CSExtra – Wednesday, April 24, 2013
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA leadership appears before House and Senate hearings this week focused on the agency’s proposed 2014 budget. The Hubble Space Telescope spots comet ISON. The SpaceX Grasshopper reaches new heights in re-usable rocket test launch. PhoneSats hitchhike to orbit aboard Orbital Science’s Antares test launch. SpaceShipTwo is poised to break the sound barrier. The Olympic Torch for the 2014 Winter Games may be headed to the International Space Station. Skeptics confront NASA’s new asteroid mission proposal, question the business case for new commercial space ventures. Elon Musk envisions a future with warp drive.
1. From Spacepolitics.com: NASA on Tuesday began a three-day series of Congressional hearings on NASA’s 2014 budget request. The spending plan includes a NASA mission to corral an asteroid and divert its course near the moon, where astronauts could explore it as soon as 2021. NASA goes before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday and Senate appropriators on Thursday.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com: Thomas Stafford, former Apollo astronaut and NASA adviser, urges policymakers to look to the moon as the nation’s next destination in testimony before the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee.
B. From Florida Today: NASA’s plans for human spaceflight face a setback if the White House and Congress cannot agree on a strategy to rollback the budget sequester, a top NASA official testifies before the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee on Tuesday.
2. From Space.com: Comet ISON, which could become one of the brightest objects in the skies late this year, is photographed while far beyond its future encounter with the sun by the Hubble Space Telescope.
A. From Discovery.com: Comet ISON, which is shedding a lot of mass as it heads around the sun, could bring an unusual meteor shower to Earth early next year, say experts.
3. From Space.com: Grasshopper, the SpaceX prototype for a re-usable rocket booster, climbs to an altitude of 80 stories at a Central Texas test facility before landing. The test flight took place April 19.
4. From The Los Angeles Times: There was a secondary payload on Orbital Science Corp’s Antares rocket, launched Sunday. It was three smart phones incased in metal cubes. The trio of NASA PhoneSats could be the prototype for clouds of small satellites assigned to observe the Earth, the moon and sun.
5. From Parabolic Arc and Las Vegas Sun: The SpaceShipTwo test team is looking to next Monday for a flight that breaks the sound barrier, according to Sir Richard Branson, of Virgin Galactic. A planned series of test flights should take the suborbital passenger rocket into space late this year, PA reports.
6. From Collectspace.com: The Olympic torch may be headed for the International Space Station later this year aboard a Soyuz spacecraft. Russia will play host to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi on the Black Sea coast.
7. Op-eds from The Space Review find skepticism clouding NASA’s proposed asteroid capture mission and doubts about the business case surrounding some of the newest space enterprises.
A. In “To catch a planetoid,” TSR editor Jeff Foust finds early skepticism for NASA’s plans to find and direct a small asteroid into orbit near the moon, where it could be explored by U. S. astronauts, possibly as early as 2021. NASA formally unveiled the plan as part of President Obama’s 2014 budget presentation. Key members of Congress as well as NASA’s external advisory groups have begun to question the cost, science value and whether NASA has the capabilities.
B. In “The business of space travel,” Frank Stratford, CEO and founder of Mars Drive, ponders the business model embraced by new space start ups drawn to the growing global space economy with plans to mine asteroids and transport passengers to the moon and Mars. Stratford foresees difficulties for those not focused on existing markets and solutions to current problems.
8. From NBCNews and Cosmic Log: During a Google+ Hangout to promote the science fiction film After Earth, SpaceX founder Elon Musk envisions a future with a warp drive that one day permits faster than light travel.
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