CSExtra – Wednesday, July 10, 2013
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. In Washington, U. S. House appropriators consider a $16.6 billion budget for NASA in 2014, a reduction of more than $900 million. Following consultations with scientific and engineering experts, NASA envisions a second Curiosity mission, this one launched in 2020 to look for evidence of past life on Mars. U. S. and Italian astronauts conduct a successful spacewalk outside the International Space Station. NASA considers a more ambitious un-piloted test flight of the Orion/Space Launch System in 2017. Members of the U. S. House from Texas and Maryland urge lawmakers to designate the Apollo mission lunar landing sites as a historical national park. Ball Aerospace joins with NASA to develop a “green” spacecraft propellant. A European satellite goes into storage while Russia investigates the July 2 loss of a Proton rocket. Russians grow cynical about the spectacular mishap.
1. From Space News: In the U. S. House, appropriators will markup a $16.6 billion, 2014 spending measure for NASA, $928 million less than the 2013 appropriation. The White House budget request for the 2014 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 was $17.7 billion, a figure that rolled back the impact of sequestration. The reduced House measure would keep NASA on track to complete Orion and Space Launch System flight program milestones, according to Space News.
2. From CBS News: NASA aims for a 2020 mission featuring a second Curiosity style rover that will look for evidence of past bio markers on Mars. Translation: Curiosity 2 will look for evidence that Mars harbored life in the past. Samples of the Martian terrain will be cached for eventual return to Earth, where an in-depth mineral and chemical analysis of the samples would be carried out. The strategy addresses recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, according to the space agency.
A. From CNN: NASA looks to 2020 for the launch of a second Curiosity rover, this one designed to extract and cache 31 core samples from the surface that could reveal evidence of past Martian life. The cache would be gathered at some point, either by a robot probe or human explorers, and returned to Earth for analysis. Plans for the sample return are to be determined.
B. From Nature News: A 19 member “science definition team” develops the Mars core sampling strategy that NASA will further assess.
C. From Space News: NASA’s leadership will study the science definition team report on a Curiosity 2 mission and seek competitive proposals for instruments that would meet the objective of determining whether Mars once hosted some form of life. A NASA instrument solicitation may come forth this fall.
D. From USA Today: NASA will rely on engineering and development work for the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars in August 2012 to reduce the 2020 mission cost.
E. From The Los Angeles Times: NASA’s 2020 Curiosity 2 mission seeks to ramp up the wider search for life beyond the Earth.
3. From AmericaSpace.com: U. S. and Italian spacewalkers Chris Cassidy and Luca Parmitano prepared the International Space Station for the arrival of a Russian science module later this year and made other upgrades to fend off power and cooling system problems. Parmitano, of the European Space Agency, becomes the first Italian to walk in space.
A. From The Los Angeles Times: Italy celebrates the first spacewalk by one of its own.
4. From Universe Today: NASA planners look to possible changes to Exploration Mission-1, the unpiloted 2017 first combined flight test of the Orion capsule and Space Launch System rocket. EM-1 changes under consideration would support plans for a 2021 piloted test of the Orion/Space Launch System that would launch astronauts toward an encounter with an asteroid robotically captured and corralled into lunar orbit. The EM-1 mission would be extended from 10 to 25 days for more elaborate testing. A decision on the more aggressive EM-1 test plan should come later this year, the website reports.
5. From The Hill: Democratic members of the U. S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee propose legislation that would establish the Apollo mission landing sites on the moon as a national historical park. NASA and the Department of the Interior would supervise. U. S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, of Texas, and U. S. Rep. Donna Edwards, of Maryland, sponsor the measure out of concerns that future commercial space activities on the moon might encroach on the six landing sites.
6. From The Denver Post: NASA teams with Boulder aerospace contractor Ball Aerospace to develop environmentally friendly rocket propellants. Ball’s propellant would be an alternative to toxic hydrazine. A 2015 test flight is planned.
7. From Spaceflightnow.com: A European satellite goes into storage while Russian investigators unravel the causes of a spectacular July 2 Proton rocket explosion. The venerable Proton was carrying three Russian space navigation system satellites — all lost in the mishap.
A. From Bloomberg.com: Russians look cynically at the July 2 Proton explosion with three satellites for the country’s troubled GLONASS global navigation system.
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