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Monday’s CSExtra offers a roundup of space-related news from the weekend as well as a look at the activities anticipated in the week ahead. Discovery began her last visit to the International Space Station as the six shuttle astronauts docked on Saturday for a week of construction work and cargo exchanges. Monday’s station activities feature the first of two spacewalks. Discovery’s last flight is generating a lot of interest in NASA’s future, as well as reflection. In Washington, Congress debates the 2011 budget. The current Continuing Resolution, which locks spending at 2010 levels, expires March 4. Discovery’s flight is unlikely to be affected. In order to limit spending, NASA cuts to climate research missions. Las Vegas businessman Bob Bigelow looks to a new venture, inflatable space stations. Life is surely elsewhere in the universe, we just have to know how to search, say astrobiologists. Russia launches a navigation satellite. Solar activity continues to increase. Two in Florida are convicted in a NASA fraud case.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, Feb. 28: Discovery astronauts Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen are to begin a six-hour spacewalk at 11:18 a.m., EST. They will collect a failed coolant pump on the space station’s starboard truss and move it to a storage platform near the airlock. The pump stopped working in late July, causing an August power shortage on the station. The spacewalkers will prepare the big pump to be returned to Earth this summer aboard the shuttle Atlantis
A. From Space.com, Feb. 26: Discovery’s six astronauts dock with the International Space Station. The linkup brings spacecraft from Russia, Japan, Europe and the United States together at the station for the first time.
B. From the Houston Chronicle, Feb. 27: In an editorial, the Chronicle laments the imminent passing of the space shuttle program, urges NASA to resist the urge to start all over with a new program.
C. Space.com: Discovery’s astronauts and those of the International Space Station believe Discovery’s final trip to the International Space Station has a “special meaning”.
D. From NASAWatch.com, Feb. 25: A student experiment to photograph shuttle Discovery’s Feb. 24 launching with a high altitude balloon succeeds. The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was an experiment sponsor.
E. From the Associated Press via Houston Chronicle, Feb. 25: A January bicycle accident kept NASA astronaut Tim Kopra from flying aboard shuttle Discovery. Nonetheless, Kopra supported the training for his replacement, Steve Bowen, and is supporting the work of his crew mates from Mission Control.
F. From Florida Today, Feb. 26: Columnist John Kelly relishes the crowds of onlookers who gathered in Central Florida on Thursday for Discovery’s lift off. “Not only was that good for our economy, which could use a shot in the arm, but it just felt good to have that kind of buzz surrounding a big space event again,” he writes.
G. From Spaceflightnow.com. Feb. 28: At the Kennedy Space Center, another shuttle final flight is unfolding. The orbiter Endeavour is poised for the move from her Orbiter Processing Facility hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building, last stop before her move to Launch Pad 39A and a launch anticipated for April 19.
2. From the Washington Post, Feb. 25: An almost agency by agency look at what happens if the federal government shuts down on March 4, if Congress cannot agree on a new budget Continuing Resolution for 2011. During the 1995 shutdown, only 7 percent of those at NASA were deemed “essential” enough to remain on the job. A shutdown would likely include personnel preparing shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis for the program’s final flights. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/25/AR2011022504206_2.html
A. From Spacepolitics.com, Feb. 26: NASA’s Discovery mission is unlikely to be affected if the federal government shuts down on March 4. NASA is considering adding at least one day to the flight.
B. From Space News, Feb. 25: Budget pressures force NASA to stop work on two Earth science climate missions, the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) and Deformation, Ecosystem Structure and Dynamics of Ice (DESDynI) missions. Launching of the two missions was planned for 2017. Both missions were part of the National Research Council’s 2007 Earth Science decadal survey
C. From Space News, Feb. 25: Engineers find new issues with the development of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It’s the latest setback for the James Webb, whose launch date is slipping because of cost overruns.
3. From the Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 27: A look at Robert Bigelow, the Las Vegas businessman who is promising to change low Earth orbit into a commercial enterprise with the development of inflatable space stations for work and play. The owner of Budget Suites of America would like the first of his structures circling the Earth by 2016.
4. From the Washington Post, Feb. 27: A look at “Astrobiology,” the search for the origin of life on Earth and elsewhere in the universe. Experts in this new field believe life is out there — we just have to learn to recognize it.
5. From Ria Novosti, Feb. 26: Russia successfully launches a Glonass-K navigation system satellite from the Plesetsk space center. During a November launch of a similar spacecraft, the rocket veered off course, losing the spacecraft in the Pacific Ocean. Glonass is Russia’s response to the U.S. GPS system.
6. From Space.com, Feb. 26: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captures spectacular images as the sun unleashes a major solar flare on Thursday. Solar activity is increasing.
7. From Florida Today, Feb. 26: A former University of Florida professor and his wife face up to 20 years in prison following conviction on charges of presenting fraudulent statements and research information to NASA and the U.S. Air Force to obtain more than $3 million in contract monies.
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