CSExtra – Wednesday, August 15, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities under way around the world. On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover prepares for first motion, the next phase of its young two year mission. Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev reacts to a string of Russia space hardware failures. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft experiences a second reaction wheel problem. Has the space race transitioned from a national to a commercial playing field? The International Space Station’s crew looks to a pair of August spacewalks. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney sizes up China’s space ambitions. Wayne Hale, a key figure in NASA’s recovery from the Columbia shuttle tragedy, contemplates the upcoming 10th anniversary of the loss. Mike Griffin, the previous NASA chief, moves from academia to industry. The Red Bull parachute jump is looking like an October event.
1. From CBS News via Spaceflightnow.com: NASA’s MSL/Curiosity rover team looks ahead to some mobility testing in Gale Crater. The control team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has wrapped up a post-landing software transition to science ops. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/mars/msl/120814software/
A. From USA Today: Curiosity’s first motion is set for next Tuesday. NASA’s MSL team faces a five mile, year long drive to Mount Sharp, the 3.5 mile rise in Gale Crater that may hold clues of the planet’s climate history. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-08-14/mars-rover-curiosity-test-drive/57058692/1
B. From NASA via the New York Times: NASA’s MSL/Curiosity rover descending to the floor of Gale Crater under parachute early Aug. 6. Photo only. http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2012/08/14/science/14MARS1.html
2. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev asks for proposals to improve Roscosmos, the federal space agency, and tighten controls over spacecraft production, following a meeting with representatives from the two sectors. He’s due responses in a month. The directive came in response to an Aug. 7 Proton rocket second stage failure and the loss of two communications satellites. It was the seventh failure in 18 months of Russian space hardware. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120814/175211819.html
3. From Science News: Dawn, NASA’s long running mission to the main asteroid belt destinations Vesta and Ceres, experiences a second reaction wheel failure, leaving two of the aiming devices. Launched in 2007, Dawn is scheduled to begin a 2.5 year trek from Vesta to the minor planet Ceres on Sept. 4, with all four of the reaction wheels deactivated. Engineers believe the mission can be completed. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/343061/title/Dawn_mission_to_die_another_day_
4. From USA Today: The newspaper finds the private sector primed to haul people as well as cargo into Earth orbit and possibly beyond. The race to space is no longer about national rivalry, USA Today reports. http://travel.usatoday.com/news/story/2012-08-13/A-new-space-race-Companies-vie-to-haul-cargo-passengers/57036720/1
5. From Space.com: NASA looks to its first spacewalk in more than year. The Aug. 30 walk is one of two outings planned outside the International Space Station in the coming days. Two cosmonauts will go first, on Aug. 20, engaging in activities intended to prep the station for the arrival of a large Multipurpose Science Module in 2013. Astronauts will replace a failed main bus switching unit during the second walk. http://www.space.com/17109-space-station-spacewalks-expedition-32.html
A. From Ria Novosti of Russia: The International Space Station is scheduled for an altitude raising boost on Wednesday. The rise will prepare the six person space station for a future Soyuz crew transport departure and arrival. http://en.rian.ru/science/20120815/175217637.html
6. From Spacepolitics.com: Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, on the campaign trail, dismisses Chinese plans to explore the moon. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/08/14/obama-romney-mars-and-china/
7. From Wayne Hale’s blog: NASA’s post Columbia shuttle program deputy manager and manager lays the groundwork for a look back at the tragedy, which is closing in on its 10th anniversary. http://waynehale.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/after-ten-years-why-write-now/
8. From Space News: Mike Griffin, NASA’s previous administrator, returns to corporate aerospace, with his selection as the chair and CEO of the Schafer Corp., the Virginia-based sciences engineering services contractor. Since departing the space agency, Griffin has been a professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120814-griffin-ceo-schafer.html
9. From Space.com: Felix Baumgartner, the prospective record breaking Red Bull parachute jumper, must wait until October to leap from a balloon rising to more than 120,000 feet. An issue with his balloon compartment is driving the schedule. http://www.space.com/17105-space-jump-red-bull-stratos-delayed.html
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