CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, May 12, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA astronauts test suits, tools for asteroid exploration mission. Inspired by NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. Mars One: evidence of space crossroads? Atmospheric analysis next step in search for life on alien planets. A possible sibling star points to sun’s origins. Teachers fly for science. Orbital debris a major concern. Northrop Grumman Corp. looks to Central Florida for post-shuttle expansion, work on possible successor to the B-2. Engineers look to 3-D printers to fabricate rocket fuel tanks. International Space Station astronaut Rick Mastracchio participates in U Conn graduation ceremonies from Earth orbit. Small cut could have major consequences for FAA’s commercial space office, experts warn. Boeing looks to early 2017 for first unpiloted test flight of CST-100 capsule under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. A NASA down select to a single company represents the best option for overcoming Russia’s lock on crew launches to the International Space Station, explains aide to key House Appropriations Committee member. A look at major space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Sen (5/11): Working underwater at a training facility near the Johnson Space Center, NASA astronauts Stan Love and Steve Bowen evaluate hand tools and space suits in development for missions to a small asteroid.
NASA, flickr (5/10): Eric Gilligan’s expertise is the flight control system for the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket now in development to start U.S. astronauts on missions of deep space exploration. “I’ve always had in interest in NASA, and working on a fast-paced project like this that will actually fly and that will benefit SLS in the future is really cool,” says Gilligan, a young aerospace engineer.
SpaceFlightInsider.com Opinion (5/11): An assessment of the Dutch nonprofit’s vision for settling Mars with humans in the mid-2020s. “We may well be at a crossroads in history..” concludes this op ed by Collin Skocik.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
National Geographic (5/9): An accelerating search for planets similar to the Earth in orbit about distant stars is shifting to a search for life. Studies of their atmospheres could provide clues about biological processes that are under way.
Discovery.com (5/9): University of Texas Astronomers find new clues to sun’s origins.
Chicago Tribute 95/11): Teacher go airborne with NASA’s Sofia Boeing 747 based telescope observatory, then share their experiences with student to encourage learning in the fields of science, technology and mathematics.
Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (5/9): Testimony before U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Friday produces expert testimony that sounds an alarm over the accumulation of orbital debris and the threat it poses to humans and active spacecraft in low Earth orbit.
NBC News (5/9): “Beside launch and reentry, orbital debris poses the biggest threat to spaceflight,” George Zamka, an official with the Federal Aviation Administration, told the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on Friday. Zamka is a retired NASA shuttle astronaut.
Florida Today (5/8): Defense contractor Northrop Grumman looks to Melbourne, Fla., for expansion, a region whose skilled workforce was hit hard by the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011. Future activities could include work on a successor to the B-2 stealth bomber, say local officials, who count the prospect of 1,800 new jobs.
Space.com (5/6): Engineers used the latest in 3-D manufacturing techniques to produce fuel tank simulators. Prototypers at Red Eye develop the products for Lockheed Martin Space Systems. “This project is unique in two ways, it marks the first aerospace fuel tank simulation produced through additive manufacturing and it is one of the largest 3D printed parts ever built,” says Joel Smith, Red Eye’s strategic account manager.
Hartford Courant (5/10): NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio speaks to engineering students from his Alma mater, the University of Connecticut, during commencement ceremonies on Saturday. Mastracchio is wrapping up a six month stay aboard the International Space Station this week. “I probably have the best job on and off the planet,” he said.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Spacepolitics.com (5/9): Even a small cut could jeopardize the role of the FAA’s commercial space office. The turn from $16.6 million in 2014 to $16 million in 2015 could delay launches for a range of orbital and suborbital commercial missions.
Universe Today (5/9): Boeing’s CST-100 commercial crew vehicle could lift off with crew for the International Space Station by the end of the August 2017, reports Ferguson. The first unpiloted flight could come in January. Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX are currently under contract to NASA to develop an orbital crew transport service.
Spacepolitics.com (5/9): Key legislative aide explains House Appropriations Committee’s desire for NASA to select a single Commercial Crew Program provider later this year, rather than two. Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX are currently under contract to develop alternatives. The down select, as soon as August, would provide the most favorable financial situation to restore the U.S. human launch capability lost when the shuttle was retired in mid-2011.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com: U.S. House in recess, Senate in session. Soyuz descent with three U.S., Japanese and Russian crew. International Space Development Conference.
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