CSExtra – Thursday, August 2, 2012
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Russia’s Progress 48 re-supply mission achieves an accelerated trip to the International Space Station. Soyuz crews may repeat the six hour fast track flight in the future. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden sees a future human Mars journey as an international venture. NASA picks Friday to name two to three companies for a third round of commercial crew space transport system development. Prolonged budget deliberations loom for most federal agencies, including NASA. The House, Senate and White House, agree, however, on a six month Continuing Resolution to keep the federal government in business through U. S. elections. The suspense over NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission approach to Mars early Monday continues to grow. NASA closes a $500 million pension shortfall for shuttle program workers.
1. From Space.com: Russia’s Progress 48 carries out the first expedited supply mission to the International Space Station, launching and docking within six hours. The linkup in orbit on Wednesday at 9:18 p.m., EDT, delivered nearly three tons of cargo to the six person orbital outpost. Russia is studying the possibility of compressing the usual two day Soyuz crew transport flight to six hours as well. http://www.space.com/16855-russian-space-station-cargo-ship-docking.html
2. From USA Today: In a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says a future human mission to Mars will be an international project. The U. S. wishes to be an inspirational leader in space for the global community, Bolden says. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-08-01/NASA-mars-rover/56656270/1
3. From Parabolic Arc: NASA says it will announce the winner of its third phase of commercial crew transportation systems development on Friday. Four companies are currently funded for the work, Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX. Two or three companies are expected to receive funding. ATK, Excalibur Almaz and United Launch Alliance are currently among unfunded NASA participants in the development effort.
4. From Spacepolicyonline.com: In what’s becoming an annual tradition, the U.S. House and Senate appear unlikely to come to an agreement on a federal budget for 2013 before the fiscal year begins Oct. 1. However, they have agreed along with the White House to a six month Continuing Resolution that would keep the federal government, including NASA, running through the November elections and until March 1, 2013. Essentially, the yet-to-be-elected next Congress will re-visit most, if not all, of the federal spending plans for the coming year.
5. From The Christian Science Monitor: NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover races toward a nail biter of an landing on Mars early Monday. The $2.5 billion mission holds risk and promise. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0801/Mars-rover-Scientists-target-huge-crater-in-the-search-for-signs-of-life-video
A. From Space.com: MSL/Curiosity rover landing represents high stakes for NASA. Signals affirming the outcome of the landing attempt should reach the Earth on Monday at 1:31 a.m, EDT. http://www.space.com/16847-mars-rover-curiosity-landing-high-stakes.html
B. From Space.com: NASA’s Curiosity rover: hand crafted for an alien terrain and environment. Ford’s Raptor pickup? Better suited for Earth. http://www.space.com/16849-mars-rover-curiosity-ford-raptor-truck.html
6. From Space News: NASA makes up for a $500 million shortfall in the pension fund of its space shuttle contractor, United Space Alliance. The final shuttle mission touched down in mid 2011, resulting in the layoffs of thousands of shuttle contract personnel. The pension shortfall was blamed on market declines.
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