CSExtra – Tuesday, April 30, 2013
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. In California, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo breaks the sound barrier Monday in a milestone flight test. With less of a public spotlight, other U. S. suborbital spaceflight companies make progress. NASA faces worker furloughs and major contract re-negotiations if the 2013 budget sequester persists, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden cautions. Humans on Mars appeals to U. S. public sentiment. NASA’s Cassini mission spots a major storm on Saturn. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory huddles to recover the Opportunity rover from standby mode. The European Space Agency’s Herschel deep space observatory mission comes to a close. In France, scientists bounce laser beams of an historic Russian lunar rover.
1. From The Los Angeles Times: Virgin Galactic test pilots broke the sound barrier as they reached a top speed of Mach 1.2 and an altitude of 56,000 feet over the Mojave Desert, northeast of Los Angeles. Future powered test flights will take SpaceShipTwo to suborbital space.
A. From The New York Times: Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo bring 500 prospective space tourists closer to suborbital space flight. That’s how many people have paid for a spot on the sleek rocket ship once it begins to carry passengers, perhaps next year.
B. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo make history.
C. From Spaceflightnow.com: Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo bring the masses a step closer to spaceflight.
2. From The Space Review: In, “Suborbital spaceflight powers up,” TSR editor Jeff Foust checks in with suborbital pioneers XCOR, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace, as Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo break the sound barrier on the road to regular suborbital passenger flight.
3. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: If the 2013 budget sequester persists, NASA will be forced to renegotiate contracts and furlough workers, agency administrator Charles Bolden informed a Senate appropriations panel last week.
4. From The Washington Post: Human missions to Mars move into the realm of possibility. “A human mission to Mars is a priority, and our entire exploration program is aligned to support this goal,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
5. From Space News: Public expectations for a human mission to Mars grows even in a difficult economic climate, according to an op-ed penned by Chris Carberry, a co-founder of Explore Mars Inc., and Blake Ortner, co-chair of the Human2Mars Summit, a gathering planned for early May in Washington.
6. From The Wall Street Journal: NASA’s long running Cassini mission reveals a powerful hurricane churning near the north pole of Saturn. The imagery was gathered in late November.
A. From National Public Radio: Eye of Saturn storm spans more than 1,200 miles. This hurricane has churned for several years.
B. From The Los Angeles Times: Saturn hurricane video.
7. From Space.com: NASA’s Opportunity rover slips into standby mode. Opportunity landed on the red planet in 2004. The standby status was noticed April 27, when Opportunity checked in after a lengthy communications loss linked to a planetary alignment that placed the sun between the orbital positions of the Earth and Mars.
8. From Spaceflightnow.com: The European Space Agency’s near four-year Herschel deep space observatory mission comes to an expected close with the depletion of the spacecraft’s supply of liquid helium coolant. The helium chilled the telescope’s infrared optics, allowing observations of distant faint objects in the distant universe. “Herschel has been productive up to the last drop,” said Goran Pilbratt, Herschel’s project scientist.
9. From Ria Novosti, of Russia: French scientists bounce a laser beam off of Russia’s Lunokod 1, an eight wheeled rover that landed on the moon in late 1970.
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