CSExtra – Thursday, March 21, 2013
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities under way across the globe. Experts differ on whether NASA’s distant Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system. The U. S. Senate and House now have candidate budget Continuing Resolutions that would avoid a government shutdown later this month by funding federal agencies through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, or until Oct. 1. Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos recovers most of two Saturn V first stage F-1 rocket engines for restoration. A human migration to a space colony is a generation or two away — if the transportation costs can be lowered, according to a key U. S. businessman involved in the effort. NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is on the verge of an anticipated communications loss as the sun comes between the Earth and Mars. Many in the U. S. lack an understanding of space technology to the U.S. economy and national security, a space policy analyst tells a U. S. Senate oversight panel. NASA tightens security around space technology following the detainment of a Chinese national. SpaceX points toward June for the inaugural flight of an ungraded rocket engine for the Falcon 9. Spring as imaged by a NOAA weather satellite.
1. From Discovery.com: NASA’s Voyager 1 probe, launched 35 years ago to flyby Jupiter and the other outer planets has reached a new milestone in its long exit from the solar system, a team of scientists claim. The slow exit was marked by a dramatic change in radiation levels noted by Voyager instrumentation on Aug. 25, say scientists.
A. From The New York Times: Voyager 1′s chief scientist disputes prospects Voyager 1 has fully exited the solar system.
B. From Time Magazine: Whether Voyager 1 has left the solar system or entered a new realm on the way to an exit is uncertain, according to the American Geophysical Union.
C. From The Orlando Sentinel: NASA’s well traveled Voyager 1 spacecraft and its NASA science team are to be commended for an 11.5 billion mile journey, whether the probe has departed the solar system or not, the Sentinel notes in an editorial.
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a budget Continuing Resolution effective through the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, or through Sept. 30. Agreement from the House and President Obama’s signature would prevent a March 27 shutdown by a budget less U. S. federal government. Both the House and Senate versions recognized the March 1 sequester.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com: As it confronts budget restrictions, NASA has three top program priorities, Administrator Charles Bolden tells a House appropriations panel with responsibility for the space agency. They are the James Webb Space Telescope; the Space Launch System and Orion; and the International Space Station, including support for commercial crew and cargo initiatives. The long running impact of sequestration could be devastating to all of NASA’s programs, Bolden tells the panel.
3. From The Economist: Blue Origin’s founder Jeff Bezos announces the ocean recovery of F-1 rocket engines from the Saturn V first stage rockets that started the Apollo astronauts on their way to the moon. Restorations and public display of the components from two F-1′s scooped from the Atlantic first stage drop zone are planned.
A. From Collectspace.com: Parts from two F-1s are raised from 14,000 feet below the Saturn V first stage drop zone in the Atlantic.
4. From The Atlantic Magazine: Within a generation or two, humans will begin to migrate from the Earth to a space colony — most likely on Mars, predicts Eric Anderson, whose company Space Adventures, has made it possible for the first tourists to travel as far as the International Space Station. Cost, not technology or engineering, will pace the movement, says Anderson.
5. From the Pasadena Star News, of California: Expect a short science run as NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover emerges from a second computer glitch this month. However, by April 4 communications with the rover will be interrupted as the sun moves between the Earth and Mars. Regular communications — and science activities — should resume in early May.
6. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The U. S. public wrestles with a lack of appreciation for the significance that space technology plays in the health of the U. S. economy and national security, Naval War College policy analyst Joan Johnson-Freese tells the U. S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel responsible for NASA oversight. The subcommittee hosted a second day of Congressional hearings on the threat to Earth posed by Near Earth Objects. More observations are needed to assess the threat, according to Johnson-Freese.
7. From Space News: NASA is tightening security around sensitive technologies, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden informs a U. S. House appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the space agency. Bolden’s testimony followed the detainment of a Chinese national employed as a contractor at NASA’s Langley Research Center over the weekend.
8. From Space News: SpaceX, the U. S. commercial launch services company, says it plans to introduce an upgraded version of Falcon 9 first stage engine with the June launch of a Canadian satellite.
9. From Space.com: NOAA’s GOES’ 13 weather satellite captures the transition from Winter to Spring in the northern hemisphere in a definitive photograph of the Earth on Wednesday.
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