CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, November 19
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. The successful launch of NASA’s MAVEN mission on Monday represents a step toward the human exploration of Mars, says NASA administrator Charles Bolden. NASA making strides with Space Launch System, Orion and Commercial Cargo, but Congress is slow to embrace Commercial Crew initiative. John F. Kennedy’s visit to Florida days ahead of his death 50 years ago Saturday is remembered as pivotal for Apollo. Boeing’s Huntington Beach, Calif. facilities mark a half century of operations. NASA’s MAVEN mission lifts off Monday to begin a 10 month cruise to Mars, where it will study the evolution of the planet’s thin atmosphere. Kepler’s imminent planet hunting successors. Intelligent life elsewhere in the universe takes more than habitable planets, writes one expert. Student project among satellites to launch from Virginia late Tuesday. A look at NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems model and its future. Some believe it has deep space applications.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (11/18): NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discusses MAVEN in a video interview — and how like the Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity and others U.S. missions — it will pave the way for human explorers in the mid-2030s.
USA Today (11/19): Russia’s hostilities toward the West are growing writes Robert Zubrin, founder of the Mars Society. One way to stem the trend is to invite Moscow to join with the U.S. on a human expedition to Mars, writes the longtime advocate of human exploration of the red planet.
The Space Review (11/18): NASA marked a range of successes last week, including developments of the Space Launch System heavy launch rocket and the Orion crew exploration vehicle as well as the conclusion to the Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems program. The first are laying the ground work for future human deep space exploration, the latter a new paradigm for commercial cargo and crew missions to the International Space Station. However, deliberations in Congress over the budget are not aligning, especially when it comes to the Commercial Crew Program, writes Douglas Messier, editor of Parabolic Arc.
Space veterans remember JFK’s last visit: The visit, just six days before he was assassinated, rekindled Kennedy’s enthusiasm for the space program at a time when he was privately expressing doubts about its cost, a historian says.
USA Today (11/18): The nation marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death on Nov 23. The final week of his life included a visit to what is now the Kennedy Space Center, which was just them emerging as the launch complex for the Apollo moon missions. The agency’s budget was rising, causing the president to wonder about the objectives. The enthusiasm of JFK’s NASA’s hosts was significant to Kennedy’s support. “I think this visit rekindled his enthusiasm for the program,” said historian John Logsdon, author of Race to the Moon.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
CBS News (11/18): NASA sends the next U.S. Mars mission on its way on Monday at 1:38 p.m., EST. The lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., starts a 10 month journey to the red planet for the manned probe and future communications relay. MAVEN will study the Martian environment and how it changed dramatically over time.
Space.com (11/18): NASA’s MAVEN Mars probe begins $671 million mission in ‘picture perfect’ fashion. MAVEN should reach Mars on Sept. 22, 2014
Florida Today (11/18): Crowds gather in Central Florida on Monday to witness the launching of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V lift off with NASA’s Mars MAVEN mission.
Los Angeles Times (11/18): Today the Martian atmosphere is 1 percent that of the Earth. The agency’s latest robotic explorer will sample gas isotopes, catch solar particles and probe magnetic fields in the Martian upper atmosphere, to try and figure out how long the Red Planet was capable of protecting liquid water — and perhaps even supporting life.
New York Times (11/18): As NASA looks beyond the hobbled Kepler space telescope and its alien planet hunting mission, at least two global space agencies are examining successors. The European Space Agency’s GAIA, which could launch late this year, will orbit the moon to chart stars with planets. NASA’s TESS, or Transiting Exo-planet Survey Satellite, is headed toward a 2017 lift off to seek the 1,000 best alien planets.
New York Times (11/18): An op-ed from an Arizona State University expert tempers enthusiasm for the prospects of widespread life in the universe. “If a planet is to be inhabited rather than merely habitable, two basic requirements must be met: the planet must first be suitable and then life must emerge on it at some stage,” writes Davies.
Low Earth Orbit
Associated Press via Yahoo! Finance (11/18): A NASA, U.S. Air Force collaboration seeks to place 29 small satellites into Earth orbit late Tuesday atop an Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur rocket. Among them a student built satellite and a smart phone. Launching from Wallops Island, Va, is set for 7:30 p.m., EST.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
The Space Review (11/18): Last week, NASA celebrated the conclusion of its successful COTS initiative. For $800 million, COTS nurtured two cargo delivery services to the International Space Station, two new launch vehicles and a new launch complex. But scheduling for the follow on Commercial Crew Program is slipping from 2017 to 2020 in large part because Congress is underfunding the initiative, writes Jeff Foust, TSR editor.
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