CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, April 1, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission gains definition, but slowly; for instance, asteroid capture and maneuver into lunar orbit could take two courses. U.S. Navy christens research vessel for Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong. Scientist Sara Seeger energizes search for extra-terrestrial life. Sun erupts. Experts on the lookout for terrestrial disturbances. India edges toward independent human launch capability. NASA announces contract extensions for International Space Station commercial re-supply companies, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. Florida space launches stalled to mid-April by ground tracking station damage.
Human Deep Space Exploration
The Space Review (3/31): In a Congressional hearing and special Washington forum last week, NASA provided updated details on the proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission unveiled nearly a year ago. The space agency remains in the thick of planning, including the selection of an asteroid target, technical details and mission dates. However, one top official ventured the costs would be closer to $1.3 billion, rather than the $2.6 billion initial estimate from the Keck Institute for Space Studies. Congress, for the most part, seems skeptical. And NASA now suggests a date later than 2021 for an astronaut encounter with the captured asteroid once it has been maneuvered into a stable lunar orbit. NASA plans a Mission Concept Review early next year.
Space.com (3/31): NASA weighs two strategies to maneuver an asteroid into a stable lunar orbit, where it could be accessible to U.S. astronauts. The target could be an entire small asteroid or a piece of a much larger asteroid.
Collectspace.com (3/31): New U.S. Navy research vessel christened in honor of Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, first human to walk on the moon and a Navy aviator.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
La Prensa (3/31): MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager, an acclaimed scientist, is convinced that exo-planets host some form of life and has vowed to find the evidence. Seager fell in love with space when she was little and saw the moon for the first time through a telescope.
Space.com (3/31): NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spots major solar flare on Saturday that was powerful enough to silence Earthly radio transmissions briefly. More flares and Earthly disturbances might be in store.
Spaceweather.com (3/31): Prospects for geomagnetic storms increase Tuesday and Wednesday from multiple solar flares expected to deliver glancing blows to the Earth’s magnetic field.
Low Earth Orbit
The Space Review (3/31): The 30th anniversary of the first spaceflight by an Indian approaches, with came in 1984 with Rakesh Sharma’s participation in a Russian mission. Recently, India has shown signs of establishing an independent human launch capability, which seems increasingly inevitable given the current international nature of human spaceflight. With its large population, India seems destined to become a force in the field, writes Gurbir Singh.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space News (3/31): NASA announces planned two year extensions of the Commercial Resupply Services contracts it awarded SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp. in late 2008 to provide cargo to the International Space Station. Extensions, considered on a 12 month basis, would stretch the delivery work from December 2015 through 2017, according to the report. SpaceX is preparing for its 3rd launch under a 12 mission, $1.6 billion contract awarded in late 2008. Orbital is preparing for its second launch under a nine mission, $1.9 billion agreement, there is no cost to the agency for the changes, SN reports.
Spaceflightnow.com (3/30): Florida space launches are expected to be grounded until mid-April by a recent electrical problem in a U.S. Air Force ground tracking station. At least one U.S. cargo mission to the International Space Station will be delayed while repairs are made.
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