CSExtra – Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover and Orion crew capsule join President Obama’s inaugural parade in Washington. Scientists involved in NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission opens its exo-planet archive to the world. Humans or robots, when it comes to the exploration of space? Is NASA embracing new risk as it turns to global and commercial partnerships to extend its reach into space. Launch pad safety hardware from the shuttle program finds a home in a North Carolina museum. New competition comes to the asteroid mining business.
1. From spaceflightnow.com: Monday’s inaugural parade in Washington included replicas of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover and the Orion deep space crew capsule. Curiosity landed with great fanfare in Gale Crater on Mars in early August. Orion is under development to start astronauts on future deep space missions. Parade floats shouldering the hardware were accompanied by NASA astronauts.
2. From Space.com: NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission opens up its data archives of candidate alien worlds to the entire world. Look for the “NASA Exo-planet Archive” on the Internet. Previously, the data was unveiled after a lengthy planet confirmation process.
A. From Discovery.com: NASA’s Kepler space telescope enters a “safe mode,” while engineers troubleshoot the source of friction in the momentum wheels that help aim the observatory.
3. Two essays from The Space Review reprise the long running debate over the role of humans and robots in the exploration of space, while assessing NASA’s recent embrace of international and private sector partnerships to advance the space frontier.
A. In “Cargo cult exploration,” essayist Dan Lester suggests the National Research Council raise the issues of robots vs. humans as the Congressionally chartered think tank examines the future role in human space exploration. Machines have become increasingly capable of addressing exploration with human cognition, notes Lester, a University of Texas astronomer
B. In “The benefits (and limitations) of space partnerships,” TSR editor Jeff Foust notes a pair of NASA announcements last week, one placing the European Space Agency in the critical path of NASA’s Orion deep space capsule with the contribution of at least one and possibly two service modules during the spacecraft’s test phase. The second places a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable module aboard the International Space Station for engineering evaluations and a possible deep space role. Budgets and commercial markets to support the two activities are unclear. “…even well-intentioned partnerships have limitations,” Foust cautions.
4. From The Charlotte Observer, of North Carolina: The Carolina Aviation Museum will inherit the slide wire basket launch pad evacuation apparatus that was a part of NASA’s long running shuttle program. Not all the risks faced by shuttle crews accompanied flight.
5. From Space.com: Deep Space Ventures, a new commercial entity, plans to enter the asteroid mining business. Planetary Resources sketched out a business plan in 2012.
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