CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, March 24, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA reaches out for new technologies to advance Asteroid Redirect Mission, reach for Mars. NASA uses F/A-18 jets to assess adaptive flight controls for the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, the propulsion source that will start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. Saturn’s moon Titan makes waves. The Milky Way revealed. Fascination with E.T. sustains. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey embraced by geekosphere. Florida space museum finds new home in historical district. NASA responds to International call for assistance in finding Malaysian jetliner debris. Space partners deal with U.S., Russian tensions over Ukraine. DARPA budget supports work on frequent flying reusable space plane for satellite deployments. NOAA seeks 2015 budget increase for its Earth observing satellite program. Russia launches Glonass navigation satellite. NASA optimistic about 2017 commercial human spaceflight capability to low Earth orbit. Next U.S. International Space Station cargo mission set for March 30. Ariane 5 places two communications satellites in orbit. A look at major space activities scheduled for the week ahead.
Human Deep Space Exploration
NASA (3/21): The space agency issues a Broad Area Announcement on Friday seeking proposals for concept studies in areas including asteroid capture systems, rendezvous sensors, adapting commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Mission and feasibility studies of potential future partnership opportunities for secondary payloads and the crewed mission. Using the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and Orion crew capsule, ARM would steer a small asteroid into a long term lunar orbit, where U.S. astronauts could visit.
NBCNews (3/21): NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission will assess technologies needed to reach Mars with humans. “We’re reaching out to seek new and innovative ideas as we extend the frontier of space exploration,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations
Spaceflightnow.com (3/21): NASA Broad Area Announcement for Asteroid Redirect Mission ideas includes $6 million in industry awards for technology refinements. Up to 25 companies could receive funding. NASA plans more elaboration during a March 26 Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum from Washington.
Florida Today (3/22): Congress approved $78 million in ARM mission studies in 2014. NASA is seeking $133 million in 2015. At this early stage, the mission’s potential cost and timing remain question marks, the newspaper reports.
Spaceflight Insider (3/23): NASA seeks proposals for capturing a small asteroid for study by U.S. astronauts. “An asteroid is not an easy thing to rendezvous with, given their rotation rates and tumbling vectors and so on,” says Greg Williams, a NASA deputy associate administrator for policy and plans. “We’re also interested in technologies associated with the sampling of material for such an object, which is a challenging thing to do.”
NASA via Red Orbit, (3/24): NASA uses F/A 18 jets to evaluate software for the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. The control software enables the rocket to respond to changes in the atmosphere as it climbs to orbit. The SLS will start future U.S. explorers on missions of deep space exploration. An early version of an adaptive control system was used on the last X-15 rocket plane that was built in the 1960s. Current testing is merging the expertise of engineers at the Armstrong Flight Research Center and Marshal Space Flight Center.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Los Angeles Times (3/21): NASA’s long running Cassini mission spots waves of ethane and methane lapping the lake shores on Titan, a large moon of Saturn with a nitrogen atmosphere and conditions similar to the early Earth.
Scientific American (3/22): NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provides an infrared look at the Milky Way, a feat that required a mosaic of photographs created over 172 days. Spitzer’s wave lengths afford a view that wipes away the vast amounts of obscuring dust.
Spaceflight Insider (3/23): From listening for signs of intelligent life from distant worlds to looking for alien worlds with space observatories, the search goes on.
Space.com (3/22): Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the reprise of Carl Sagan’s old Cosmos series, takes off on Fox and National Geographic, notes host and astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson. The reason: it appeals to a wide geekosphere. ”Even if there’s something [in the show] you don’t understand, you’re compelled to want to learn more,” says Tyson.
National Public Radio (3/23): Neil deGrasse Tyson embraces chief nerd title as host of Cosmos series reprise, while bringing inspiration to those under represented in the science fields.
Florida Today (3/22): U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum, a Titusville, Fla., tribute to spaceflight, heads for larger facilities in city’s historical district.
Low Earth Orbit
Universe Today (3/23): NASA searches data from Earth observing satellites, aims cameras on the International Space Station in efforts to find debris from missing Malaysian jetliner. Available data from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites has already been transmitted to the U.S. Geological Survey and new data are now being collected in the search area.
AFP via Discovery.com (3/22): Design of International Space Station requires cooperation among 15 nation partnership despite tensions on the ground — like those between the U.S and Russia over Ukraine, say astronauts and space policy experts. “It is like a divorced couple trying to live in the same house,” noted one. Three U.S. and Russian station crew members are set for launching from Kazakhstan late Tuesday.
Aviation Week & Space Technology (3/24): U.S. and Russian tensions over Ukraine could change but not stop production of the RD-180 rocket engine used by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V to place a range of U.S. satellites, including national security payloads into orbit. If the engines can no longer be imported from Russia, it would take five years and $1 billion to start domestic production, the publication reports.
Space News (3/21): Assessment shows rise in future Defense Advanced Research Project Agency budgets for high payoff projects, including the reusable frequent flying XS-1 Spaceplane for the delivery of payloads to low Earth orbit. DARPA is an agency of the Department of Defense.
Space News (3/21): U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeks $165 budget million increase for 2015. Most of the increase would support instrument spares for the Joint Polar Satellite System program, which is designed to provide global Earth observations from polar orbit
Voice of Russia (3/24): Soyuz launch carries Russian Glonass navigation system satellite into Earth orbit. Satellite launched from Plesetsk.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (3/21): Four U.S. companies partnered with NASA to establish transportation systems for astronauts to low Earth orbit are progressing toward operations in 2017, according to the space agency. They are Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX. Funding remains a challenge.
Florida Today (3/21): SpaceX confirms March 30 for launching of its third commercially contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station, SpaceX-3. Plans for March 16 lift off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., were delayed by contamination concerns.
Universe Today (3/22): SpaceX-3 cargo mission will include early recovery test for reusable first stage.
Spaceflightnow.com (3/22): Ariane 5 places European and Brazilian communications satellites into orbit on Saturday.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (3/23): Events include U.S. and Russian crew launch to the International Space Station, a NASA update of its Asteroid Redirect Mission concept, plus Congressional hearings on NASA budget.
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