CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, April 14, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA readies engines for Space Launch System core stage for ground testing. Cost of Space Launch System launch debated. Experts differ over moon’s role in future human deep space missions. NASA’s Orion crew exploration module passes avionics testing. NASA explores technologies for Mars landing. Reflections on America’s moon missions. In Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin urges scientists to take risks from asteroid impacts seriously. Lunar eclipse coming early Tuesday. Might Pluto host Earth-like qualities? Extended Cassini mission at Saturn: worthy of a new name? SpaceX readies cargo mission to the International Space Station. NASA prepares space station spacewalk repair. Saturday marked 53rd anniversary of first human spaceflight. U.S., Russia forge ahead with space cooperation despite tensions over Ukraine. U.S. Commerce secretary outlines concerns over weather satellite gap. European Space Agency reveals drama linked to space debris and launch of Earth observing satellite. U.S. Commercial Crew Program grows in significance. Editorial examines Houston spaceport. XCOR looks to 2015 for West Texas suborbital flights. Major space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
Human Deep Space Exploration
NASA (4/11): NASA prepares to test fire former space shuttle engines on Stennis Space Center test stands. The RS-25 will power the core stage of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket that will start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. Test flights of the SLS are planned for 2017, 2021.
The Examiner.com (4/13): The mission cost for NASA’s Space Launch System, envisioned as the propulsion source that will start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration, varies greatly, based on who offers the estimate.
Space News (4/11): The moon may not be on NASA’s critical path to the human exploration of Mars, but others in the U.S. and Europe believe the lunar surface has much to teach us before explorers reach for the red planet. The middle ground — forays to near Earth asteroids and lunar orbit that is favored by NASA — remains a grey zone for policy makers.
Sen.com (4/12): NASA’s Orion crew capsule will undergo vibration testing following a demanding evaluation of the capsule’s avionics. The spacecraft is headed toward an unpiloted test launch in December that will exercise the heat shielding and other systems after two orbits of the Earth.
Coalition for Space Exploration (4/11): At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, engineers are at work on inflatable systems to navigate the Martian atmosphere. The work may pave the way for the staging of a future human habitat.
Spaceflight Insider (4/13): “For a brief period in our history, the Moon landings proved to the world that we, not just the United States, but we, the human race, were capable of anything. If we could land on the Moon, maybe we could end war, cure cancer, even conquer death and colonize the universe.”
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Voice of Russia (4/12): Russian Deputy Prime Minister Demitry Rogozan urges his countrymen to take seriously the threat posed by near Earth objects. The country’s best minds are needed to devise defenses, says Rogozan.
Scientific American (4/12): Early Tuesday should bring sky watchers a pair of events — a full lunar eclipse and a redder, larger Mars as the red planet and the Earth make their closest approach.
Star Date (4/11): Early Tuesday, the Earth’s shadow will begin to fall across the full moon. The eclipse will be visible in much of the Western Hemisphere — where skies are clear.
Discovery.com (4/12): Experts offer evidence that distant Pluto may host an ocean, and plate tectonics — Earth-like characteristics.
NASA (4/12): The U.S. Cassini Saturn probe is nearing its 10th anniversary around the ringed planet. NASA is seeking help with a suitable name for an extended mission that would permit a closer look at the moon Enceladus. Recently scientists announced evidence of a large body of water on Enceladus.
Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflightnow.com and CBS News (4/13): On Sunday, NASA and SpaceX announce efforts to proceed with the launch Monday of a third SpaceX re-supply mission to the six person International Space Station. The mission will proceed despite a failed external computer on the station’s solar power truss. ISS astronauts will prepare for a spacewalk to install a replacement on April 22. Monday’s lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is set for 4:48 a.m., EDT.
Russia Today (4/12): U.S. astronauts look at possible spacewalk to replace an external International Space Station electronics box that plays a role in robotics activities associated with an upcoming U.S. commercial SpaceX resupply mission.
Spaceflight Insider (4/12): Saturday marked the 53rd anniversary of the first human spaceflight, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s single orbit of the Earth in 1961. The flight triggered a space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The Washington Post (4/11): Despite differences over Russian activities in Crimea and the Ukraine, the United States is unlikely to sever ties in space as long Soyuz rockets provide the only means of reaching the International Space Station with astronauts and returning them to Earth.
Spacepolitics.com (4/11): What’s affected by a Russian space ban announced by the U.S. earlier this month? Very little, the Washington website concludes.
Space News (4/11): U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker expressed concerns over a weather satellite gap in testimony before the House and Senate last week. She attributed her concerns to budget difficulties and delays in spacecraft already in development. NOAA, part of the Commerce Department, operates geostationary weather satellites for continental coverage and polar orbiters for global coverage.
Spaceflightnow.com (4/11): The European Space Agency details drama surrounding the early mission of the Sentinel-1A satellite on April 3, as ground controllers worked to dodge an uncontrolled satellite.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
NASAspaceflight.com (4/11): NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, initiated four years ago as the retirement of NASA’s shuttle flight neared, has taken on new significance as tensions between the U.S. and Russia grow over Ukraine. The NASA initiative offers the U.S. its best opportunity to restore a domestic human launch capability.
Houston Chronicle (4/12): In an editorial, the newspaper praises efforts to establish a space port at Houston’s Ellington Airport near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. However, it questions whether there is enough business to support the investment. The editorial follows an announcement from Sierra Nevada of plans to land its Dream Chaser seven person spacecraft at Ellington — if the company wins a NASA contract to launch astronauts to the space station.
KOSA-TV, Odessa, Texas (4/14): XCOR looks to twice weekly suborbital flights from the Midland, Texas airport in 2015.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (4/13): A summary of the major space events scheduled for the week ahead.
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