CSExtra – Tuesday, April 17, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA and SpaceX look to April 30 for the lift off of the first U. S. commercial cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. Weather permitting, shuttle orbiter Discovery departs NASA’s Kennedy Space Center this morning for the Washington D. C. area and public display by the Smithsonian. Today is the deadline for U. S. 2012 federal income tax returns — about a half cent of each dollar goes to NASA. China eclipsed the U. S. in rocket launches for the first time in 2011, though Russia remains the world’s leader. Scientists unravel a Pioneer 10-11 mystery. The sun flares. Essays examine the U. S. role in a Space Code of Conduct and a modest revival for the Space Studies Institute.
1.From CBS News: SpaceX, one of two partners in NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, looks to April 30 for a potentially historic launch. The company’s Falcon9/Dragon will attempt to achieve the first U. S. commercial cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. NASA initiated the program six years ago in a bid to free up money for deep space exploration by establishing a space station commercial cargo and passenger transportation market. SpaceX has some final software issues to clear April 22-23 before the launch is on for sure. May 3 is the tentative docking date. http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/home/spacenews/files/7bfe8f1afc1c0e225c614f3c7bd6d61c-394.html
A. From Space News: A second look to verify SpaceX software appears to be all that stands between an April 30 lift off attempt by the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon rocket and space freighter. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120416-spacex-track-for-april-launch-space-station.html
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: Shuttle Orbiter Discovery was poised early Tuesday for her ferry flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Dulles International Airport in the Washington D. C. area. The Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, with Discovery mounted atop, was to be airborne at 7 a.m., EDT. The trip to Dulles and ultimately a perch at the Smithsonian Institution for public display was to take about four hours, enough for the SCA to circle Kennedy and Washington before touching down. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts133/120416preview/
A. From Florida Today: Saying goodbye to Discovery proves emotional to those who serviced and flew the spacecraft. http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20120417/SPACE/304170013/space-shuttle-discovery-smithsonian?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Space
B. From the Smithsonian Magazine: A look back at how The Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum came to be Discovery’s final home. “We never took it for granted,” says museum curator Valerie Neal of NASA’s decision to hand off the wing spacecraft. http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/aroundthemall/2012/04/air-and-space-curator-valerie-neal-talks-discovery-prep/
C. From Collectspace.com: Discovery’s ferry flight crew sports a colorful mission patch. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-041312a.html
3. From Discovery.com: For most Americans today is the deadline for filing a 2012 income tax return. How much goes to NASA? Less than a half cent of each dollar. The percentage was twice that two decades ago. http://news.discovery.com/space/its-tax-day-send-in-your-005-for-nasa-120416.html
4. From Wired News: In 2011, China eclipsed the U. S. for the first time in the number of rocket launches, 19 to 18. Russia meanwhile held its lead with 31. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/04/china-rocket-launches/
5. From Physics World: What’s giving NASA’s Pioneer 10 and 11 probes an extra push as they exit the solar system? It’s the heat emitted by the plutonium 238 power sources carried by the two spacecraft, not some strange force or a challenge to Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The two spacecraft were launched on missions to the outer planets in March 1972 and April 1973. Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to traverse the asteroid belt on its way to Jupiter. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2012/apr/16/exotic-explanation-for-pioneer-anomaly-ruled-out
6. From Space.com: The sun unleashed a powerful solar flare on Monday. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory captured the action. The Coronal Mass Ejection that accompanied the flare was not aimed at the Earth. http://www.space.com/15300-solar-flare-sun-eruption-photos.html
7. Two essays from The Space Review examine the challenge of mitigating the growing space debris hazard and an effort to revive the visionary Space Studies Institute founded by Gerald K. O’Neill.
A. In “Working towards a space code of conduct,” essayist Thomas D. Taverney of SAIC, writes on a dilemma facing every modern nation: the space assets they rely on for mass communications, navigation and defense are vulnerable to a growing threat posed by the accumulation of space debris. Should the U. S. lead, participate or block global efforts to forge a solution. Taverney examines the not so straight forward options. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2066/1
B. In “A new great enterprise for space settlement,” TSR editor Jeff Foust examines the legacy of the fabled Gerald K. O’Neill and the Space Studies Institute. The SSI is undergoing in a revival in its mission to foster a permanent human presence in space. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2065/1
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