CSExtra – Monday, May 6, 2013
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest news and commentary on space related development from across the globe, plus activities from the weekend. Human 2 Mars Summit to examine future exploration at red planet. Some relief from the 2013 sequester? Efforts to restore a U. S. human launch capability rest with adequate funding in 2014, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden cautions a Capitol Hill audience. NASA’s astrophysics chief predicts slow going for new missions with sequestration. The sun erupts. The U. S. Air Force X-51A achieves a hypersonic milestone. A rover from NASA Goddard heads to Greenland to probe the ice pack. NASA’s Juno mission will have fall encounter with Earth. China’s Chang-e 3 lunar lander mission headed for December lift off. The UFO question draws a Washington focus. A pair of House panels to host hearing on NASA’s alien planet research. Near New Orleans, NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility embraces new duties. The promise of fusion space propulsion. Major space policy events planned for the week ahead.
1. From Space.com, May 5: Washington hosts the Humans 2 Mars Summit, a three day look at the challenges and opportunities for exploring the red planet. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Dennis Tito of Inspiration Mars and Apollo 11 moon walker Buzz Aldrin will be among those speaking at the event presented by George Washington University and the nonprofit Explore Mars.
A. From Space News, May 3: NASA looks for synergies between the ambitious OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission set for a 2016 launch and plans to retrieve an asteroid for repositioning near the moon, where it could be explored by U. S. astronauts. Operators preparing the retrieval mission will be sharing the control room with OSIRIS-Rex operators, says James Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division.
2. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post, May 3: Sequestration for some federal agencies, NASA perhaps among them, gets a second look. For those the impact of the 2013 budget restrictions may not be as severe as first calculated. Another $5 billion may be available.
3. From Spacepolitics.com, May 3: We’re running out of wiggle room,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells a Space Transportation Association luncheon, regarding the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Without the requested $821 million for 2014, the effort to establish two commercial services for the launching of astronauts to Earth orbit and the International Space Station cannot make its 2017 target, he tells a Capitol Hill audience. A second issue, the prospect for ISS operations beyond 2020 will likely influence the business case for commercial providers.
A. From Florida Today, May 5: Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo, stepping toward suborbital passenger flight, is a sign of the private space sector moving on, not waiting for NASA to set the pace of progress, writes columnist John Kelly.
4. From Space News, May 3: Restricted NASA budgets will slow new astrophysics missions, Paul Hertz, director of the agency’s Astrophysics Division, informs members of NASA’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee in a teleconference last week. Two new missions selected in April, the $200 million TESS exo-planet seeking space telescope, and Nicer, a $50 million hosted observatory bound for the International Space Station, will command priority, Hertz cautions.
5. From Space.com, May 4. The sun erupts on Friday, dispatching powerful solar flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory snaps pictures of the flares not headed for Earth.
6. From NBCNews.com and Cosmic Log, May 3: The U. S. Air Force X-51A hypersonic test flight program ends on a high note. In an un-piloted test, the test plane Waverider reaches hypersonic velocities following a drop from a B-52H. Charlie Bring, the Air Force Research Laboratory X-51A program manager envisions future hypersonic flight vehicles.
7. From The Los Angeles Times, May 3: NASA’s GROVER rover has landed in Greenland, where until June 8 it will explore the ice pack. Scientists expect radar soundings to reveal changes in the ice that correspond to climate change. GROVER was designed by students during a Goddard Space Flight Center engineering boot camp.
8. From The Pasadena Star-News, of California: NASA’s Jupiter bound Juno mission, launched in 2011, will swing past the Earth on Oct. 9 for a gravity assist. Juno is expected at the Jovian system in 2016. Gravity assists have long been a staple of missions to the outer planets.
9. From AmericaSpace.com, May 4: China aims for a moon landing with the Chang’e 3 mission scheduled for a December launching. A successful soft landing would be the moon’s first since 1976, when the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission touched down. China intends to land its astronauts in the moon by 2025.
10. From The New York Times, May 3: In Washington last week for the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure, some former U. S. lawmakers and government officials convene on the matter of UFOs and a cover up.
11. From Spacepolicyonline.com, May 3: The House Subcommittees on Space and Research will host a hearing Thursday on NASA’s search for Earth-like planets around other stars.
12. From the Baton Rouge Advocate, of Louisiana, May 4: Once the assembly site of the external fuel tanks for NASA’s space shuttle fleet, the Michoud Assembly Facility is coming back to life as a production site for the future Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle, cornerstones for future Mars missions. During a visit on Friday, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver praised the work under way. “This is the heart and soul of our program,” said Garver.
13. From Discovery.com, May 3: Pondering nuclear fusion as a propulsion source for interplanetary travel. “The trouble with space travel is that it takes too long” notes the website as it looks for near term alternatives.
14. From WTOP-TV in Washington, D. C., May 4: The weekend brought Space Day to the Air and Space Museum in Washington. Astronauts and engineers joined historic displays to mark the occasion. “I never miss an opportunity to come in here,” said NASA Astronaut Pat Forrester to the gathering. ”I’m always amazed at what we as humans have done in exploration.”
15. From Spacepolicyonline.com, May 5: A look ahead a space related activities scheduled for the week ahead. They include the Human2Mars Conference in Washington, a Congressional hearing on NASA’s search for extra solar planets and the formal release of Mission to Mars, a new book by Buzz Aldrin with Leonard David.
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