CSExtra – Tuesday, July 30, 2013
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. In Washington, a NASA initiative to robotically corral a small asteroid into lunar orbit for a visit by U. S. astronauts meets political opposition. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden meets with South Korean leadership over possible cooperation in proposed asteroid mission. First alien planet detected using X-ray observations. Fifty-five years ago, President Eisenhower signs legislation establishing NASA. Space agency data suggest a multi-year rise of global warming. A long forgotten space shuttle science investigation offers a basis for a jet bio-fuel. Scientists behind NASA’s New Horizons mission focused on a mid-2015 first spacecraft flyby of Pluto. Russia readies the Olympic torch assigned to the opening of the 2014 Winter Games for a trip to the International Space Station. Essays find New Space sprouting in Silicon Valley and realism as well as drama behind the new feature film Europa Report.
1. From The New York Times: A White House/NASA initiative, outlined in the space agency’s 2014 budget proposal to robotically retrieve a small asteroid and place it in a stable lunar orbit where it could be examined by U. S. astronauts, encounters an obstacle, Republican opposition in Washington, the Times reports. NASA historically has looked to bi-partisan political support.
2. From NASAspaceflight.com: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden courts Japan, then on Monday South Korea as prospective partners in the agency’s proposal to find, corral and redirect a small asteroid to lunar orbit for first hand examination by U. S. astronauts.
3. From Discovery.com: Astronomers discover first alien planet using X-ray observations.
A. From The Houston Chronicle: President Dwight Eisenhower signs legislation establishing NASA 55 years ago. Agency’s grand opening was October 1958.
4. From The Washington Post: NASA data suggest a multi-year onset of global warming.
5. From Parabolic Arc: Florida based Zero-Gravity Solutions, Inc., dials back to a space shuttle experiment involving “directed gene expression” in hopes of altering a tropical plant strain for growth in West Texas. The plant’s berries show promise as a future source of jet fuel.
6. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: Scientists behind NASA’s New Horizons mission to distant Pluto and the Kuiper Belt are starting to fine tune their data acquisition strategy. Launched in January 2006, the camera laden New Horizons spacecraft is to make the first flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015.
7. From Collectspace.com: Russia outlines plans to launch the Olympic torch and other memorabilia to the International Space Station ahead of the 2014 Winter Games. The games in Sochi, Russia are set for Feb. 7-23. A traditional relay with the torch is set to get underway on Oct. 7. If the schedule holds, a shadow torch will lift off on Nov. 7 for the International Space Station and a brief exposure outside the six person orbiting lab during a spacewalk.
8. From The Washington Post: A look at Stratolauch, an air launch strategy backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. A dual keeled aircraft carrying a rocket will rise to 30,000 feet, drop the launcher with a payload headed for Earth orbit. A test flight is eyed for 2016.
9. Two essays from The Space Review find Silicon Valley fertile ground for New Space as well as an affinity for realism behind the new feature film, Europa Report.
A. In “The Silicon Valley of Space would be Silicon Valley,” TSR editor Jeff Foust finds a critical mass for New Space emerging in Silicon Valley, thanks to the proximity of NASA’s Ames Research Center and investors. Some of the latest focus is on NanoSats and 3-D Printing devices for space. SV is starting to gain some of the traction that once seemed rooted in Mojave, Calif., home to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo assembly activities, XCOR and others, as well as in Seattle.
B. In “Talk of an icy moon at Vegas for nerds,” regular TSR contributor Dwayne Day backgrounds the production of Europa Report, a feature film, opening in theaters Aug. 2 and already available for download. From Comic-con in San Diego, actors, director and producers explain how they turned to advice from NASA scientists and others to inject realism as well as drama in their film of alien encounter on the Jovian moon Europa.
10. From Space.com: Some engineers and scientists are hard at work on unraveling the potential for biological activity on Europa, the large Jovian moon that hosts an ice covered ocean. One concept would send nuclear powered probes to drill through the ice and release smaller probes that could explore and sample the waters below.
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