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Tuesday’s CSExtra finds Congressional auditors convinced NASA has done nothing wrong in its Constellation Program spending this year. However, NASA’s Kepler mission has touched off a storm over its search for Earth-like planets. More debate over NASA’s future. Early Tuesday, Spacewalking cosmonauts equip the International Space Station’s newest module, Rassvet, with an automated docking system. Spacewalk updates at www.spaceflightnow.com
1. From the Orlando Sentinel: The General Accountability Office sides with NASA in a report Monday that responded to allegations in Congress and outside the agency that it illegally by slowing spending on the Constellation Program to protect termination expenses.
A. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA is actually spending more this year on Constellation than in 2009, 2008.
B. From Florida Today: Politics rather than sound engineering is likely to determine how much NASA turns to the commercial companies for space transportation services.
2. From news.com.au: The web site reports NASA Kepler Mission images of the Milky Way suggest there are millions of Earth-like planets around neighboring stars.
A. From the Science Insider: News of the Kepler find emerges during unauthorized presentation at the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, England in July.
B. From Space.com: Not so fast on the Earth-like planets. The website reports that not more than 100 possible Earth-like planets have been discovered by the planet-hunting space telescope, and those are just candidates. Mission scientists are still reviewing the findings.
C. From the Houston Chronicle: NASA may face a public relations problem over Kepler and limited access to headline making findings about Earth-like planets.
3. Two from Monday’s Space Review:
A. “In Recasting the Debate about Commercial Crew”: Editor Jeff Foust suggests the debate over NASA’s future is stalled on the debate over the future of commercial crew space transportation services. The White House is seeking $3.3 billion over three years in NASA backing. Recent Senate and House authorization measures seek $1.3 billion and $450 million respectively over the same period. The House measure, though is primarily in loans and loan guarantees. Without a healthy government investment, the commercial companies will not be able to close a business case, Foust writes. Commercial advocates may have to re-frame the already lengthy debate over the issue, he concludes.
B. “In A New Debate, Part 2″: Bob Clarebrough, who specializes in the history of innovation from England, sees a NASA ripe for change. If the agency is to be successful in its current structure, it will need four basic conditions: A compelling vision; continuity over presidential administrations; steady adequate funding; and strong leadership. That said, Clarebrough makes the case for a more commercially oriented NASA with a strong commitment to safety.
4. From WLPN public radio of Nashville: A look at Bart Gordon, the Tennessee Congressman who serves as chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, which like its Senate counterpart is challenging the President’s plans for NASA. Gordon characterizes the White House vision for NASA as just as unsustainable as the Constellation Program the President wishes to cancel.
5. From the New York Times: The methane lakes on Titan, the moon of Saturn, recede under the watchful eye of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The Earth and Titan are the only bodies in the solar system known to have surface liquids of some sort. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/science/space/27titan.html?scp=2&sq=NASA&st=cse
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