CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, May 8, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Today, the House Appropriations Committee considers a 2015 spending measure for NASA that constraints work on hardware for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, while boosting funds for commercial crew. NASA’s planetary sciences budget set to rise in 2015. Stennis Space Center test stand undergoes “cold shock” in preparation for Space Launch System engine test firings. Draft Russian plan would establish a moon base with cosmonauts by 2030. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter provides stunning photo of the Earth. Astronomers squeeze burgeoning universe into computer model. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Telescope changes thinking about star birth. U.S. Court of Federal Claims to host hearing Thursday in SpaceX, U.S. Air Force dispute over major rocket buy. Air Force general defends contract with United Launch Alliance on national security grounds. Former X-15 pilot Bill Dana dies.
NASA 2015 Budget
Space News (5/7): House Appropriations Committee prepared to vote on a $17.9 budget proposal for NASA on Thursday. Measure would prevent NASA from spending on Asteroid Retrieval Mission related technologies unless they can be used to reach the Earth’s moon, the moons of Mars and Mars. The pending legislation also includes $785 million for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the most ever — but still less than the $848 million requested.
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/7): House Appropriations Committee would constrain NASA spending on the Asteroid Retrieval Mission, though a panel report on the strategy does not include specific figures. Measure would also require an independent assessment of the Inspiration Mars proposed 2021 Mars flyby mission with astronauts, something NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has questioned.
The Planetary Society (5/7): The House is poised to provide NASA with $1.45 billion for Planetary Science in fiscal year 2015, a $105 boost over last year and $170 million above the 2015 White House budget request. “This gets us to within spitting distance of The Planetary Society’s recommended minimum of $1.5 billion per year for a healthy program,” writes the Planetary Society.
Spacepolitics.com (5/7): A report available Wednesday provides details of the 2015 NASA budget measure that will be considered by the House Appropriations Committee this morning.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Spaceflight Insider (5/7): A crucial test stand for NASA Space Launch System engine testing at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi clears ‘cold shock’ testing in preparation for upcoming engine firings. The plumbing must withstand the minus 300 and 400 degree temperatures of liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants.
Itar-Tass, of Russia (5/8): Plan draft from Roscosmos and statements from Deputy Prime Minister Dimitry Rogozin reveal plans to begin colonizing the moon with cosmonauts in 2030. “The Moon is a first step on the way to the deep space,” chief scientific fellow of the Institute of Space Policy Ivan Moiseyev said. Russia is open to commercial participation in its goal of establishing a permanent base, according to the report.
Moscow Times (5/8): Lunar base strategy follows three part plan. Unmanned probes would lead the way in 2016, according to draft plans developed by Roscosmos with the Russian Academy of Sciences and Moscow State University. Russia will seek international partners but be prepared for an independent program according to the report.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Universe Today (5/7): NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter provides an amazing view of the Earth from the moon.
Sky and Telescope (5/7): Astronomers use observations and super computers to produce the best ever model of the universe and its evolution. The course exceeds 13 billion years and matches with small as well as large scale observations.
NASA (5/7): Observations with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray telescope suggest stars form first in the fringes or star clusters and not in the middle as long believed. Chandra was launched in 1999.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Spacepolitics.com (5/8): U.S. Court of Federal Claims sets Thursday hearing in SpaceX dispute over U.S. Air Force contract award to United Launch Alliance. Hearing will be focused on an appeal to lift an injunction that blocks U.S. payments to a Russian company for production of the RD-180 rocket engine used in the Atlas 5.
Space News (5/7): U.S. State and Treasury Departments say U.S. purchases of Russia’s RD-180 rocket engines for use in the first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 is not a violation of the sanctions imposed by the White House against Russia over the annexation of Crimea. SpaceX prompted an injunction against the imports in a suit filed against the U.S. Air Force over a long running ULA contract award.
Aviation Week & Space Technology (5/7): U.S. national security and defense concerns underpin U.S. Air Force decision to award contested contract with United Launch Alliance for future rockets. SpaceX has protested that the company was unfairly prevented from competing.
Los Angeles Times (5/7): Dana, was an X-15 pilot and more during his career with NASA at what was then the Dryden Flight Research Center in California. Dana died Tuesday in Phoenix. He was 83.
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