CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, April 21, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA, Boeing close to agreement on Space Launch System core stage development. Space Launch System addresses concerns raised by U.S. General Accountability Office. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, White House Science Adviser John Holdren outline steps from Asteroid Redirect Mission to Mars. Mars: suitable for plant growth? Key engineer in NASA’s Apollo strategy dies. NASA, U.S. military ties crucial for asteroid impact warnings. NASA’s most recent lunar mission draws to a close. The Hubble Space Telescope stares deep into the universe. Chinese experts stretch to revive Yutu lunar rover. NASA’s 10-year-old Opportunity Mars exploration rover gets a dusting off. Lyrid meteor shower competes with bright moon this week. NASA finds space for an urgent International Space Station spacewalk. Ukraine, Russia maintain aerospace ties despite tensions. Russia’s global astronaut ties intact, says new chief of cosmonaut training. SpaceX carries out company’s third International Space Station cargo delivery. German study assesses SpaceX, Orbital Sciences production models. Space solar power looks for low cost launch services. Arizona lawmakers consider space launch liability legislation. A look at major space related activities scheduled for the week ahead, including a Washington Mars summit.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Huntsville Times (4/18): NASA and Boeing close to agreement on production of Space Launch System core stage, according to the Marshall Space Flight Center program manager for the new heavy lift rocket. The SLS is development to start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. Deal would mean $2.8 billion for Boeing.
The Huntsville Times (4/17): U.S. General Accountability Office finds budget restrictions constraining development of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. The GAO’s concerns for the human heavy lift rocket include cost, schedule, use of shuttle heritage hardware in the new rocket, and the status of development contracts.
WAAY-TV, of Alabama (4/17): NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, a cornerstone of plans to send U.S. astronauts on future missions of deep space exploration, becomes a growing focus of new technology development at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Spacepolitics.com (4/18): White House Science advisor John Holdren and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden endorse the Asteroid Redirect Mission planning as beneficial for the future human exploration of Mars. The two officials addressed the NASA Advisory Council in Washington last week on the issue. ARM addresses President Obama’s directive to NASA in 2010 that the agency explore an asteroid with humans before 2025, then head for the Martian environs a decade later.
Discovery.com (4/20): Report looks at whether NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover is finding the kind of ingredients in the Martian soil and rock that can support plant growth. A study looked at factors, including soil nutrients, water and sunlight.
Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report (4/20): Houbolt argued for the lunar orbit rendezvous strategy in reaching the lunar surface with astronauts during NASA’s Apollo program. Houbolt, 95, died in a Maine nursing home of complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to his son-in-law.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (4/20): Asteroid collisions with the Earth may be more common than believed. Several experts say U.S. military sensors play a key role in detecting blasts rivaling the one that shook Chelyabinsk, Russia in February 2013. However, budget concerns may have slowed the release of recent data.
Hampton Roads Daily Press, of Virginia (4/18): Launched last September, NASA’s latest lunar mission, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer comes to an anticipated end late April 17 as it plummeted to the moon’s surface. The mission studied the composition of the moon’s tenuous atmosphere.
Discovery.com (4/18): Hubble stares out for 14 hours, observes galaxies 5 billion light years away.
South China Morning Post (4/18): After traveling 20 meters on the moon’s surface, China’s Yutu “Jade Rabbit” rover may have reached its limit because of mechanical problems. China’s Chang’e 3 lander reached the lunar surface in December. By late January, the rover was not functioning.
Sky and Telescope (4/18): Winds on Mars clear dust from the solar arrays of NASA’s 10-year-old Opportunity rover. The wind cleansing means the long running mission has the potential to continue its studies of the Martian surface.
USA Today (4/21): One of the oldest known meteor showers from the comet Thatcher appears this week. A bright moon could make viewing difficult.
Low Earth Orbit
Universe Today (4/21): NASA will thread an operational needle with a Nov. 23 spacewalk to replace a failed computer controller outside the International Space Station. Astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson will carry out the 2.5 hour spacewalk.
Space News (4/18): Ukraine’s aerospace industry finds business as usual despite tensions with Russia. Ukrainian companies export space hardware to the U.S., Europe and Brazil as well as Russia.
Ria Novosti, of Russia (4/18): The new chief of Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, the former cosmonaut Yuri Lonchakov, says his country will continue to cooperate in space with astronauts from U.S., Europe, Canada and Japan despite statements from NASA that some cooperation will be curtailed in response to tensions in Ukraine.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (4/20): SpaceX Dragon completes two day trip to the International Space Station early Sunday with the delivery of nearly 5,000 pounds of food, crew equipment and research gear.
Spacepolicyonline.com (4/14): SpaceX overcomes thruster issue with Dragon supply capsule in early stages of the company’s third commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station.
Spaceflightnow.com (4/19): SpaceX achieves milestone in its bid to develop a reusable rocket first stage. Following the launch of the company’s third re-supply mission to the International Space Station, the first stage re-entered the atmosphere, descended into the Atlantic with a controlled splashdown, according to SpaceX and telemetry gathered by an airplane equipped to monitor the activities. The company also launched a new vertical takeoff and landing test bed at a Central Texas test facility.
Space News (4/18): German study finds SpaceX, Orbital Sciences approaches to commercial resupply of the International Space Station different without a clear winning approach. Study could influence changes in Ariane rocket production.
Aviation Week & Space Technology (4/21): Space generated solar power has not lost its appeal to investors. Lower launch costs though remain a key goal, one that reusable rockets like those envisioned in Japan and launched by SpaceX in the U.S. could play a key role.
Capital Media Services, of Arizona (4/18): State lawmakers pursue changes in liability laws to encourage space adventure missions using high altitude balloons flown by World View.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (4/20): Major activities this week include the Human to Mars Summit 2014, in Washington.
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