CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, January 2
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Today’s CSExtra offers a post-holiday look at the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA’s Orion advances toward a key 2014 test flight. Restrictive budgets are forcing tough choices in U.S. space endeavors. Space among 2013′s amazing strides. New poll breaks down support in U.S. for space funding. Mars One narrows applicant pool. The moon’s hidden hazards for humans. Russia harbors big space ambitions, while facing tight budgets. India tempers statements of human lunar ambitions. Big 2014 happenings in space, astronomy. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters spots China’s Chang’e-3. On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rolls toward Mt. Sharp. Earth orbit teaching us much about the planet’s surface. NASA astronauts repair International Space Station thermal control system with holiday spacewalks. Russian cosmonauts struggle with space station camera installations. U.S. and Russia embrace in low Earth orbit. China to offer free use of its global navigation network. U.S. and India ponder cooperation in Earth observing venture. Russia launches military satellites. NASA faces crunch time over U.S. Commercial Crew Program future. Florida preps for environmental review of commercial Shiloh launch site. United Launch Alliance scores banner 2013. U.S. Air Force evaluates latest Falcon 9 for military launches. China launches first Bolivian communications satellite. Russian Proton launches civil communications satellite. A look at significant space events scheduled through Jan. 10.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (12/28): NASA points to the first unpiloted orbital test flight of the new Orion crew capsule in September. The two orbit flight will stress the heat shield and other systems as though they were returning to Earth from a deep space mission. The test capsule will be launch atop at Delta 4 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. If successful, an unpiloted test flight of Orion with NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket would follow in 2017.
The Washington Post (12/25): Restricted budgets are forcing some tough choices for NASA’s future planetary exploration plans. A mission for a more in depth look at the Jovian moon Europa may have to wait. Ongoing missions, like Cassini at Saturn, may not receive an extension. However, the James Webb Space Telescope is moving toward a late 2018 lift off after addressing cost overruns.
China’s moon landing is part of a new space race by emerging nations: While NASA wrestles with budget problems, dozens of countries are aiming to show the world their technological prowess in space exploration.
Los Angeles Times (12/26): China’s Chang’e-3 landing followed the launch of India’s Mars probe. In all 70 nations have some level of space activity. The report quotes Apollo 11 astronaut and author Buzz Aldrin, who characterizes the U.S. space effort as poorly led and underfunded.
Washington Post (12/30): Count the advancing space arena among the industrial transformations that gathered momentum in 2013, writes Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University among other positions, in an op-ed.
Spacepolitics.com (12/26): YouGov polling results on NASA funding reveal that about 39 percent of Americans overall believe NASA is funded at the right level, 23 percent believe too high, or much too high. The late November poll sought opinions from 1,170 people. More males than females believe the funding is too low. Those with the most formal education point to a budget that is too low.
Los Angeles Times (12/31): Mars One, the Dutch nonprofit, with its eye on a human Mars colony in 2025, reduces its applicant pool from more than 200,000 to 1,058. The call for applicants went out in April. In this first narrowing down of future Mars colonizers, the Mars One team focused on choosing people who were physically and mentally capable of becoming human ambassadors to Mars, Bas Lansdorp, co-founder of Mars One, said in a statement.
Christian Science Monitor (12/31): At Mars One, the selection process continues to find 25 men and women to colonize Mars. What type of people might these prospective explorers be? Think of the Olympic athlete. “In the Olympic Games, we see extraordinary people do extraordinarily difficult things,” says Bas Lansdorp, a foundation co-founder. “We’re looking for the same type of people. We’re looking for serious applicants who want nothing more than to go to Mars.”
Houston Chronicle (12/24): The moon is covered in a fine grit, as the Apollo astronauts learned over landed missions from 1969-72. The grit flowed into the spacecraft and the lungs of the astronauts. Though the U.S. is currently not headed back to the lunar surface, NASA engineers are at work on counter measures, including space suits that would remain outside rovers and habitats.
Thomson Reuters (12/26): Russia seeks a revival for a troubled space program. The formula includes more money, reforms and greater enthusiasm among Russia’s youngsters.
India Today (12/27): The Indian Space Research Organization and India’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) have signed a memorandum of understanding for a manned moon mission, the publication reports. The Indian Air Force will identify crew members.
The New Indian Express (1/1): The Indian Space Research Organization states that news reports of plans for human lunar missions misinterpreted a memorandum of understanding signed with the Institute of Aerospace Medicine. A human lunar mission is not imminent, says ISRO.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (12/31): Mars should be a busy place in the New Year, with U.S. and Indian orbiters expected to arrive in September. U.S. and Chinese rovers will carry on with activities on Mars and the moon. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency plans to place a lander on the surface of a comet for a trip around the sun. Space will be practically buzzing with human activities in 2014, the website reports.
Universe Today (12/26): Comets, meteor showers, a lunar eclipse, this list offers much more than the top 10.
Coalition for Space Exploration (12/30): NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the moon since 2009, photographs China’s recently landed Chang’e-3 spacecraft and the Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit” rover.
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/23): The Chinese rover was deployed from the Chang’e-3 rover on Dec. 15, a day after the landing. Beijing launched the mission Dec. 1.
Coalition for Space Exploration (12/28): Since its spectacular landing in August 2012, NASA’s nuclear powered Curiosity rover’s accomplishments have continued to grow. They include evidence that Mars could have sustained microbial life, surface radiation measurements that could be crucial to future human explorers; and evidence that natural erosion could reveal the building blocks of life.
Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflight Insider and Huffington Post (1/1): Activities in space often provide benefits in significant but seemingly subtle ways. Spaceflight Insider offers five examples, from spotting war crimes in the Central African Republic to mapping the world’s vegetation and opening affordable Internet broadband services with satellites.
Space News (12/27): NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins complete repairs to the International Space Station’s degraded thermal control system on Christmas Eve. The station’s Loop A cooling system was crippled Dec. 11 by a flow control valve failure. Mastracchio and Hopkins braved a small ammonia leak to complete the replacement of a new pump module with a functional flow control valve.
Space News (12/30): Spacewalking cosmonauts deal with a disappointing outcome during a Dec. 27 spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Two Earth-observing cameras owned by Canada’s UrtheCast Corp. failed to perform as expected after their installation outside the Zvezda module, prompting Russian cosmonauts to bring the hardware back inside the orbiting outpost while engineers on the ground work on a fix.
Politico (12/25): Despite disagreements over Syria and NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the U.S. and Russia seem firm over their cooperation in low Earth orbit. One expert, though, characterizes the relationship as reluctantly co-dependent.
Xinhuanet (12/28): China to make its Beidou global navigation satellite system accessible worldwide by 2020.
Space News (12/31): NASA is looking to a collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organization for future Earth science missions in a budget restricted environment. The prospects include L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radars to observe a variety of phenomena, including changes in global vegetation, wetlands, coastlines and soil moisture. If the project proceeds, it would be the first satellite built jointly by NASA and ISRO, NASA spokesman Stephen Cole said.
Ria Novosti, of Russia (12/25): The nature of their missions was not disclosed. The satellites were launched from Plesetsk.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Houston Chronicle (12/25): NASA’s strategy to foster commercial launch services for astronauts and others headed to the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations faces a funding challenge. Three participants, Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada will complete for two and perhaps one opportunity to complete development with NASA funds in 2014. “We’d like to have two,” said Kathy Lueders, acting program manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It’s dependent upon on the budget.” NASA would like to initiate commercial passenger launches by 2017. It now pays Russia about $70 million per astronaut for the service.
Orlando Sentinel (12/26): Federal and state agencies ready to look at Space Florida plans to establish a commercial launch site on the environmentally sensitive fringes of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Spaceflightnow.com (12/31): 2013 included 11 launches for the U.S. joint venture between the Boeing Co. and the Lockheed Martin Corp., and featuring the Delta 4 and Atlas 5 launchers.
Space News (12/23): U.S. Air Force weighing SpaceX Falcon 9 performance to determine the company’s qualifications to launch U.S. national security payloads.
Spaceflightnow.com (12/20): China launches Bolivia’s first communications satellite.
Spaceflightnow.com (12/26): Russian Proton rocket launches civil communications satellite from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (1/1): Activities include scheduled launches, conferences and Congress reconvenes.
Brought to you by the Coalition for Space Exploration, CSExtra is a daily compilation of space industry news selected from hundreds of online media resources. The Coalition is not the author or reporter of any of the stories appearing in CSExtra and does not control and is not responsible for the content of any of these stories. The content available through CSExtra contains links to other websites and domains which are wholly independent of the Coalition, and the Coalition makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information contained in any such site or domain and does not pre-screen or approve any content. The Coalition does not endorse or receive any type of compensation from the included media outlets and is not responsible or liable in any way for any content of CSExtra or for any loss, damage or injury incurred as a result of any content appearing in CSExtra. For information on the Coalition, visit www.spacecoalition.com or contact us via e-mail at [email protected].