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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Late Saturday brings a “Super Moon.” United Launch Alliance looks to a mid-afternoon attempt Friday to launch an Atlas V with a military communications satellite. Boeing’s CST-100 Commercial Crew capsule carries out a landing systems test. Greenland’s melting ice pack worrisome but not dire. SpaceX founder Elon Musk predicts he’ll orbit the Earth in five years. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity spots a rock formation resembling a terrestrial water feature. Newt Gingrich drops out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, but vows to speak more on his moon colony proposal. Canadian aerospace company to remain in Canadian hands.
1. From Discovery.com: Just a reminder. Earthlings are in store for a “Super Moon” on Saturday. The moon will appear larger because it’s reached its closest point to Earth of the year at the same time its entering the full phase.
A. From Space.com: The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak around the “Super Moon”.
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: United Launch Alliance plans a second attempt to launch at Atlas V with a military communications satellite from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Friday at 2:42 p.m., EDT. Thursday’s launch attempt was scrubbed by ground support equipment problem. See updates.
3. From Wired.com: Boeing’s CST-100, the seven person capsule the company is developing under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development initiative, underwent tests of its parachute and airbag landing systems in the Nevada desert this week. The testing involved a drop from a helicopter hovering at 14,000 feet.
4. From the Associated Press via the Washington Post: The melting of Greenland’s ice pack has accelerated, but not at the dire pace some predicted. “So it’s not good news, but it’s not bad news,” said one researcher. The work was supported by satellite based observations.
5. From MSNBC’s Cosmic Log: SpaceX founder Elon Musk predicts he’ll be a commercial passenger on his own orbital spacecraft, the Dragon, within five years. His remarks came as part of a web chat organized by the Associated Press on Thursday. In the meantime, his company is attempting to launch the first U. S. commercial supply mission to the International Space Station using a cargo version of the Dragon. Plans for a May 7 lift off were postponed for more flight software verification. A new launch date will be announced with days, Musk tells chat participants.
6. From Space.com: NASA’s long running Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has spotted rock formations typically created by water moving over rocks on the Earth — formations that might shelter Martian life.
7. From Spacepolitics.com: One time Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich officially bowed out of contention this week. Gringrich famously raised space policy as an issue during the Florida primary earlier this year by proposing a future moon colony. As he formally dismissed himself from presidential contention, Gingrich said he plans to re-visit the space policy debate.
8. From Space News: Canadian aerospace company MDA finds itself in a business pinch. The Canadian government blocked a prospective sale to an American company in 2008, yet the government has failed to produce the investments the company needs for financial growth. Nonetheless, a top executive says the company will remain Canadian owned.
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