CSExtra – Wednesday, February 29, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers a roundup of the latest reporting and commentary on space-related activities from around the globe. NASA accelerates efforts to develop a near term Mars mission strategy under a constrained budget. The Next Generation Suborbital Research Conference in California this week finds enthusiasm for adventure travel, science missions. The emerging commercial space industry looks for an inspiring figure. A NASA moon mission re-defines early lunar bombardment. A recent study upholds inflation as a significant early influence in shaping the universe. The Washington area prepares for the April arrival of Discovery, the retired shuttle orbiter. NASA sizes up its propulsion options for early test flights of the Space Launch System.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA aims for a mid-summer deadline for a new near term Mars exploration strategy that fits within the constraints of the agency’s proposed 2013 budget. There are favorable launch opportunities in 2016 and 2018, when the Earth and Mars align favorably. Mars veteran Orlando Figueroa will lead that effort that has a cost cap of around $700 million. One proposal, Insight, would place a lander on Mars to study the planet’s internal structure. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1202/28marsplanning/
2. From Space.com: Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, a one time X-15 pilot, endorses efforts by commercial transportation services to develop a suborbital market for human passengers. The promise of adventure and opportunities to carry out science are two of the activities at the forefront. Armstrong spoke this week at the Next Generation Suborbital Research Conference in Palo Alto, Calif. http://www.space.com/14698-neil-armstrong-suborbital-commercial-spaceflight.html
A. From Space.com: Virgin Galactic is aiming for its first rocket powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo this year, company officials tell the California suborbital research conference. Commercial passenger operations would follow a year or two later. http://www.space.com/14706-virgin-galactic-spaceshiptwo-powered-flight.html
B. From The Los Angeles Times: California must become more “business friendly” or risk losing its popularity with aerospace companies, Stuart Witt, the general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port, warns the Palo Alto suborbital research conference. The industry is being lured away to states like New Mexico, Maryland, Virginia, Colorado, Texas and Florida, according to Witt. http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-mojave-space-suborbit-20120227,0,849782.story
3. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: U. S. hopes of spurring a commercial space transportation market could use an inspiring figure who appeals to a wide audience. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awst/2012/02/27/AW_02_27_2012_p18-426841.xml&headline=Experts:%20Commercial%20Space%20Day%20Has%20Not%20Come
4. From the Coalition for Space Exploration: Armed with data from instruments aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists from the U. S. and France have detected acceleration in the velocity of asteroids striking the moon, and presumably the Earth, four billion years ago. The finding suggests much larger Jupiter and Saturn shifted their distant positions. The change in gravitational influence sped up the incoming asteroids. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/new-data-asteroid-bombardment-of-moon
5. From Universe Today: What shaped the very early universe? Physicists generally point to an “inflation” model, or period after the big bang in which the universe sprang outward. A recent study seems to affirm the model and finds that other explanations require some strange physics — for instance, a state in which sound traveled faster than light. http://www.universetoday.com/93845/our-early-universe-inflation-or-something-totally-wacky/#more-93845
6. From Collectspace.com: Orbiter Discovery, now in retirement, is scheduled for a ferry flight from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to Dulles Airport in suburban Washington D. C. on April 17. The Smithsonian Institution plans a welcoming ceremony. Discovery will be placed on public display by the National Air and Space Museum. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-022812a.html
7. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA evaluates its propulsion system options for a early test flights of the Space Launch System, the heavy lifter under development for future human deep space exploration missions. Tight budgets are a factor, especially when it comes to choosing an upper stage engine for test fights scheduled for 2017 and 2021. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1202/27slsupperstage/
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