CSExtra – Wednesday, July 3, 2013
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. In Russia, a tense investigation gets under way into the July 2 loss of a Proton rocket moments after lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Astronomers greatly increase estimates of Milky Way planets with conditions suitable for life. Two recently discovered moons of Pluto receive names. NASA says agency astronauts will participate in test flights launched by Commercial Crew Program partners. NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, mother of a 3-year-old son, juggles profession, marriage and child rearing. In the U. S., Congress ponders a NASA re-authorization measure, prompting anew the debate over the future of human space exploration. Dust: an issue for future lunar explorers. A hard fought technology advance at NASA could lower launch costs.
1. From Ria Novosti, of Russia: The July 2 loss of a Proton rocket prompts another investigation into the Russian Federal Space Agency and its contractors. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev appoints a government commission to examine the causes, complete with a list of responsible officials. The Proton is a major player in Russian commercial space launch activities.
A. From Space News: Investigators look to a possible first stage failure of the Proton. If correct, other variants of the Proton could be affected by mission delays as well.
B. From The Los Angeles Times: Russia’s Proton rocket failure will not affect planned launches of the Russian Soyuz rocket with crew transports and cargo carriers bound for the International Space Station, according to William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in a statement.
C. From Discovery.com: The impact of Russia’s July 2 Proton rocket failure on Euro-Mars, a cooperative effort led by the European Space Agency to find evidence of current or past microbial life on Mars, is unclear. Russia and Europe are partnered in the venture.
D. From Itar-Tass, of Russia: Initial tests for toxic propellant residue from a failed Proton across Baikonur turn up negative.
E. From National Public Radio, of Washington: Russia’s latest Proton failure could have consequences for Russia’s commercial space endeavors, a U. S. expert predicts.
2. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: Astronomers suggest the Milky Way Galaxy may host as many as 60 billion planets with conditions favorable for biological activity.
3. From Universe Today: The International Astronomical Union chooses Kerberos and Styx as the official names for Pluto’s recently discovered moons. Vulcan, a favorite of Star Trek fans, fails to make the cut.
A. From Wired.com: An Internet poll influences the IAU’s choice of names for the two most recently discovered moons of Pluto.
B. From Xinhuanet, of China: Newly named moons of Pluto, Kerberos and Styx, join three previously discovered moons, Charon, Nix and Hydra.
4. From Space News: NASA intends to include the agency’s astronauts in test flights of the vehicles developed by Commercial Crew Program partners.
A. From Florida Today: SpaceX, one of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners, prepares for a pair of launch abort tests from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The milestone flight test flights could begin late this year, or early next.
5. From The New York Times: NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, now serving on board the International Space Station, becomes a cooperative focus on women dealing with demanding dream jobs and motherhood.
6. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: NASA is up for re-authorization in Congress, its first legislative policy review in three years. The process, coupled with limited budgets, has opened anew the debate over the direction of U. S. space initiatives. The choices are orbital activities at the International Space Station or deep space exploration, notes one space veteran.
7. From The Los Angeles Times: Land in the wrong place on the moon and your spacecraft will become covered in dust, according to a presentation before the Royal Astronomical Society in Scotland. The dust threat, assessed with computer simulations, occurs in the electrical charged environment at the lunar terminator. Apollo crews found the lunar dust an unexpected problem.
8. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: NASA’s investments in a light weight composite tank for super cold propellants begin to bear fruit. In the past, a failed effort to develop a composite over an aluminum alloy tank sank NASA’s single-stage-to-orbit experiment with the X-33. Now, advances may help to reduce launch costs.
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