CSExtra – Monday, March 18, 2013
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe, plus a look at weekend events. Three U.S. and Russian astronauts return safely to Earth from the International Space Station late Friday, ending a 144 day journey. Orbital Sciences Corp, looks to mid-April for the test flight of the Antares rocket, which could soon become the cornerstone for the second U. S. commercial cargo service to the International Space Station. The U. S. House and Senate schedule hearings on threats posed by near Earth objects. The House and Senate also deal with budget issues, one of which must be dealt with to avoid a March 27 government shut down. The current U. S. budget sequester slows university sponsored research. The James Webb Space Telescope reaches a structural milestone. Comet Pan-STARRS, forerunner to a larger, brighter comet? The Swiss unveil plans for an air launch satellite deployment system. A look at major space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com and CBS News, March 16: Russia’s Soyuz TMA-O6M capsule descents safely into Kazakhstan late Friday, delivering NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin to Earth after 144 days in orbit. The departure left the first Canadian, Chris Hadfield, in charge of the space station’s Expedition 35.
A. From Florida Today, March 15: Space Station commander Chris Hadfield draws audiences to spaceflight with social media. Then, there’s Hadfield’s musical skills, also a popular draw.
B. From Ria Novosti, of Russia, March 16: British soprano Sarah Brightman may not be headed to the International Space Station in 2015, after all, according to Vladimir Popovkin, chief of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos. Brightman’s spot on a Soyuz transport may go to a professional European Space Agency astronaut aboard a flight extended from several days to a month.
2. From Space News, March 15: Orbital Sciences Corp., looks to April 16-18 for the launch of its Antares rocket on a test flight under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. Orbital plans to become the second U. S. commercial cargo supplier for the International Space Station, joining SpaceX. The Orbital flight, if successful, will be followed by a demonstration flight all the way to the station.
3. From Spacepolitics.com, March 15: The House Science, Space and Technology committee as well as the Senate Commerce Committee will host hearings on the threat to Earth posed by near Earth objects on Tuesday and Wednesday. The hearings were triggered by the surprise explosion of a small asteroid over Russia on Feb. 15 and a pair of recent close encounters featuring larger NEOs.
4. From Spacepolicyonline.com, March 15: The House and Senate make progress on a budget Continuing Resolution that would avoid a late March government shutdown. The CR would stand in lieu of a 2013 fiscal year budget. Meanwhile, the House and Senate continue efforts to forge 2014 spending plans as they await a White House budget proposal.
5. From Florida Today, March 17: A recent poll from the General Social Survey finds little enthusiasm for spending on space exploration, notes columnist John Kelly. The survey reveals support for social programs benefiting education, the elderly, health care and the environment with little understanding of how much is actually invested in space exploration.
6. From The Washington Post, March 16: The U. S. budget sequester is stemming the flow of research funds to the nation’s universities. About $30 billion flows for work in fields ranging from agriculture to astrophysics. About $1 billion is at risk.
7. From AmericaSpace.com, March 16: Essential support structure for the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, comes together. The JWST is headed toward a late 2018 lift off with optics designed to study the earliest galaxy formation and other celestial phenomena.
8. From The Los Angeles Times, March 17: Comet Pan-STARRS is whetting appetites in the Northern Hemisphere for comets. Some experts are saying Comet Ison, tracking now toward the sun, could be a real sensation in late November. Though unpredictable, Ison could be large enough to shine in daylight or follow a trajectory that could make it visible throughout the night. Some predict a breakup that would shine like a string of pearls.
A. From NASA Science News: Comet Pan-STARRS graces the western sky after sunset after surviving a trip around the sun.
B. From The Orlando Sentinel, March 17: Pan-STARRS in the Florida skies.
9. From Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 15: Swiss Space System plans 2017 tests flights of a new airborne launch system, combining an AirbusA300 and a small un-piloted shuttle that will serve as the second stage for small satellite launch system.
10. From Spacepolicyonline.com, March 17: A look ahead at the major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead. Budget issues for 2013 and 2014 are high on the list. Hearings are also scheduled for the House and Senate on the threat from near Earth objects.
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