CSExtra – Monday, January 7, 2013
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world, plus a roundup from the first weekend of 2013. Is the U. S. commercial sector igniting a new era of enthusiasm for human space exploration? China may be preparing a new anti-satellite weapons test, warns one expert. The French exo-planet hunting mission, CoRoT, confronts a significant on board failure. NASA’s Curiosity rover prepares for use of a percussive drill to study a rock sample. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft exposes a huge crater on Vesta in 3-D. India pares back an ambitious Mars mission. Checking in with former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. A new National Archives exhibit examines Nixon Administration space policy. A look at major space policy related activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From National Geographic, January editions. The magazine finds a new enthusiasm in the U.S. for space exploration emerging in the private sector, with SpaceX and Planetary Resources among the examples. “We’re going to look back at this decade as the dawn of the commercial space age,” Mason Peck, NASA’s chief technologist, tells the publication. “It’s about companies large and small finding ways to make a market out of space. The energy we see now — the economic motivation to go into space — we haven’t seen that before.”
A. From The Albuquerque Journal, of New Mexico, Jan. 6: Though Virgin Galactic will settle first at Spaceport America in New Mexico to offer suborbital passenger flights, the company will look to other global bases of operation as well. As many as six nations could host Virgin Galactic flight operations, the newspaper reports.
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Jan. 4: China may be preparing for a controversial ASAT test, warns an expert with the U. S. Union of Concerned Scientists. China’s 2007 test generate global protests after it produced more than 3,000 pieces of space debris, a threat to other spacecraft, including the six member International Space Station.
A. From Spacepolitics.com, Jan. 4: The U. S. Defense Authorization Act of 2013, signed into law by President Obama last week, restricts the reach of any future global space code of conduct. The language is intended to ensure that a code would not restrict U. S. activities in outer space and that it would “have no militarily significant impact on the ability of the United States to conduct military or intelligence activities in space.”
3. From Spaceflightnow.com, Jan. 4: In France, scientists say their CoRoT mission to identify exo-planets is in jeopardy. The spacecraft, launched six years ago, suffered a science instrument failure in early November, apparently in response to radiation.
4. From The Coalition for Space Exploration, Jan. 6: On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is close to using a percussive drill. The tool will gather powder from inside a Martian rock for analysis by instruments on the mobile science lab.
A. From MSNBC.com, Jan. 4: Amateur photographers pour over imagery from Mars gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Their efforts reveal an odd looking feature on a Martian rock.
5. From Space.com, Jan. 4: 3-D images from NASA’s Dawn mission expose a giant crater on the large asteroid Vesta. Cornelia Crater is nine miles wide.
6. From The Indian Express, Jan. 6: India pares back the science payload on the Mars mission it plans to launch in mid-October. However, the proposed payload will include a sensor for methane, a gas whose sources could range from biological activity to volcanism.
A. From The Indian Express, Jan. 6: India looks to late 2013 to begin construction of the world’s largest solar observatory atop Ladakh.
7. From The New York Times, Jan. 5: The Times checks in with former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly now leads Gabby PAC, a political action committee formed as his wife recovers from a 2011 assassination attempt. The PAC is focused on the election of moderate political candidates and civil discourse.
A. From USA Today, Jan. 4: Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly visit with community leaders in Newtown, Conn., site of a mid-December shooting rampage that claimed the lives of 26 school children and adults.
8. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post, Jan. 7: The National Archives opens a new exhibit featuring the Nixon Administration’s U.S. space aspirations. Easing Cold War tensions was a goal.
9. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Jan. 6: A look at space policy related activities scheduled for the week ahead.
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