CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, September 23
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest news and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Orbital Sciences Corp, NASA address data exchange issue to set up Cygnus rendezvous with the International Space Station early Tuesday rather than Sunday. Space exploration promises future Earthly benefits, the 14 agency International Space Exploration Coordination Group reports. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden goes on Asian swing to advance cooperative exploration agenda. Faster propulsion, better radiation shielding required for Mars exploration, say experts. Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne test the thrusters on the CST-100. Long running U. S. Deep Impact comet mission draws to a close after 4.7 billion miles, a half million images. Protective sun shade for James Webb Space Telescope comes together. Hollywood’s science fiction renaissance missing NASA’s real science breakthroughs. NASA spending large on unused infrastructure, while policy makers debate future mission goals, auditors tell House Science Committee. U. S. Air Force ponders changes to U. S. Global Positioning Satellite system network. China launches a weather satellite. Russia looks to late September for Proton return to flight. SpaceX ponders multi-user Launch Complex 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, Sept. 22: NASA and Orbital Sciences Corp. call early Sunday for a 48 hour delay in the final stages of a scheduled rendezvous of the Cygnus commercial re-supply capsule with the International Space Station. Cygnus was launched Wednesday on a NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems demonstration mission.
A. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post, Sept. 22: Data link issue delays Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft rendezvous with the International Space Station by two days.
2. From The Coalition for Space Exploration, Sept. 21: The International Space Exploration Coordination Group, a collection of 14 global space agencies, on Friday presented a 21 page white paper on the benefits of future space exploration that range from advances in STEM education and new technologies to the economy and social and cultural outlook.
A. From NASA, Sept. 20: White paper developed by 14 global space agencies tracks advances from the world’s first half century of space exploration and extrapolates on the benefits of a future push into deep space. While Mars is the common future destination, the pathway includes the moon and the asteroids.
3. From NASA, Sept. 20: In a blog, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks of an Asian trip that will take him to Beijing for a meeting of the International Astronautical Congress this week. ”This annual gathering of space agency leaders from around the world gives NASA a unique opportunity to strengthen global partnerships, discuss issues facing the world community and enlist support for some key United States objectives, including NASA’s asteroid initiative,” he writes. The work of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group and the Global Exploration Roadmap will be a focus. The Asian trip included a stop in Japan to discuss continued collaboration in space.
4. From Florida Today, Sept. 22: Mars mission currently too risky for humans, Florida Today reports, citing radiation and other potential hazards raised by NASA’s astronauts and science experts. Risks could be lowered with technologies that afford faster travel times and effective shielding. Women face a higher cancer risk from solar energetic protons and cosmic radiation exposures beyond the Earth’s magnetic field.
A. From The Washington Post, Sept. 22: Last week, scientists announced NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover was unable to detect significant levels of methane in the Martian atmosphere. A presence would have been an indication of underground microbial activity. It’s not the first time signs of life on Mars have come and gone. If disappointed, experts are not prepared to give up as they look across the solar system.
5. From TG Daily, Sept. 23: Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne test the thrusters on the CST-100. Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft is one step closer to liftoff after a gauntlet of test firings of its steering jets at White Sands Harbor in Las Cruces, N.M. Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed the tests, which simulated the demanding environment of space. The test assessed how the thrusters – which fire with 1,500 pounds of force, will speed up, slow down and move the spacecraft.
6. From AmericaSpace.com, Sept. 21: NASA’s long running Deep Impact comet mission ends. The probe was launched in January 2005 on an unprecedented mission to make close-up observations as a spacecraft impactor slammed into the comet Tempel 1. The voyage was extended for additional comet observations. Loss of contact with the spacecraft in August prompted unsuccessful efforts to re-establish communications.
A. From The Los Angeles Times, Sept. 20: Deep Impact’s latest mission was to study comet ISON. The spacecraft’s contributions includes studies of comets Garradd and Hartley 2. Deep Impact imagery also revealed a water presence on the Earth’s moon.
B. From NASA, Sept. 20: Deep Impact eclipsed its modest stature with accomplishment, transmitting a half million images over a nine-year 4.7 billion mile journey.
7. From The Coalition for Space Exploration, Sept. 20: Contractor Northrop Grumman completes production of the sun shade that will protect the James Webb Space Telescope from temperature extremes. The James Webb, the designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is undergoing preparations for an October 2018 lift off.
8. From The Huffington Post, Sept. 21: NASA is brimming with discovery, whether it’s from the Curiosity rover, the Hubble Space Telescope or the distant Voyager 1 spacecraft. Meanwhile, Hollywood is in the midst of a science fiction renaissance, yet new films are not reflecting actual science, notes Govindini Murty in an op-ed. ”At a time when audiences are increasingly jaded by computer special effects, there’s something fresh and engaging about a sci-fi movie that might actually have some basis in reality,” she writes. “Isn’t it time that we see more sci-fi films that explore the real mysteries of the universe all around us?”
9. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Sept. 20: Lawmakers find difficulty assessing NASA’s future infrastructure needs during a House Science Committee hearing Friday. Difficulties linked to future of NASA’s proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission as demonstration of capabilities for future mission to Mars.
A. From Florida Today, Sept. 20: NASA spending millions on unused infrastructure, the agency’s inspector general testifies before the House Science Committee on Friday. Some was built to support the Bush Administration’s now cancelled Constellation lunar exploration initiative.
10. From Space News, Sept. 20: U. S. Air Force considers changes to the Global Positioning Satellite System that could “save billions” over time. Changes could carry system risk, however.
11: From Xinhuanet, of China, Sept. 23: China launches a polar orbiting weather satellite, the Fengyun 3C, late Sunday.
12. From Space News, Sept. 20: Russia aims for a Sept. 30 return to flight for its Proton rocket. The most recent launch, in early July, resulted in a spectacular explosion that was traced to a ground handling error.
13. From Spacepolitics.com, Sept. 20: SpaceX indicates it can accommodate multi-users if awarded use of Launch Complex 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The space agency is weighing a proposal from Blue Origin as well for future commercial use of the shuttle launch pad. SpaceX included single user strategy in its proposal, Blue Origin a multi-user approach. The issue arose Friday at a House Science Committee hearing on NASA infrastructure.
14. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Sept. 22: A look at space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
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