CSExtra – Tuesday, May 15, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers a collection of the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Three U.S. and Russian astronauts lift off late Monday for the International Space Station. SpaceX prepares to demonstrate the commercial sector’s role in future exploration. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, takes issue with the House version of NASA’s 2013 budget and its restrictive treatment of commercial crew space transportation. Essays look deeper into the significance of Saturday’s SpaceX launch and supply mission to the space station as well as the value of the station to the future exploration of Mars. One NASA shuttle veteran with roots in the Apollo era is not at all pleased with the nation’s direction in space. The European Space Agency looks to crowd sourcing for a asteroid identification. An asteroid flies close.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com and CBS News: A Soyuz rocket with two Russians and an American lifts off late Monday for the International Space Station. The Soyuz transport carrying Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joe Acaba is on a course to dock with the station early Thursday. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp31/120514launch/
2. From The New York Times: SpaceX, one of two companies that has partnered with NASA to initiate commercial re-supply services to the International Space Station, is scheduled to lift off early Saturday on a potentially historic mission. SpaceX founder Elon Musk predicts the commercial sector will be pivotal in humanity’s exploration of Mars. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/science/space/contracts-help-private-sector-edge-deeper-into-space.html?_r=2&ref=science
3. From Spacepolitics.com: U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, predicts the Senate will remove House restrictions on NASA’s efforts to foster U.S. commercial crew space transportation services. The restrictions are included in the House version of NASA’s 2013 budget. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/05/14/nelson-early-commercial-crew-downselect-would-be-silliness/
4. Two essays from Monday’s The Space Review assess a) the stakes for SpaceX as the company undertakes its mission to the International Space Station and b) the value of the International Space Station to the future exploration of Mars.
A. In “The big test” TSR editor Jeff Foust offers perspective on The SpaceX launch early Saturday of the first U.S. commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. The 18-day Falcon 9/Dragon mission, in every sense an ambitious test flight, promises to be closely watched. If all goes well, confidence in NASA’s strategy of turning orbital cargo and crew missions over to the private sector is likely to grow, Foust writes. The outcome of a setback is more difficult to predict. However, House appropriators are already urging NASA to scale back from four to one the number of commercial crew partners the agency is funding. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2082/1
B. In “Why ISS can advance Mars exploration,” Chris Carberry executive director of Explore Mars Inc., believes a Mars analog mission based from the ISS is essential. Move quickly, Carberry urges, to keep the effort from being politicized. The station can also serve as a test bed for a range of environmental control and crew health equipment that will be needed for the long journey, Carberry writes. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2081/1
5. From the Examiner.com: NASA has no leadership, no goals, says retired NASA shuttle astronaut Story Musgrave, who flew aboard the space shuttle six times. http://www.examiner.com/article/legendary-astronaut-criticizes-nasa-and-it-s-future-goals
6. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: The European Space Agency enlists amateur astronomers in efforts to catalogue the many asteroids that pass close to the Earth. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/nasa/amateurs-to-%e2%80%9ccrowdsource%e2%80%9d-asteroids
7. From Space.com: The 40 foot asteroid 2012 JU was the latest of the many near Earth space rocks to pass close to the planet. On Sunday, the asteroid slipped within 120,000 miles of the Earth, well inside the orbit of the moon. http://www.space.com/15676-asteroid-earth-close-flyby-2012ju.html
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