CSExtra – Monday, November 19, 2012
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world, including a roundup from the weekend. U. S., Japanese and Russian astronauts land safety in Kazakhstan late Sunday, concluding a four month mission to the International Space Station. NASA’s top management and performance challenges topped by the agency’s human spaceflight ambitions. New directors named for NASA’s Johnson Space Center and Glenn Research Center. Blunting an asteroid threat. Who will lead the House Science, Space and Technology Committee? SpaceX deals with the engine failure and other problems that arose during its October cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station. China launches an environmental monitoring satellite. At the University of Colorado, scientists eagerly prepare for the next NASA Mars mission. A look at major space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From CBS News and Spaceflightnow.com, Nov. 18: Astronauts Sunita Williams, of NASA; Akihiko Hoshide, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; and Yuri Malenchenko, of Russia; descend to Earth late Sunday, ending a 127 day mission to the International Space Station. It was Monday in the pre-dawn at the landing zone in Kazakhstan, where temperatures hovered just above 0 Fahrenheit on the freshly fallen snow.
A. From Florida Today, Nov. 16: Prior to the Soyuz crew’s departure, flight controllers in the U. S. and Russia plan for a maneuver of the International Space Station to avoid a piece of orbital debris, then stand down. Tracking in the hours before the maneuver indicated the unidentified piece of debris would miss, though at a close distance.
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Nov. 16: Human spaceflight tops a list of five management and performance challenges facing NASA as 2012 winds down. The space agency, like the rest of the federal government, faces budget uncertainties, including the “fiscal cliff” as it moves ahead with plans to foster a commercial crew orbital transportation capability and the propulsion and capsule for future deep space missions. The “issues” list was prepared by NASA’s inspector general.
3. On Friday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden names replacements for directors of the Johnson Space Center and Glenn Research Center.
A. From The Houston Chronicle, Nov. 16: Ellen Ochoa, a former astronaut, is named director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, succeeding Mike Coats. Coats retires on Dec. 31, after seven years in the post. Ochoa, the first Hispanic appointed as Johnson’s director, has been the center’s deputy director since 2007. She’s an electrical engineer and patent holder. Coats was among the first class of shuttle astronauts selected by NASA in 1978, a Navy aviator and a one time aerospace company executive.
B. From The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Nov. 16: At NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Ray Lugo retires as director after two years. His replacement is Jim Free, the deputy director for the past year. Free is a propulsion engineer who has participated in the development of the Orion/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle. .
4. From Discovery.com: Blunting an asteroid headed for the Earth will require an arsenal of options. If there is little notice, the best option may be nuclear. Scientists look for the best approach to plant a bomb in an impactor.
5. From Spacepolitics.com: The website finds Texas Congressman Lamar Smith the leading candidate to chair the House Science, Space and Technology committee, a panel with NASA oversight. The contenders include James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Dana Rohrabacher of California. Texan Ralph Hall is stepping down under term limitation rules.
6. From Spaceflightnow.com: A look at SpaceX and the company’s plans for future launches supporting NASA’s re-supply needs at the International Space Station and other customers in the aftermath of the first stage engine loss that accompanied a Falcon 9 launch. The Falcon 9′s primary payload, a Dragon re-supply capsule, reached the International Space Station. An Orbcomm secondary payload did not. An investigation into the engine loss is under way.
7. From Rianovosti, of Russian, Nov. 19: Russia’s federal space agency calls for the dismissal of a space official over the misuse of funds in the development of the country’s Glonass space navigation system.
8. From Xinhuanet of China, Nov. 19: China announces the launching of an environmental monitoring satellite. The radar sat completes a small constellation of spacecraft.
9. From The Daily Camera of Boulder, Colo., Nov. 17: Scientists at the University of Colorado look to the launch of NASA’s next Mars mission, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN spacecraft. The $671 million mission is focused on the story of changes in the planet’s atmosphere.
10. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Nov. 18: A look at major space policy related events scheduled for the week ahead.
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