CSExtra – Wednesday, October 17, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA’s Kepler space telescope, filled with promise for finding Earth-like worlds around distant stars, is vulnerable to a pointing system problem. Astronomers find the closest exo-planet yet, a world slightly larger than the Earth. A top House appropriator sounds an alarm for the damage sequestration poses to agencies like NASA. The National Research Council urges the Pentagon to hold off on full scale development of a reusable booster system for future national security missions. Climate models that track changing conditions on Mars are credible for the Earth, say astronomers. In Europe, experts from France and Italy favor a solid motor approach to a successor to the Ariane V commercial launcher. NASA research creates an “exo-skeleton” that may improve mobility for the paralyzed. NASA’s commercial crew space transportation partners make propulsion system strides. The Orionid meteor shower peaks this weekend.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA’s exo-planet hunting Kepler Space Telescope faces engineering and scientific challenges as it attempts to fulfill a mission goal of identifying Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones of distant stars. The difficulties could bring the far reaching mission to a halt at any point, with lots of data from Kepler still to be processed. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1210/16kepler/
2. From The Los Angeles Times: Astronomers announce the discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb, the closest planet to our solar system found so far. The find, described in the journal Nature, is slightly larger than the Earth. However, the alien world is much too close to its star, Alpha Centauri B, for biological activity. Nonetheless, experts believe it may have sibling worlds, perhaps places in a habitable zone, where life as we know it could flourish. Astronomers made the discovery using the European Southern Observatory in Chile. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-exoplanet-20121017,0,6008621.story
3. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee has a warning: Sequestration will take an economic toll on non-Defense as well as Defense programs, jeopardizing agencies like NASA and NOAA. The spending cuts required under Sequestration are set to take effect on Jan. 2, if Congress and the White House do not agree on another strategy. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/top-democratic-house-appropriator-warns-about-sequestration
4. From Space News: A National Research Council panel finds a poor business case for a U. S. defense initiative to develop a Reusable Booster System to lower the cost of launching future national security payloads. The panel urges the U. S. Air Force to pursue key technology development efforts. http://www.spacenews.com/military/report-questions-cost-savings-air-force-reusable-booster-plan.html
5. From Reuters/Thompson: Astronomers vouch for a computer climate model that accurately predicted conditions on Mars. They are just as applicable for Earth, according to the scientists gathered for an American Astronomical Society meeting in Reno, Nevada. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/16/us-climate-mars-idUSBRE89F1J120121016
6. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: In Europe, a debate over a successor to the costly Ariane 5 commercial launcher heats up. Experts in France and Italy favor a solid rocket motor approach to the Ariane 6. ESA’s top leadership meets next month to plot future spending priorities. http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_10_15_2012_p26-505016.xml
7. From The Washington Post: NASA research creates an exo-skeleton that could improve the mobility of paraplegics. The X1 suit is the result of a collaboration between NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). The initial project was aimed at improving the physical conditioning of astronauts. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/post/tony-stark-may-be-fiction-but-this-iron-man-type-suit-from-nasa-is-the-real-deal-video/2012/10/16/440add54-17c0-11e2-9855-71f2b202721b_blog.html
8. From Flightinternational.com: Blue Origin, the private space company, achieves a propulsion milestone in its bid to develop a commercial crew orbital space transportation system. http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/blue-origin-completes-full-power-tests-on-thruster-for-orbital-vehicle-377721/
A. From The Huntsville Times: United Launch Alliance makes strides in the human rating of the Atlas V rocket. Several companies partnered with NASA are looking to the Atlas V as a propulsion source for their commercial human orbital space transportation systems. http://blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2012/10/united_launch_alliance_complet.html
9. From Space.com via CBSNews.com: The Orionids, a meteor shower linked to Halley’s Comet, peaks by week’s end. Expect the peak in the hours before dawn on Sunday — where skies are clear. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57533405/meteor-shower-from-halleys-comet-peaks-this-week/?tag=mncol;lst;5
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