CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, September 26
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. U. S. and Russian astronauts dock with the International Space Station late Wednesday, initiating a six month mission. International Space Station’s oldest module, Russian Zarya, checks out for operations until 2028. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope takes on new role in alien planet search. NASA radar device used to look for survivors trapped beneath rubble. NASA civil servants facing unpaid furloughs if government shuts down next week, according to USA Today analysis. Scientists find similarities, differences between the young Earth and Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io. NASA looks at revival of Starshade planet hunter mission. China asks public for help in naming first lunar rover. SpaceX blames Blue Origin for slowing NASA’s Florida commercial launch pad lease plans. Virgin Galactic entertains future StarShipTwo passengers. U. S. private sector best suited to return humans to the moon, writes James Lovell, the former Apollo mission commander.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com and CBS News: A Soyuz crew transport with three U. S. and Russian crew members docked with the International Space Station late Wednesday, restoring the orbiting science laboratory to six crew status. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy docked with the station at 10:48 p.m., EDT. They replace three U.S. and Russian astronauts who departed the station on Sept. 10. The newcomers have trained for six months of orbital duty.
A. From Ria Novosti, of Russia: Veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kotov leads rookie Soyuz colleagues to the International Space Station, NASA’s Mike Hopkins and fellow cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy
B. From Time Magazine: U. S. and Russian Soyuz crew reaches International Space Station after a six hour flight. It’s the third such “express” mission, a trip that traditionally requires two days.
C. From Space.com: NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, a physical fitness guru. Hopkins, the first of the astronauts selected by NASA in 2009, hopes young and old alike will follow his space work outs and exercise more as well. Hopkins, a U. S. Air Force officer, was the captain of the football team at the University of Illinois.
2. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: The oldest module of the nearly 15-year-old International Space Station, Russia’s Zarya, has been cleared for orbital operations through 2028, or twice its design life despite some micro cracking in a ground analog used to simulate the wear and tear.
3. From NASA: NASA’s 10-year-old Spitzer Space Telescope embraces new role: searching for exo-planets.
4. From the Los Angeles Times: NASA technologies developed for planetary missions are finding an important Earthly mission — locating human survivors trapped beneath rubble. Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, or FINDER, is a radar device developed with the Department of Homeland Security.
5. From USA Today: Most of NASA’s 18,000 civil servants face unpaid furloughs if Congress fails to pass a budget Continuing Resolution as the 2014 fiscal year opens on Oct. 1, according to an assessment by the newspaper.
6. From New Scientist: Planetary geologists compare a young Earth with Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io to learn how the Earth cooled so rapidly, nurturing conditions favorable to life.
7. From New Scientist: NASA revives an exo-planet mission concept called Starshade. The approach promises to directly image Earth sized planets in the habitable zones of distant stars.
8. From Xinhuanet, of China: China asks the public to suggest names for the country’s first lunar rover. A December lift off is planned.
9. From Space News: A dispute between Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX over plans to commercially lease Launch Complex 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center threatens to slow SpaceX expansion plans, according to company founder Elon Musk. SpaceX recently indicated plans for a shared use launch pad operating strategy rather than the exclusive use plan originally submitted to NASA.
10. From Time Magazine: About 300 future Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo passengers gathered in Mojave, Calif., on Wednesday for an update on their suborbital spaceflight plans. More than 600 have signed up at a cost ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 each. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is still in development and undergoing test flights.
11. From Space News: The U. S. should look to the nation’s commercial sector for a way back to the moon, writes James Lovell, who commanded NASA’s Apollo 8 and 13 missions. “The idea of an American aerospace firm orchestrating important scientific and exploratory missions for government space programs around the world as well as corporations and adventurous individuals is extremely exciting,” writes Lovell. Lovell recently became an advisor to the Golden Spike Co., which plans develop a commercial two person lunar mission capability.
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