CSExtra – Monday, March 4, 2013
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world: NASA flight controllers deal with a computer glitch on the Mars Curiosity rover. Los Angeles investor Dennis Tito’s plans for a bold 2018 mission to Mars face may face a cost challenge. U. S. X-15 flights from a half century ago pay new dividends. Japan readies a robot for International Space Station duty. China touts a “green” future space station, and Europe looks at partner opportunities. Within days, a recently discovered comet could be visible shortly after sunset. A look at the U. S. sequester impact on civil space programs. An editorial endorses a Congressional bid to reform NASA budgeting and management. The lure of extraterrestrial life. SpaceX reaches the International Space Station with its latest Dragon resupply capsule on Sunday, overcoming post-launch difficulties. A look at major space activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From The Pasadena Star-News, of California, March 1: NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover slips into “safe mode” following a computer malfunction.
A. From CBS News, Feb. 28: NASA’s Mars Curiosity team deals with a computer glitch, perhaps triggered by radiation exposure, that interrupts the flow of science data. Operations were restored with a change to a backup computer.
2. From U. S. News and World Report, March 1: Los Angeles financier Dennis Tito’s bold plan for a Mars mission that would send two people around the red planet after a 2018 launch draws praise from Mars Society president Robert Zubrin. The biggest obstacle will be raising the money, said Zubrin. Zubrin places the odds for success at one in three.
3. From Space.com, March 1: The U. S. X-15 flights of the late 1950s-early 60s are paying new dividends, as the FAA and other researchers look at possible health issues confronting an emerging suborbital space launch industry.
4. From the Asahi Shinbum, of Japan, March 2: The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to dispatch a robot to the International Space Station this summer. Developed by Japanese industrial and academic researchers, “Kirobo” stands just under two feet tall.
5. From Xinhuanet.com, of China, March 2: China plans a “green” space station, which it expects to assemble by 2020. The orbital base will host cutting edge technologies in areas that include power and waste recycling — not unlike the International Space Station.
A. From Space.com: Europe may contribute to China’s space station assembly in exchange for opportunities to send astronauts.
6. From The Coalition for Space Exploration, March 2: The comet 2011 L4 (PANSTARRS), discovered nearly two years ago, becomes visible this month. The comet likely originated in the Oort cloud and is a remnant of the solar system’s planet forming process. Around March 12, it should be visible to the naked eye.
A. From YouTube: A primer on PANSTARRS. Comets can offer surprises.
B. From Sky and Telescope, March 2 : Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) appears on a trajectory that will take it close to Mars in late October of 2014. Some calculate a 1 in 10,000 chance of a collision.
7. From Spacepolitics.com, March 2: The White House and Congress bend to a March 1 budget sequester. Space politics examines the impact on NASA and its major programs. Efforts by NASA to establish a commercial U. S. capability to launch astronauts will be affected, though by how much depends on whether the funding losses are compared to the current 2012 Continuing Resolution, or the proposed 2013 budget that was never passed.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com, March 2: NASA faces an $896 million funding cut in response to the budget sequester.
B. From The Washington Post, March 3: Efforts to develop new U. S. weather satellites appear at deeper risk because of sequestration.
C. From Politico. March 1: The Sequester arrives. Among the impacts: fewer Hurricane forecasters for the season that starts June 1.
8. From The Houston Chronicle, March 1: In an editorial, the Chronicle endorses Congressional efforts to pass the Space Leadership Preservation Act, with its provisions that would exempt NASA from traditional budget cycle; establish a six-year appointment period for the agency’s administrator; and establish a politically appointed board of directors.
9. From Xinhuanet.com, of China, March 3: China’s aims to complete a rival to the U. S. GPS navigational system by 2020. BeiDou already counts 16 operational satellites.
10. From The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 3: Alien life and extraterrestrial intelligence: why is the search so compelling?
11. Spaceflightnow.com, March 3: The SpaceX Dragon commercial re-supply craft launched on Friday overcomes a serious thruster issue to berth with the International Space Station early Sunday. Though a day later than originally planned, the berthing of the capsule is quickly followed by hatch opening and access by the ISS crew. The fast paced activities place the SpaceX mission back on schedule.
A. From AmericaSpace.com, March 3: Space station astronauts accelerate the grapple of the SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule.
12. From Spacepolicyonline.com: March 3: A look major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
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