CSExtra – Top Space News for Friday, December 20
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CSExtra will be on hiatus from Dec. 23 until January 2, 2014. We wish you all Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year.
Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Retiring influential U.S. congressman Frank Wolf urges White House to host conference on human lunar base. Wolf’s possible House successor on NASA appropriations matters vows more financial support for the space agency. In the U.S., one in three believe China’s successful unmanned moon landing as harmful to the nation. U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf and fellow lawmaker seek assessment of China’s moon mission on U.S. space leadership from the Director of National Intelligence. The NASA led James Webb Space Telescope, a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, marches toward a late 2018 lift off. Europe launches ambitious Gaia Milky Way star charting mission. Scientists improve estimates of alien planet mass, a factor in assessing habitability of distant worlds. NASA successfully re-activates the Near Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer, a spacecraft developed to detect asteroids that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. Saturn’s moon Titan awash in hydrocarbons. U.S. witnesses, participates in dynamic global year in space. United Launch Alliance receives NASA contract to launch 2016 Mars mission. NASA, Russia look to agreement on launching U.S. astronauts into late 2017 and beyond. U.S. astronauts to embark on holiday spacewalks for International Space Station repairs. Worker satisfaction at NOAA declines. Japanese robot speaks. Contract roster helps SpaceX win NASA agreement for commercial use of Kennedy Space Center launch pad.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/19): U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who announced his retirement from Congress this week, urges the White House to host a conference of a U.S. lunar base.
Houston Chronicle (12/19): U.S. Rep. John Culberson appears next in line to succeed the retiring Frank Wolf as chairman of the U.S. House appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA. ”NASA is going to be at the top of my list,” said Culberson. ”I am going to ensure that NASA gets the money they need to remain the global leader in space.”
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Rasmussen Reports (12/19): Telephone poll following China’s successful Chang’e-3 moon landing, shows 33 percent believe the milestone is harmful to the U.S., yet 45 percent see no impact.
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/19): Two U. S. lawmakers ask Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to assess U. S. leadership in space and over all national security in light of China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander mission. U. S. Rep. Frank Wolf, chairs the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee that funds NASA and NOAA, among other departments and agencies. U. S. Rep. Mike Rogers chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Strategic Forces with oversight of many U.S. national security space programs as well as ballistic missiles, strategic weapons and other programs.
AmericaSpace.com (12/19): One step at a time, NASA’s successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is advancing through assembly and testing ahead of a late 2018 lift off. The JWST will study the earliest period of star and star system formation in the universe.
Space News (12/19): Europe’s Gaia space observatory lifts off early Dec. 19 on five year mission to study a billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy — their history and origins.
Spaceflightnow.com (12/19): Europe launches the Gaia 3D Milky Way star mapping mission early Thursday.
Christian Science Monitor (12/19): Scientists improve their techniques for estimating the masses of alien planets, a key factor in habitability.
NASA (12/19): The search is on for asteroids that could pose a collision threat to the Earth or a possible destination for U.S. astronauts with the revived Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission.
Space.com (12/14): NASA’s latest powerful space observatory will seek out asteroids that could strike the Earth or become destinations for future U.S. human space explorers.
Discovery.com (12/19): Switched off in early 2011, NASA’s NEOWISE spacecraft, an infra-red space telescope, is reactivated to identify near Earth objects that could collide with the Earth as well as provide deep space destinations for future U.S. explorers.
Space.com (12/19): Saturn’s moon Titan home to massive amounts of liquid methane and ethane.
New Scientist (12/19): A dynamic year in space exploration begins with a destructive impact with a meteor above remote Russia. As the year ends, China becomes the third nation to soft land a spacecraft on the moon.
NASA (12/19): NASA looks to United Launch Alliance for the sendoff in 2016 of the Insight Mars mission. Insight is designed to land on Mars and study the red planet’s interior.
Low Earth Orbit
Interfax, of Russia (12/19): Roscosmos and NASA reach preliminary agreements on the Russian launch of U.S. astronauts on missions to the International Space Station, according to the news agency. The agreement overlaps the target date for new U.S. commercial space transportation providers to take on the launch responsibilities under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The space agency initiative has been struggling for funds to reach its target of 2017.
Wall Street Journal (12/19): Late year spacewalks to address cooling system problems on the International Space Station may signal a rise in maintenance costs and challenges for the 15-year-old, six person orbiting science laboratory.
Washington Post (12/19): An annual poll of U.S. federal worker satisfaction shows a downward trend at NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Budget constraints appear a factor in the decline. One lawmaker has introduced legislation that would move NOAA to the Department of the Interior.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Associated Press via Yahoo.com (12/19): Japan’s robot Kirobo trades comments with International Space Station astronaut Koichi Wakata. Kirobo is a joint project between advertising company Dentsu, automaker Toyota, and creator Tomotaka Takahashi at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology.
Florida Today (12/19): A roster of launch contracts helped SpaceX edge out Blue Origin for the commercial use of Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, according to a NASA statement. The space agency sought proposals from the private sector earlier this year to determine the future use of the former space shuttle launch complex.
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