CSExtra – Thursday, March 1, 2012
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Long term staffing of the International Space Station will require vigilance in the operation of environmental and life support systems, say experts. SpaceX, preparing for a late April launch of the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission to the space station, plans a countdown test Thursday. Some members of Congress urge the White House to ensure adequate NASA safety oversight in the development of commercial transportation systems that will carry astronauts to the space station. Scientists identify new challenges in the search for truly “Earth-like” planets around distant stars as well as a useful new tool for the quest. Mars and the Earth get close on Saturday.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: Experts envision an operational International Space Station through at least 2020, and possibly through 2028. The biggest challenge is likely the function of the environmental and life control systems, say engineers. The first pieces of the six person orbiting science laboratory reached orbit in 1998. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1202/29station/
2. From Florida Today: SpaceX is aiming for a late April launching of its Falcon 9/Dragon combination on the first U. S. commercial supply mission to the International Space Station. Thursday, SpaceX will carry out a countdown and fueling test. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120229/SPACE/120229008/SpaceX-Falcon-9-launch-pad-fuel-tests?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space
3. From Spacepolicyonline.com: U. S. Rep. Pete Olson, of Texas, and a half-dozen other House Republicans urge the White House to ensure NASA has adequate authority to impose safety standards on commercial spacecraft designed to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. The lawmakers also ask for help in expediting the purchase of additional seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to ensure a safe alternative. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/seven-house-republicans-call-on-white-house-to-ensure-safety-of-astronauts
4. From Discovery.com: New studies suggest the “Earth-like” exo-planets that NASA’s Kepler space telescope is searching for may not be very Earth-like after all. Much depends on the kind of stars they orbit. http://news.discovery.com/space/suspected-earthlike-planets-may-be-nothing-like-earth-120229.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
5. From Space.com: Scientists find a new technique that could be useful in identifying alien life. It involves an examination of the light reflected off the Earth and onto the moon. “Earthshine,” for instance reveals the presence of oxygen, ozone and other gases associated with biological activity. http://www.space.com/14712-earthshine-moon-light-alien-life.html
6. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: On Saturday, the Earth and Mars will arrive at their closest point from one another in 26 months. Several observatories plan to mark the occasion with web casts of the neighboring planet. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/eye-see-red-free-real-time-looks-at-mars
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