CSExtra – Tuesday, July 10, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. California-based XCOR selects West Texas as a future research and development hub for the Lynx suborbital passenger rocket and future orbital endeavors. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory’s ambitious two year mission depends on a harrowing landing strategy. A sidelined Earth observing satellite may find new life. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, one of the agency’s largest installations, offers buyouts to more than 100 senior workers. Russia launches a Dutch communications satellite. A pair of essays examine the latest independent strategic assessment of the agency’s future and the diversity of companies participating in NASA commercial crew initiative.
1. From the Midland Reporter-Telegram: Mojave, Calif., based XCOR, Inc., selects Midland, Tex., as the headquarters for the 13-year-old company’s future research and development activities. XCOR’s projects include the winged Linx rocket plane, a two person reusable suborbital flight vehicle. http://www.mywesttexas.com/top_stories/article_b3521e94-c9d6-11e1-b5f0-0019bb2963f4.html
A. From MSNBC and Space.com: XCOR Aerospace plans development testing of a future reusable orbital space system in Midland as well. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48123302/ns/technology_and_science-space/
2. From The Houston Chronicle: In less than a month, NASA’s $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover mission reaches Mars. It’s two year mission to evaluate the habitability of the Martian environment rests with a harrowing landing. http://www.chron.com/default/article/NASA-hopes-are-riding-on-Mars-rover-s-tricky-3694540.php
A. From the Los Angeles Times: NASA’s Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover delivers a panorama of the Martian terrain in winter. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-mars-panorama-20120709,0,3291853.story
3. From The Orlando Sentinel: Triana, a satellite sentry proposed by former Vice President Al Gore to monitor Climate Change from a distance of a million miles, may be getting a second chance. The spacecraft, now known as the Deep Space Climate Observatory, has been in storage at a Maryland warehouse. But NOAA is planning a $23 million revival in the agency’s 2013 budget that seems to have some political traction. However, it was political opposition that sidelined Triana once Gore lost his bid for the presidency. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-07-09/news/os-gore-satellite-returns-20120706_1_climate-change-climate-change-nasa-satellite
4. From Federal Radio News: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center makes a buyout offer to 117 senior workers. July 20 is the deadline for workers to accept the “early out” offer. http://www.federalnewsradio.com/494/2936079/NASA-offers-buyouts-to-117-Goddard-employees
5. From Ria Novosti of Russia: A Russian Proton rocket launches a Dutch commercial communications satellite. http://en.rian.ru/science/20120709/174503448.html
6. From The Space Review: Two essays examine the most recent Congressionally directed effort to assess NASA’s strategic value and different but promising approaches to U.S. commercial crew development efforts.
A. In “NASA’s Past Considers its Future,” TSR editor Jeff Foust finds past and current NASA administrators at odds over the clarity of the agency’s current direction. Among those confused is Richard Truly, who guided NASA from 1989 to 1992. Once the current administration decided to cancel the Constellation/Vision for Space Exploration initiative, it should have considered a reprieve for the shuttle, Truly suggested to a National Research Council hearing. NASA’s 2012 appropriations bill called on the agency’s Inspector General to assess the organization’s strategic direction. The IG turned to the NRC for the expertise. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2116/1
B. In “Commercial crew providers aplenty,” Anthony Young, who has written on NASA’s history, looks at two approaches to NASA’s commercial crew initiative. ATK, working under an unfunded Space Act Agreement, is leveraging its past work on the Ares 1 and shuttle solid rocket booster, with partnerships involving EADS Astrium and Lockheed Martin. SpaceX, which started its development from the ground up under a funded Space Act Agreement, carried out the first commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station in May. Several other approaches are under way as well. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2114/1
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