CSExtra – Tuesday, December 18, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. At the moon, NASA’s twin GRAIL spacecraft missions come to a scheduled end with a crash. The impact site is named for Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut. North Korea’s controversial rocket launch leaves a failing satellite in orbit. Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan notes that Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of the final lunar mission splashdown. The National Research Council fills out the study roster for a new report on the nation’s human space exploration efforts. The U. S. Air Force engages Lockheed Martin for new satellite development. NASA turns to a “Gangnam” parody to advance youthful interest in science and engineering.
1. From National Public Radio: Out of fuel, NASA’s twin Grail lunar orbiting spacecraft crash into a mountain near the moon’s north pole on Monday. The crash was planned to keep the two probes from striking historically significant landing sites for previous U. S. missions and those of the former Soviet Union. The Ebb and Flow spacecraft maneuvered into orbit around the moon on Dec. 31, 2011 and Jan. 1, 2012.
A. From Space.com: NASA names the GRAIL mission Ebb and Flow lunar crash site for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Ride died in July of pancreatic cancer. She was 61. Her Sally Ride Science initiative supplied cameras to Ebb and Flow for an educational program.
2. From The New York Times: The payload carried to orbit by a controversial North Korean rocket launch last week is circling out of control. The satellite has most likely failed, say tracking specialists.
3. From The New York Times: Forty years ago Wednesday, NASA’s Apollo 17 mission splashed down, ending the last in a series of moon landings by U. S. astronauts. Gene Cernan, the commander, now 78, laments the absence of follow on missions.
4. Two essays from The Space Review assess a flurry of outside reports on the U. S. civil space program as well as a presentation on the nation’s space science legacy.
A. In “What’s the purpose of a 21st Century space agency?” TSR editor Jeff Foust examines a recent stream of outside reviews regarding the direction of NASA and the U. S. civil space program. At the same time, a second National Research Council study that is just starting will examine the nation’s human space flight goals. These efforts are finding little that is new — NASA’s direction is compromised by budget limits. Perhaps the Fiscal Cliff will force changes, desired or not, raised by the flood of advice, writes Foust.
B. In “History rhymes,” contributor Dwayne Day notes NASA recently logged the 50th anniversary of its Mariner 2 Mars mission, an occasion marked with questions over the future of planetary science. What’s all the gloom and doom doing in the midst of a “Golden Age” of planetary science, as evidenced by the August landing of the Mars Curiosity rover, writes Day. “Right now there are more spacecraft operating, around more planets, gathering more data, than ever before,” he notes.
5. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The National Research Council fills in the membership of two panels that will carry out of study of the nation’s human space flight objectives. Deliberations begin this week in Washington.
6. From Bloomberg.com: The U. S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin point to a late December $2.6 billion contract award to produce the first members of a new high frequency communications satellite fleet.
A. From The Orlando Business Journal: Jacobs Technology wins a potential $1.37 billion test and operations contract from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The agreement, if all options are exercised, begins March 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2022.
7. From Space.com: NASA’s Johnson Space Center parodies “Gangnam Style” entertainment to advance science, math and engineering.
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