CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, November 5
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA, not out of business, places focus on new capabilities for human deep space exploration with the Space Launch System and Orion crew exploration vehicle. U.S. space community challenged to keep national leadership focused on value of space exploration. Analysis of NASA’s Kepler mission data suggest a bounty of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way. India launches Mars mission, triggers Asian space race. NASA’s Morpheus lander team looks to year end return to Kennedy Space Center. NASA’s astrophysics division facing funding challenge. Space Station crew faces orbital traffic jam this week. Olympic torch headed to the ISS. San Francisco-based company offering space burials.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Huffington Post (11/4): The space agency is focused on developments of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and the Orion/Multi-Purpose crew vehicle in the aftermath of the shuttle program’s retirement in 2011, writes Bob Crippen, former NASA astronaut and executive, in an op-ed. SLS and Orion developments will open new deep space destinations to U.S. space explorers, including the asteroids, the moon and eventually Mars, writes Crippen. “…SLS is also an absolute game-changer for ambitious robotic missions to the outer planets and large unprecedented astronomical observatories,” he adds.
Space News (11/4): The U.S. is facing a difficult moment when it comes to focusing the national leadership on the value of space exploration, writes Wayne Hale, a former NASA shuttle program manager, in an op-ed. Hale urges more creativity when it comes to funding the priorities and learning to stream line. “The central problem remains: Where does the money come from? Are we really down to counting on Congress to save the space program?” writes Hale. The Transcontinental Railroad offers one model in which to frame the debate, he suggests.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
New York Times (11/4): Even the most seasoned astronomers express excitement over NASA Kepler space telescope findings that there could be as many as 40 billion habitable Earth like planets in the Milky Way galaxy.
CBS News (11/5): Stars with Earth-like planets may be the rule rather than the exception, scientists announced Monday. Data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope indicates one in five sun-like stars in the Milky Way galaxy likely hosts an Earth-size planet in the habitable zone where life as it is known on Earth can, in theory, exists.
The Space Review (11/4): NASA’s Kepler space telescope, the focus of an international conference at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California this week, finds sun like stars and Earth like planets may go together in the Milky Way galaxy. Findings suggest that one in five sun-like stars host an Earth-like planet.
Universe Today (11/4): Earlier this year, Kepler mission scientists announced the planet hunting space observatory has lost the use of its reaction wheels, devices that enable the telescope to be aimed precisely. The web site reports on potential successor missions based on an interview with Sara Seeger, of MIT, an expert on the search for life beyond the Earth.
ITV (11/5): India launched an unmanned rocket to Mars, initiating the first mission to the red planet by an Asian nation. The spacecraft will travel for 300 days and reach Mars orbit in September 2014.
CNN (11/5): India’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft lifts off on Tuesday at 4:08 a.m., ET, signaling a bid by India to become the first Asian nation to successfully send a mission to the red planet. The flight suggests a Cold War style race for prestige with China, according to some experts on relations in the region.
Russia Today (11/5): With success, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission gives India a place among the U.S., Europe and Russia, which have managed to orbit or land on the red planet. China’s efforts in 2011 failed.
From NASAspaceflight.com (11/4): Morpheus, a NASA prototype for an automated planetary lander, is wrapping up tests at the Johnson Space Center ahead of a return to the Kennedy Space Center and flight tests of a new hazard avoidance technology. The prototype crashed at Kennedy in 2012, leading to a new round of development activities at Johnson.
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/4): NASA’s astrophysics enterprise faces a difficult future if White House and Congress cannot move beyond the budget sequester, Paul Hertz, NASA’s astrophysics division director, tells a National Research Council panel. An exception may be the James Webb Space Telescope which is emerging from financial difficulties and headed toward a late 2018 launching.
Humans to Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (11/5): It’s a busy week in orbit at the International Space Station. With nine astronauts set to crowd the station this week, part of its crew moved a Russian transport vehicle to a different dock to make room for the new arrivals.
Russia Today (11/5): Space engineers have set up the rocket which will carry the Olympic flame to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch of Soyuz TMA-11M is scheduled for Thursday. The Soyuz spacecraft will be boosted by a Soyuz-FG rocket from the first launch pad of the Cosmodrome, the so-called Gagarin’s Start. It will be the first-ever delivery of an Olympic flame into space.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space.com (11/4): Elysium Space enters the space burial business, with a first launch planned for 2014. “We believe that now is the time to change the vision of death from the Underground to the Celestial,” notes a former NASA engineer involved in the San Francisco-based company that will compete with Celestis, Inc., of Houston.
Discovery.com (11/4): Virgin Galactic looks to a third powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo within a month, according to a company executive.
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