CSExtra – Top Space News for Friday, April 11, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden views upgrades to Mission Control to support the first unpiloted test flight of the Orion crew capsule, other ventures. NASA making strides toward future human missions to Mars with Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and Orion crew capsule. Top Russian official outlines plans for colonization of moon, Mars and distant solar system exploration. Astronomers spot evidence of extra solar moon circling alien planet. Former NASA astronaut committed to addressing asteroid threat. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory looks to Mars with a parachute alternative. NASA clears robotic asteroid sample retrieval mission for spacecraft assembly. Hubble Space Telescope’s optics and Mother Nature combine for more accuracy. Unraveling the fate of China’s lunar lander and Yutu rover. United Launch Services launches U.S. national security spacecraft. International Space Station robot, Robonaut 2, awaits re-supply mission with two mechanical legs. NASA’s spin offs. Sierra Nevada, Houston forge ties for Texas spaceport development. California close to new 10 year tax exemption for space enterprises. Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic, predicts 90 percent chance of suborbital passenger flights this year.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Galveston Daily News (4/10): NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tours upgrades to Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center in Houston on Thursday. Changes will permit the facility to support human deep space missions, including a test flight of the Orion crew capsule in late 2014, future launches of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket as well as commercial spacecraft headed for the International Space Station.
Space-Travel.com (4/11): Guidance system for NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket undergoing critical lab tests at ATK’s Utah avionics lab. Tests involve steering, guidance and booster separations for rocket developed to start humans on future U.S. missions of deep space exploration.
Voice of America (4/10): U.S. looks to themes from the Mercury and Gemini mission periods to make steady progress towards the human exploration of Mars, the NASA official in charge of human space flight tells a U.S. Senate panel. “There is real hardware in manufacture for the path to Mars,” William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, tells Senators of the agency’s latest building block approach.
Itar-Tass, of Russia (4/11): Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, outlines broad objectives for the country’s space program. They include an expanded presence in low Earth orbit, colonization of the moon, and exploration of Mars and other solar system objects.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Discovery.com (4/10): First alien planets, now NASA scientists point to evidence of alien moons circling planets beyond our solar system.
Wired.com (4/10): Ed Lu spent six months aboard International Space Station while at NASA. Today, he’s part of the B612 Foundation and a long running effort to make sure the Earth does not experience a disastrous collision with an asteroid
Los Angeles Times (4/10): That’s what NASA’s Low Density Supersonic Decelerator mission spacecraft looks like. But it could do away with huge parachutes that have played a long running role in landing spacecraft on Mars. Upcoming tests of the LDSD may offer an alternative for landing something really large on Mars.
Reuters (4/10): Lockheed Martin receives the okay from NASA to begin development of OSIRIS-Rex, a robotic mission to gather samples of the asteroid Bennu and return them to Earth for analysis. Scheduled for launching in 2016, OSIRIS-Rex cleared a critical design review earlier this week.
NASA (4/10): Hubble Space Telescope observations bring new accuracy to distance measurements for distant stars.
Planetary Society (4/10): Blogger Phil Stooke’s detective work on the fate of China’s Chang-e’3 lander and Yutu rover suggest the lander is functioning, while the rover may have stalled in late January. The saga is stitched together from news and status reports as well as interviews with planetary scientists. China’s lunar venture became a headline story with the mission launch and Dec. 14 landing.
Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflightnow.com (4/10): United Launch Services lofts U.S. national security satellite atop Atlas V from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.,
Space.com (4/10): The silent “seventh” member of the International Space Station crew, Robonaut 2, is near a milestone — legs launched on the next SpaceX resupply mission scheduled for lift off on Monday. R-2 arrived at the space station in 2011 as a two armed torso. Since, R-2 has stepped out, carefully learning a few maintenance tasks. Ultimately, R-2 may join a spacewalk.
Wired.com (4/10): Check what you like. It may have spun off from NASA, or NASA may have recognized a breakthrough early.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Houston Chronicle (4/10): Sierra Nevada, among a small number of U.S. aerospace companies partnered with NASA to develop commercial human low Earth orbit transportation services, partners with the Houston Airport System to help develop a spaceport at Ellington Airport.
Los Angeles Times (4/10): A measure granting 10 year property tax exemptions for tangible property related to space ventures in California will head to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature — if the state’s house and senate can agree on recent state senate amendments.
Albuquerque Journal (4/10): Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic, says he’s 90 percent sure his company, SpaceShipTwo, will be launching on suborbital passenger missions from Spaceport America by the end of this year and that he will be one of those on board. Branson’s remarks were reported initially by the Fusion TV network, the Journal reports.
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