CSExtra – Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, will be recognized posthumously later this year with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony. A comprehensive report on the promise of the U.S. commercial space sector. An op-ed challenge to the rationale behind NASA’s proposed mission to corral an asteroid. On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover bores into a second rock in search of clues to the planet’s environmental past. Essays assess the Kepler mission’s future and offer a possible look at the future of U. S. sponsored human space exploration. Reaction wheels: can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Great Britain gets an astronaut. Is Washington ducking NASA? More space prizes brewing. The Kansas Cosmosphere places cleanup of salvaged Saturn V F-1 rocket engines on public display. United Paradyne Corp., a California satellite fueling company, joins a growing commercial lineup at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
1. From Spacepolicyonline.com: President Obama will posthumously recognize Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom later this year. On Monday night, Ride was honored for her contributions to science and science education at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Ride died of cancer last year. She was 61.
2. From New York Magazine: Across the U. S., pioneering companies are winding up for a new commercial space age. The magazine provides a who’s who of those racing to get America back into the human launch and space travel business following the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program.
3. From Space News: In an op-ed, Mars Society president Robert Zubrin takes issue with NASA’s proposed asteroid retrieval mission, a feature of President Obama’s proposed 2014 budget. Claims the mission offers a stepping stone to Mars as well as potential technologies for diverting an asteroid bearing down on the Earth deserve Congressional scrutiny, writes Zubrin.
4. From Space.com: NASA’s Curiosity rover bores into a Martian rock for a second time. The drilling, scientists anticipate, may offer further clues of the planet’s past environmental conditions. Curiosity touched down in August for a two year primary mission.
5. Two essays from The Space Review assess news of Kepler space telescope troubles and the future of U. S. human space exploration.
A. In “Kepler’s uncertain future,” TSR editor Jeff Foust examines the response to news that one of NASA’s most popular activities, the 4-year-old Kepler mission in search of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way galaxy, has encountered a major technical problem. Mission managers urge supporters not to give up hope for a recovery over time. The mission has logged more than 2,700 ex-planet candidates and 132 confirmations.
B. In “Futures Imperfect,” frequent contributor Dwayne Day looks to popular cinema as a crystal ball for possible outcomes to the current debate over the future of U. S. human space exploration. Look to Gravity, the story of two people stranded on a space station; Elysian, the tale of an Earth that becomes a refuge for the poorest while space becomes the destination of the wealthiest and smartest; and Europa Report, the story of a human mission beneath the icy shell of an ocean covered Jovian moon.
6. From New York Times: The rapidly turning small “reaction wheels” that aim and steady the Kepler Space Telescope are a test of technology. Two reaction wheel failures on the Kepler space telescope leave the observatory one wheel short of the ability to scan distant stars for planets.
A. From Discovery.com: Potential Kepler mission options if at least one of two inoperable reaction wheels cannot be re-started.
7. From Astronomy Now: European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake, of England, earns an assignment to a six month mission aboard the International Station in 2015. In his homeland, sponsors hope Peake’s flight will spur a resurgence of interest in science and technology.
8. From The Houston Chronicle: Washington’s poor track record for handing NASA challenging assignments but failing to fund them adequately continues.
9. From Space.com: A tip from the X-Prize Foundation: more prizes for advances in space exploration are in the offering. The foundation sponsored the $10 million X-prize won in 2004 by the SpaceShipOne development team and a second prize to spur robotic exploration of the moon.
10. From Collectspace.com: A look behind the scenes at the Kansas Cosmosphere as experts clean the F-1 rocket engines recovered from the first stage of a NASA Saturn V moon rocket. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos funded the efforts to salvage the engines from the Atlantic Ocean. They clean up efforts go on public display this week at the Cosmosphere.
11. From Florida Today. At the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, United Paradyne Corp. begins a 15-year lease of facilities once used to service space shuttle thrusters.
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