CSExtra – Monday, September 17, 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 summary from the weekend. In Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA delays until Tuesday the departure of the retired shuttle orbiter Endeavour for Los Angeles and public display at the California Science Center. Unfavorable weather is to blame. U.S. and Russian astronauts depart the International Space Station late Sunday and return safely to Earth, leaving NASA astronaut Sunita Williams in command. NASA faces a sequestration threat. Commercial space passenger travel is ready for a profitable take off, Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson predicts. Visions of interstellar space travel from the 100-year Starship Symposium. A NASA graphic illustrates a Northern Hemisphere warming trend. Planets detected around a cluster of sun-like stars. Mars serves up a geological surprise. At NASA, experts look for ways to expand the Orion capsule’s early test flight envelope. The Astronomical Unit, or AU, is refined.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, Sept. 17: NASA’s ferry flight of the retired shuttle orbiter Endeavour from Canaveral, Fla., to Los Angeles, Calif., is delayed by 24 hours — or until Tuesday — by a stormy weather outlook. The re-scheduling means a two-day rather than a three-day ferry flight to Los Angeles. Weather permitting, NASA will attempt low altitude fly-overs of NASA installations en route. Endeavour is scheduled to spend Tuesday night in Houston. The website offers updates. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/ferry/status105.html
A. From The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 16: A 24 hour delay in Endeavour’s Florida departure will cut the orbiter’s stay in Houston to one rather than two nights. http://www.chron.com/default/article/Shuttle-ferry-flight-delayed-due-to-weather-3870097.php
B. From The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 16: Once at the Los Angeles International Airport, Endeavour will follow a carefully choreographed course through the streets to the California Science Center, where it will go on permanent public display. Endeavour will remain at LAX until October. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-shuttle-transport-20120916,0,192167.story
2. From CBS News via Spaceflightnow.com, Sept. 16: NASA astronaut Joe Acaba and two Russian cosmonauts, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, descended safely to Earth late Sunday, following a 125 day mission to the International Space Station. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp32/landing.html
A. From Space.com: As U. S. and Russian astronauts departed the International Space Station for Earth late Sunday, command of the orbiting science lab transferred to NASA astronaut Sunita Williams. It’s only the second time a woman has been placed in charge. During her first voyage to the space station in 2007, Williams established a new endurance record for women space travelers, 195 days, that still stands. http://www.space.com/17624-female-astronaut-sunita-williams-commands-station.html
3. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Sept. 14: The White House Office of Management and Budget releases a required assessment of sequestration, a feature of the 2011 Budget Control Act that will set in motion a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction strategy on Jan. 2, 2013 — if Congress and the White House to not reach agreement on an alternative. NASA would face an 8.2 percent reduction in spending with the exception of the cross agency support line that involves operations of the agency’s field centers. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/white-house-report-on-sequestration-details-severe-impacts-on-nasa-noaa-and-dod
A. From the Huntsville Times, Sept. 15: Sequestration will claim more than $1.3 billion from NASA’s $17.7 billion budget. http://blog.al.com/space-news/2012/09/nasa_budget_faces_13b_budget_c.html
4. From USA Today, Sept. 14: Space travel will become as common as commercial air transportation over the next 30 years, predicts Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, the suborbital passenger service, predicts. http://beta.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/2012/09/14/air-travel-space/1567527/
5. From Space.com, Sept. 15: The 100-year Starship Symposium, which convened in Houston from Sept. 14-16, envisions a human expedition to another star within 100 years. Plans for the project, launched by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, include participation by a wide range of experts, including educators, artists and social scientists as well as engineers. http://www.space.com/17617-interstellar-spaceflight-100-year-starship.html
6. From The Washington Post, Sept. 14: A NASA graphic illustrates a warming trend in the Northern Hemisphere over the past decade. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/the-unmistakable-increase-in-northern-hemisphere-summer-temperatures/2012/09/14/819b3cc0-fe72-11e1-8adc-499661afe377_blog.html
7. From Space.com, Sept. 14: Astronomers working with an Arizona observatory find Jupiter class planets in a crowded cluster of sun-like stars, suggesting planets can flourish in diverse environments. http://www.space.com/17609-alien-planets-sun-like-stars-cluster.html
8. From MSNBC’s Cosmic Log, Sept. 14: NASA’s aging rover Odyssey finds tiny spherical structures in soil and rock on Mars, puzzling experts. A similar find involving iron rich spherical structures several years ago added evidence to the belief Mars was once a wetter realm. http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/14/13868790-spheres-spark-new-martian-mystery?lite
9. From Aviation Week, Sept. 13: NASA is looking at the first test flights of the new Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for opportunities to expand the test regime. Un-crewed flights are planned for 2014 and 2017, and the first piloted mission in 2021. http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_09_13_2012_p05-01-494215.xml&p=1
10. From Nature News.com, Sept. 14: Astronomers, meeting recently in Beijing, adjust the Astronomical Unit, a length of measure used to convey vast distances between objects in space. http://www.nature.com/news/the-astronomical-unit-gets-fixed-1.11416
11. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Sept. 16: A look at major space activities scheduled for the week ahead. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-september-17-21-2012-update
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