CSExtra – Thursday, March 8, 2012
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting on space related activities from around the world. In Washington, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden testifies before Congress on the agency’s proposed 2013 budget. The topics include future human deep space exploration, commercial crew transportation services and NASA computer security. More solar storms head toward the Earth, possibly disrupting satellite operations and passenger air travel. NASA adjusts the orbit of two Mars probes as part of its Mars Science Laboratory landing strategy. Film director James Cameron prepares for an ocean descent, while Red Bull adventurer Felix Baumgartner begins his assault on a record parachute leap. A look around orbiter Endeavour.
1. From Space News: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden attempts to reassure a U. S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday that additional funds for the Space Launch System and Orion/Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle would not accelerate plans for an initial unpiloted test flight of the combination in 2017. The scheduling depends on coordinated investments in both propulsion and crew elements as well as upgrades of Florida launch facilities; Bolden informs the panel’s hearing on NASA’s proposed 2013 budget. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120307-bolden-hutchison-commercial-orion-funding.html
A. From the Houston Chronicle: NASA is investing in Commercial Crew Development at the expense of the Space Launch System and Orion, according to U. S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, of Texas, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s ranking Republican. The SLS and Orion are the foundation of NASA’s future human deep space exploration strategy. Commercial crew funding is intended to foster the efforts of at least two companies to offer transportation for astronauts to and from the International Space Station by 2017. http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2012/03/sen-hutchison-challenges-nasa-spending-on-commercial-spacecraft/.
B. From the Orlando Sentinel: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden assures the Senate panel that the International Space Station is secure from computer hackers. However, U. S. Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida, challenges the adequacy of NASA’s protection policies. The questioning followed Congressional testimony last week from NASA’s inspector general on computer intrusions and incidents involving the loss or theft of NASA computers with space station software. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-lost-space-station-codes-20120307,0,7334391.story
2. From USA Today: The sun erupted late Tuesday, sending a powerful Coronal Mass Ejection toward a glancing blow with the Earth early Thursday. The most powerful solar storm in five years threatens to disrupt satellite and airline operations, and perhaps terrestrial power grids. Communications and Global Positioning Satellite System spacecraft are vulnerable. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-03-07/solar-storm-earth-power-disruptions/53398390/1
A. From the Los Angeles Times: The approaching solar storm is expected to intensify the already active Northern Lights. The display should be visible in the northern U. S. http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-solar-storm-20120307,0,1292439.story
B. From the Washington Post: The latest round of intense solar activity began with eruptions on Sunday. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/solar-storms-ramp-up-take-aim-at-earth/2012/03/07/gIQAjodsxR_story.html
3. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA alters the orbits of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey to prepare for the arrival of the Mars Science Laboratory. MSL, which carries the Curiosity rover, is on a trajectory to land on Mars on Aug. 6. The orbital changes are intended to assure a line of sight communications link with Earth during the dynamic touchdown. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1203/06marsorbiters/
A. From U. S. News and World Report: Goddard Space Flight Center astrobiologist Jennifer Eigenbrodt is among those holding their breath until MSL reaches Mars. The planet appears to host all of the ingredients necessary for microbial life. The question is whether they all came together. MSL, a mobile chemistry lab, will attempt to assess just how habitable the red planet really is. http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/at-the-edge/2012/03/07/scientists-lifes-work-to-search-for-it-aboard-mars-rover
4. From the New York Times: Noted film director James Cameron, a space enthusiast, prepares for a seven mile descent into the Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific aboard a personal submersible built for him in Australia. Cameron, who directed Avatar and Titanic among other successful films, is drawn by the lure of the unexplored. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/08/science/earth/james-cameron-prepares-to-dive-into-mariana-trench.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=NASA&st=cs
5. From USA Today: The newspaper checks in on Australian Felix Baumgartner, who plans to parachute to Earth from a record altitude of 120,000 feet later this year, as part of the Red Bull Stratos project. The big leap will follow a series of test jumps, the first set for Monday from 60,000 feet near Roswell, N. M. http://www.usatoday.com/life/lifestyle/story/2012-03-07/Skydiving-Felix-Baumgartner/53405566/1
6. From CNN: A video tour of shuttle orbiter Endeavour at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The winged space ship is undergoing preparations for its permanent display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2012/03/07/nr-lok-zarrella-inside-endeavor-shuttle.cnn
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