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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA’s Kepler space telescope has pointing problems that cannot be overcome, ending the mission’s search for alien planets. Auditors find concerns with NASA’s Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle development strategy. NASA extends work with three Commercial Crew Program partners under current contract. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s mission. White House gaining solar panels. New evidence suggests Voyager left the solar system. The U. S. Suomi Earth observation satellite tracks a global dust ring created by the Feb. 15 meteor explosion over Russia. Russia falls out of India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission plans.
1. From The New York Times: The Kepler Space Telescope’s planet hunting days are over, NASA announces Thursday. In May, the observatory experienced a second reaction wheel failure. Equipped with four, Kepler needs three of the spinning wheels to meet precision pointing requirements. Launched in 2009, Kepler was tasked with identifying Earth-like planets circling distant stars. Much of the data Kepler gathered has yet to be processed. Kepler has discovered over 3,500 planet candidates. The announcement followed unsuccessful efforts to mount a recovery.
A. From The Los Angeles Times: Yet to be processed Kepler data likely includes evidence for an Earth like planet circling a sun like star in the habitable zone, according to Kepler project scientist William Borucki.
B. From National Geographic: Efforts by scientists to comb through Kepler data could take three to four years, said mission project scientist William Borucki, of NASA’s Ames Research Center.
C. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA seeks proposals for a secondary Kepler mission.
2. From Space News: NASA’s Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle development faces likely cost overruns and delays, according to the agency’s inspector general. Test flight milestones are in jeopardy. Without landers and bases, the U. S. cannot expect to land astronauts on other planetary bodies until the late 2020s at the earliest, according to IG Paul K. Martin.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com: Funding constraints are to blame for Orion development threats. Cuts imposed after the cancellation of the Bush Administration’s Constellation Program forced NASA to pursue an incremental rather than a parallel development strategy.
B. From USA Today: Orion drawing too little in funding, $1 billion annually for the foreseeable future, to address technical risks, according to NASA IG Paul K. Martin.
C. From The Orlando Sentinel: Costs risks faced by NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle as part of the previous administration’s Constellation Program have not been remedied, according to an audit from the space agency’s inspector general.
3. From Flight Global.com: NASA’s Commercial Crew Program expands the contract goals for its partners, SpaceX, the Boeing Co., and Sierra Nevada Corp. The additional price tag for the safety and performance oriented new duties is $55 million. The overall contract activities are to wrap up in 2014, or just before the Critical Design Review point.
4. From The Washington Post: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden explains President Obama’s directive to reach an asteroid with human explorers by 2025 and other issues facing the agency.
5. From The Houston Chronicle: In Washington, the White House is fitted with solar panels. A White House official described the move as part of a broader energy retrofit, designed to boost overall efficiency inside the historic building.
6. From Space.com: A new study suggests that NASA’s distant Voyager 1 spacecraft, entered interstellar space last year, a finding that not all experts agree on. Voyager and its twin traversed the outer solar system following their 1977 launches.
7. From The Washington Post: The U. S. Suomi National Polar Orbiting Partnership mission satellite tracked a global dust ring created by the powerful Feb. 15th bolide meteor explosion above Chelyabinsk, Russia. Much of the Earth’s northern hemisphere was draped by the thin dust cloud.
8. From Space News: Russia and India part ways as partners in India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission. Russia was to provide a lander, India the rocket launcher, an orbiter and a rover. Russia wished to increase the mass of its hardware to improve reliability. A new launch date for the 2013 mission is anticipated.
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