CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Major NASA programs, including the Space Launch System, Orion and the James Webb Space Telescope, prevail in U.S. 2014 Omnibus appropriations measure. Omnibus spending bill passes U.S. House on Wednesday, heads for Senate. China ponders human lunar activities. Plans for unpiloted 2017 Orion/SLS test flight adjust to key European Space Agency contributions. Surgery on Mars. Omnibus appropriations measure includes funds for 2020 Mars rover. NASA invites public to submit names for asteroid mission probe. Astronomers spot solar twin with multiple planets. European Gaia mission reaches vantage point for mega star study. Martian moon Phobos could be a captured asteroid. Advocates point to metal asteroid as valuable destination. Should NASA’s Ames Research Center be renamed for Sally Ride. Observatory outside the International Space Station studies most powerful cosmic events. NASA launches three suborbital rockets for the Pentagon.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Aviation Week & Space Technology (1/14): The 2014 U.S. Omnibus Appropriations bill making its way through the House and Senate this week, begins to lift NASA from the restrictions of sequestration. The legislation provides $17.6 billion, a $781 million increase over the sequestration level of the previous year. The heavy-lift Space Launch System, Orion crew vehicle and James Webb Space Telescope are funded at levels that could prevent serious disruption. The Commercial Crew Program receives a record allocation, though possibly not enough to begin flights in 2017.
The Hill (1/15): The U.S. House passes $1.1 trillion 2014 omnibus appropriations measure late Thursday by a wide margin. Now headed for the U.S. Senate and then the White House, the bill includes $17.65 billion for NASA, or $70 million less than the White House request for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Associated Press via Houston Chronicle (1/16): The U.S. Senate may take up 2014 Omnibus appropriations bill as soon as Thursday. Passage anticipated.
Universe Today (1/15): “Right now China is actively at work on the critical technology required to conduct a manned landing on the Moon, perhaps by the mid-2020′s or later, and scoping out what it would accomplish,” the website reports, drawing on comments from Chinese officials in the People’s Daily and other forums.
Spaceflightnow.com (1/15): NASA is looking at late 2017 for an unpiloted test flight of the Orion capsule atop NASA’s Space Launch System. The payload would include a service module for Orion developed by the European Space Agency. The preliminary design review for the SM is now on track for May after a six-month delay to contend with weight issues, according to Thomas Reiter, director of the European Space Agency’s human spaceflight and operations programs.
Space.com (1/15): Isolated in the Utah desert, a science team is simulating the challenges of a long duration Mars mission, including one of the most challenging aspects of health care, anesthesia and surgery. Reporter Elizabeth Howell is among those participating in the exercise at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Los Angeles Times (1/15): $1.1 trillion 2014 Omnibus appropriations measure is making its way through Congress this week, with $65 million to start the 2020 Mars rover mission. The rover, a twin of Curiosity, would gather and cache samples of Martian soil and rock for eventual return to Earth.
NASA (1/15): The space agency calls on the public for names to accompany the 2016 OSIRIS-REx probe to the asteroid Bennu. The robotic spacecraft is to obtain samples of the asteroid and return them to Earth.
Science News (1/15): Astronomers spot a solar twin with three planets, one them circling its star like the Earth orbits the sun, a first.
Spaceflightnow.com (1/14): The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission reaches its distant observation point. Launched Dec. 19, GAIA was developed to observe a billion stars. The studies should shed new light on the evolution of the Milky Way.
Space.com (1/15): Mars hosts two moons, Phobos and Deimos. No more than six miles across, Phobos may be an asteroid captured by the gravity of the red planet.
Space.com (1/15): Astronomers look to strange space object, which appears to be an asteroid with an exposed iron core, as a possible mission destination. An up close look may help explain how the solar system evolved.
Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (1/15): In an op-ed, Robert Pearlman of Collectspace.com makes a case for a switch in names at Ames. Lawmakers did as much at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center to honor the late Apollo 11 commander and test pilot Neil Armstrong.
NASA (1/15): Powerful events in the universe are under observation by the All-sky X-ray Image investigation attached to the outside of the International Space Station’s Japanese laboratory module. Studies are shedding light on the life cycle of the universe.
The Associated Press (1/15): NASA launches three suborbital rockets for the Department of Defense in the predawn of Wednesday from Wallops Island, Va.
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