CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, March 18, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Alabama congressman asserts White House prepared to under fund development of the NASA Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. NASA embraces a capability driven framework for future human deep space exploration. NASA teams working seven days a week to prep first unpiloted Orion test flight by end of 2014. Advocate makes case for a lunar base. Sluggish economy altering U.S. space sector future. Astrophysicists find evidence for gravity waves, a sign of post big bang inflation. International Space Station maneuvered to avoid space debris. Checking China on anti-satellite weapons test. Shaping a space code of conduct that is fair to the commercial space sector. U.S. Sen Bill Nelson sounds call for Commercial Crew Program spending in response to tensions with Russia over Ukraine. Planet Labs announces plans to expand its Earth observing fleet of CubeSats.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Huntsville Times, of Alabama (3/17): U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, of Alabama, claims the White House is underfunding development of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, which is intended to send U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. The White House budget request for fiscal year 2015 seeks $1.38 billion to develop SLS, vs the $1.6 billion for 2014. Anything less in 2015 will delay development plans, said Brooks. While visiting the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville last week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagreed. The agency is asking for what it needs to stay on a development schedule, said Bolden.
NASAspaceflight.com (3/17): NASA embraces a capability-driven framework that requires the agency to select celestial destinations based on future space and ground systems’ capabilities rather than designing space and ground systems’ capabilities based on destinations. Capabilities in development or on the drawing board could take humans to lunar orbit, support an asteroid encounter and eventually a mission to the Martian surface, the web site reports.
Florida Today (3/18): NASA’s Kennedy Space Center teams are working seven days a week to prepare first unpiloted flight of Orion crew capsule by the end of 2014. Mission, though, slipping from September/October to December to accommodate a U. S. military mission. “…as soon as we get our opportunity, we’re going to be launching that vehicle on its first flight test, and that is pretty darn amazing.” Kennedy’s director says Monday.
Fox News (3/17): “The prospect of establishing a permanent presence on the moon would be a game-changer for the human race,” according to Gene Grush, a former propulsion and power division chief at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “If we can make it there, we could start to understand what it really takes — from both the design and human survival perspective — to live on a foreign body.” The network plans a five part series on how America could return humans to its closest planetary neighbor.
Space News (3/17): The U.S. space sector, civilian as well as military, must cope with change or shrink, cautions Gary Oleson, a veteran engineer, in an op ed. The U.S. is faced with its slowest year by year growth since World War II, he notes. “The federal space sector thus faces a stark choice: Reduce unit costs or produce less,” he says. “By reducing unit costs I mean reducing full life-cycle costs while maintaining or increasing the quantity, quality and reliability of the results produced.”
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
New York Times (3/17): Researchers at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announce compelling new evidence for the theorized Big Bang and a force that caused the universe to swell enormously just after.
Science News (3/17): Harvard astrophysicists spot evidence for long sought signature of gravity waves that accompanied the theorized big bang from which the universe emerged.
Spaceflightnow.com (3/17): South Pole observatory finds compelling evidence for inflation after big bang. Finding accounts for observations of a universe expanding faster than the speed of light.
Nature (3/17): Harvard astrophysicist John Kovac explains the gravitational wave discovery.
Low Earth Orbit
Associated Press via Washington Post (3/17): U.S. and Russian ground control teams coordinate an evasive maneuver of the International Space Station on Sunday night, NASA announces on Monday. Alerted, the three astronauts on board slept as debris from a former Soviet weather satellite passed without incident.
Space Review (3/17): The Obama administration should do more to spotlight evidence of a Chinese anti-satellite system test launch in May 2013, writes Brian Weeden, a technical advisor for Secure World Foundation, in a lengthy essay. The exposure could mobilize global outrage over the destabilizing test, he writes.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Spacepolitics.com (3/17): NASA briefs some members of Congress on how tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine might impact space relations, reports U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida. Concerns merit more money for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, an initiative to nurture U.S. private sector transportation for astronauts to the International Space Station, says Nelson. The U.S. pays Russia for Soyuz rides now.
The Space Review: (3/17): Consideration of an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities should be carefully assessed for its impact on commercial space activities, writes Michael Listner, a U.S. expert in space law, in an essay.
Space News (3/17): The San Francisco based company’s new CubeSats will join 28 of the small Earth observing spacecraft launched from the International Space Station in February. With 100 of the satellites, Planet Labs can photo the entire Earth every 24 hours.
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