CSExtra – Top Space News for Friday, May 2, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Powerful chair of U.S. Senate appropriations panel disappointed with NASA’s 2015 budget proposal. Space Launch System moves forward at reduced confidence level. Public picks “retro” style for new space suit. Curiosity rover drills on Mars. Space buffs team to revive inactive satellite for possible comet encounter. Astronomers look on as black hole eats star. Robots unpack space station cargo. U.S. Court of Federal Appeals halts U.S. purchases of Russian rocket engines over Ukraine tensions. Proposed legislation would start build of U.S. alternative to imported Russian rocket engines.
NASA’s 2015 Budget
Spacepolitics.com (5/1): During a hearing Thursday on NASA’s proposed 2015 budget, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, of Maryland, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed frustration over space spending priorities. She listed declines for the development of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, Orion crew exploration capsule and a host of science programs administered by the Goddard Space Flight Center in her home state.
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/1): First launch of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket could slip to FY2018, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden tells a Senate Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee hearing on the space agency’s 2015 budget. NASA is now developing the large rocket that would start astronauts on future missions of deep space exploration at a 70 percent joint confidence level because of tight budgeting, Bolden told the panel.
Huntsville Times (5/1): U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, vice chair of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, criticizes NASA for underfunding the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, while spending “billions” to develop commercial rockets with little government oversight. NASA’s SLS will start human explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. The agency’s Commercial Crew Program is intended to launch astronauts on orbital missions.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (5/1): Space agency designers turn to public for direction in development efforts for futuristic space suit.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Coalition for Space Exploration (5/1): NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover drills into rock for a third time on Mars. Past excavations revealed evidence for past habitable conditions on the red planet.
Discovery.com (5/1): Curiosity Mars rover begins to drill into Martian rock for only the third time since reaching the red planet in August 2012. Images show the rover’s final destination, Mount Sharp, in the background.
Orlando Sentinel (5/1): Jimmy Carter was president when NASA’s space weather probe ISEE-3 was launched. The spacecraft, inactive since 1997, may get a second wind thanks to the efforts of a handful of space buffs who would like to revive it. “This is something that has never been done before,” said a senior member of the group, whose ages range from 23 to 81. Success could mean a chance at a comet encounter in 2018.
Wired.com (5/1): Astronomers observe as dying star falls into black hole. Circularly polarized light is relatively rare and astronomers did not think that gamma-ray bursts were likely to produce it.
Low Earth Orbit
NASA (5/1): Space Station robot arms off load experiments from the recently arrived SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule that berthed April 20. One of the items, the HDEF collection of high definition video cameras, begins to transmit images of the Earth.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflightnow.com (5/1): U.S. Court of Federal Appeals enjoins United Launch Alliance temporarily from purchasing Russian rocket engines for the Atlas 5 in response to a complaint lodged by SpaceX over a U.S. government contract award. SpaceX alleges the engine purchases violate U.S. sanctions imposed in the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Russia Today (5/1): In the U.S., Washington may find it difficult to deal with the absence of Russian rocket engines, say Russian officials. The RD-180 is used to launch U.S. national security missions as well as science payloads. “We don’t have a great solution,” says one U.S. defense official.
Spaceflightnow.com (5/1): Legislation in the U.S. House would direct the Pentagon to spend $220 million to initiate development of an alternative to Russia’s RD-180 rocket engine for the Atlas 5. New rocket engine would be ready by 2019.
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