CSExtra – Monday, May 20, 2013
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest news and commentary on space related activities, plus a look back at weekend happenings. NASA’s widely watched but troubled Kepler mission to find Earth-like exo-planets draws suggestions for remedies from engineers and scientists. An impasse over NASA’s Commercial Crew Program? Star Trek Into The Darkness opens atop the U. S. box office. Calculating the appeal of the Dutch Mars One mission. Russia’s critter filled Bion-1 mission descends. Why the high cost of spaceflight? The answer is long standing. Georgia’s place in commercial space. Lessons drawn from Canadian Chris Hadfield’s space station flight. China invests in the satellite navigation business. Still due Congress, NASA’s 2013 operating plan harbors a deep cut to the planetary science line in spite of Congressional opposition. Buzz Aldrin recalls the Apollo 11 moon landing. Telescopes spot powerful meteor blast on the moon. Searching for bipartisanship in the Texas congressional delegation. A look at major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From NBC News and CosmicLog.com, May 18: Engineers and scientists rush forward with advice to recover NASA’s popular exo-planet hunting Kepler Space Telescope. Operations were suspended earlier this month when a second of the spacecraft’s four reaction wheels stopped spinning. NASA plans to attempt a recovery.
A. From Space.com, May 18: With 2,700 exo-planet candidates to its credit, Kepler has locked a place in the annals of space exploration regardless of the mission’s future.
2. From SpacePolitics.com, May 19: Differences between NASA and Congress emerged last week during a Washington meeting of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). NASA Administrator Charles Bolden urged support for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program request for $821 million in 2014 spending to avoid further contracts with the Russians to launch astronauts to the International Space Station. A recently renewed agreement with the Russians ends in 2017. A Congressional staffer suggests the space agency must “find a way” to work with the money available to achieve a 2017 crew launch capability.
3. From The Los Angeles Times, May 19: Star Trek Into the Darkness tops the U.S. box office during the opening weekend.
4. From Space.com, May 19: If space tourism affords more humans a view of the Earth from space, it may save the environment, NASA’s John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut and currently the space agency’s associate administrator for space science, tells a California audience.
5. From NBC News and CosmicLog.com, May 19: The Dutch sponsored Mars One mission to send Earthlings on a one way colonization mission draws nearly 80,000 applicants in the early going. What’s the appeal? a novelist, student and aging psychiatrist offer their opinions.
6. From Ria Novosti, of Russia, May 19: Russia recovers its Bion 1-M unpiloted satellite with a host of biological specimens aboard, including mice, geckos and snails.
A. From AFP via Discovery.com, May 19: Russia’s Bion 1-M mission takes casualties. Scientists flew the animals to gather data for a future human trip to Mars.
7. From Florida Today, May 18, Why the high cost of spaceflight? It’s the expense of reaching Earth orbit, an obstacle that public-private partnerships are organizing to solve, writes columnist John Kelly. Kelly tracks the testimony of Wayne Hale, the retired former NASA shuttle program manager, who appeared before a Senate panel last week.
A. From The Orlando Sentinel, May 17: In Florida, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center announces plans to make Pad 39A available to commercial launch vehicles. Pad 39A was one of two former space shuttle pads.
B. From Florida Today, May 17: NASA is seeking commercial operators for Pad 39A and prepared to sign a five year lease. Money at NASA to maintain the pad with an Apollo heritage is evaporating.
8. From the Columbus Ledger Enquirer, of Georgia, May 18: Georgia is well suited to join the competition for a state supported commercial space port, writes Shawn Cruzen, Columbus State University professor of space and Earth sciences.
9. From Time Magazine, May 19: Canadian Chris Hadfield, just back from nearly five months aboard the International Space Station introduces new audiences to the “cool” of space flight with song and use of social media, according to a critical assessment of NASA’s recent missions. Many Americans have no idea NASA operates an International Space Station let alone who is aboard, according to the Time op-ed.
10. From Xinjuanet, of China, May 18: Beijing is prepared to invest $1.1 billion in satellite navigation based industries.
11. From Space Politics.com, May 17: NASA’s operating plan for 2013, a reflection of the sequester and rescission, will seemingly not spare the agency’s planetary science line a significant cut, according a Planetary Exploration Newsletter report that examined a draft of the operating plan that was due Congress May 10.
12. From The Wall Street Journal, May 16: NASA Astronaut Buzz Aldrin reminisces on the Apollo 11 moon landing of July 20, 1969. “When I see the moon up there, I don’t say to myself, Hey, I walked on your face, or Thanks for disrupting my life,” writes Aldrin. ”I just feel grateful it let us land safely in 1969 and let us take off.”
13. From Space.com, May 17: Earth-based telescopes spot a bright March 17 blast on the moon. The impactor may have part of a larger event that included a meteor shower on the Earth.
A. From Space.com and NASA: The video version of the March 17 bright lunar impact.
14. From The Texas Tribune and and The New York Times, May 16: In Washington, two Texas lawmakers, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, invite their fellow state lawmakers to a bipartisan breakfast to assure support for topics of interest to both parties. NASA is one,
15. From Spacepolicyonline.com, May 19, a look at the major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
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