into the Atlantic waters off Key Largo, Fla., for two weeks of asteroid mission simulations. Three professional astronauts will be joined by Steve Squyres, Cornell University astronomer and Mars scientist, for about two weeks in the Aquarius under sea lab. http://www.npr.org/2012/06/10/154669076/nasa-fishes-for-tools-to-tackle-asteroid
5. From The Atlantic, June 8: Look to the moon for a worthy destination for human space exploration, say scientists. The moon offers much to explain the evolution of the Earth as well as the entire solar system., they say. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/06/the-scientific-case-for-exploring-the-moon/258306/
6. From the Los Angeles Times, June 8: NASA scientists encounter a surprise microscopic plant bloom in the Arctic in 2010 and 2011. The impact of the unexpected plant boom on the regional food chain is not clear. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-arctic-ocean-bloom-20120608,0,1024413.story
7. From the Associated Press via The Houston Chronicle and others. June 8: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is to function as a communications relay for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory, enters a protective safe mode in response to a possible gyroscope issue. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is pursuing a recovery strategy. The MSL/Curiosity rover is on track for an Aug. 6 landing on Mars. http://www.chron.com/default/article/NASA-troubleshoots-problem-on-Mars-Odyssey-orbiter-3620501.php
8. From Ria Novosti of Russia, June 8: The European Space Agency looks to November to formally include Russia as a partner in a series of Mars missions. Russia will replace NASA, which backed out because of budget limitations. http://en.rian.ru/science/20120608/173918094.html
9. From The New York Times, June 8: Ray Bradbury, whose death was reported last week, ranked with Arthur C. Clark, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov among the top ranks of American science fiction writers, according to an op-ed. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/opinion/ray-bradburys-just-suppose-world.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
10. From Spacepolicyonline, June 10: A look at space related activities scheduled for the week ahead. The includes news conferences on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity mission, a workshop on NASA’s evolving Mars exploration program and the launch of the NuSTAR high energy observatory. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-june-11-15-2012