CSExtra – Thursday, January 17, 2013
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA will share a key role in the early development of the Orion/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle with the European Space Agency. NASA partners with Bigelow Aerospace for a prototype inflatable module for the International Space Station. A software issue interrupts a robotic refueling mission underway outside the International Space Station this week. Researchers find even small variations in the solar cycle can influence the Earth’s climate in complex ways. Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of shuttle Columbia’s lift off on a mission that ended tragically.
1. From CBS News.com: The European Space Agency’s favorable track record as a partner on the International Space Station leads to a “critical path” role in the early development of NASA’s Orion/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle. Orion is in development by NASA to carry astronauts on future human missions of deep space exploration. ESA will provide the service module, the power and propulsion elements, for a 2017 un-piloted test flight and possibly the first crewed test flight in 2021.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The European Space Agency earns a place on the critical path of future U.S. deep space exploration plans.
B. From NASAspaceflight.com: ESA’s service module contribution to the early development of NASA’s Orion capsule may provide the opportunity for a European astronaut to join an early U. S. led deep space mission. The first piloted test flight of the Orion capsule with crew may loop around the moon in 2021.
2. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Bigelow Aerospace wins a $17.8 million contract to develop an inflatable module for the International Space Station, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. “This partnership agreement for the use of expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important progress in U.S. commercial space innovation,” Lori Garver, NASA’s Deputy Administrator, told those gathered in Las Vegas for the announcement.
A. From The New York Times: NASA’s partnership with Bigelow Aerospace may prompt other cost saving public/private ventures that could lower the cost of space travel. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is a pod like no other piece of the space station. The “folds like a shirt, inflate like a balloon” structure is made of bulletproof materials and support materials to keep it from bursting.
B. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: Inflatable modules may one day house astronauts on missions of deep space exploration.
C. From the Waco Tribune: Bigelow’s inflatable module will travel to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule in 2015.
3. From Space.com: A software issue this week interrupts a satellite robotic refueling exercise outside the International Space Station this week. The experiment, initiated Monday, is sponsored jointly by the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. The initiative is intended to develop a robotic capability to refuel aging satellites in orbit around the Earth.
4. From Space.com: Even small variations in the 11-year solar cycle can influence the Earth’s climate, say researchers.
5. Space.com: Ten years ago Wednesday, shuttle Columbia launched on its final mission. The lengthy research mission ended tragically for NASA’s oldest shuttle orbiter and a crew of seven astronauts on Feb. 1, 2003. The loss prompted plans to end the 30-year U. S. shuttle program.
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