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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. In Florida, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich looks to a human moon base as part of a strategy to revive America’s vision. Russia successfully launches the first International Space Station re-supply mission of 2012. NASA presents startling images of the “blue marble” from a new Earth observing spacecraft. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity marks its eighth year of operations this week. Russia pursues a Mars mission failure investigation without the help it sought from the U. S.
1. From Spacepolicyonline.com: Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gringrich unveils his space vision during a campaign stop on Florida’s space coast. The former House speaker pledges a permanently staffed moon base by the end of his second term, or about 2020. The science, space tourism and manufacturing communities will flourish in Earth orbit, Gingrich promises a Cocoa Beach audience. The candidate also looks to propulsion technologies that would drastically reduce the travel time to Mars. Florida’s primary is scheduled for Jan. 31.
A. From POLITICO.com: Gringrich embraces a “visionary” high ground with his plans for a lunar base and insistence they be established ahead of Russian or Chinese settlements.
B. From Florida Today: Gringrich says he will shake up NASA’s bureaucracy and commit 10 percent of the agency’s budget to prizes that will spur technical innovation. Once the moon achieves a colony of 13,000, it could be eligible for statehood, according to the candidate’s plans.
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: Russia’s first Progress re-supply mission to the International Space Station lifts off late Wednesday. The Progress 46 spacecraft is on track to dock late Friday.
3. From USA Today: NASA’s National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) satellite was re-named Wednesday for the father of satellite meteorology, Verner Suomie. Launched in October, NPOESS is a test bed for sensors that will be assigned to future weather and climate observing spacecraft. Suomie NPP has also taken some “blue marble” images of the Earth.
4. From the Huffington Post: NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity marks its eighth anniversary on Mars this week. Opportunity has uncovered evidence supporting an ancient climate on Mars that was warmer, wetter and more conductive to life than the cold dry conditions of the present.
5. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Russia’s federal space agency says NASA declined to participate in testing to determine whether U. S. radar led to the recent demise of the Phobos-Grunt mission. The probe, stranded in Earth orbit following an early November lift off, was to retrieve soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. A formal report on the causes of the mission loss is expected next week. Some say the Russian finger pointing is to cover their own mistakes.
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