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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. ATK looks to high tech and experience to advance NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. Could the U.S. and China help one another in their space pursuits? China turns its space focus on the moon — for the moment. Space race goes global. On Friday, China’s Chang’e-3 moon lander mission settled into a temporary lunar orbit. U.S. House hearing on astrobiology draws wide interest. NASA scores with out of this world laser communications demonstration. Comet ISON update. Mirror segments for new Giant Magellan Telescope come together at University of Arizona. Late night television host Stephen Colbert presents Voyager mission scientist Ed Stone with NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal. The International Space Station turns 15. Space Station serves as CubeSat launch pad. NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg inspires. Russia leads in orbital debris. FAA rules in role of NASA astronauts on commercial space transportation missions. Russian Proton launches first satellite for new global communications network. The long reach of Orbital Sciences Corp. Tax incentives fuel Florida job growth in aftermath of shuttle retirement. Smartphones proving able small satellite components. Addressing the STEM gap. Holiday gift ideas for space geeks. World View looks to retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly to take on crew operations responsibilities for high altitude balloon missions. AXE Apollo announces spaceflight contest winners. A look at major space policy activities planned for the week ahead.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Spaceflightinsider.com (12/7): ATK executive Charlie Precourt, a former NASA astronaut, discusses how the company is combining cutting edge technology and with an operational legacy to develop the Space Launch System, the NASA heavy lift rocket intended to start future explorers on missions of deep space exploration. “Regarding cost, there are challenges with both the expense of developing a new system as well as the cost to maintain and operate it,” said Precourt. “ATK’s offering is focused on both of those aspects. How do we bring on great performance capabilities while decreasing cost for the life of the program? This is all part of the next step down the path of what we’ve been doing for some time, reducing cost from a manufacturing and reliability standpoint.”
New Scientist (12/9): Retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chaio urges closer U.S. and Chinese ties. Beijing’s near term goals include the launch of a space station in the 2020 time frame — about the time the U.S. led International Space Station is about to be de-orbited.
Fox News (12/6): So far, the U.S. is watching as China and perhaps others pursue interests in the Earth’s moon. U.S. interests in future human deep space exploration are now focused on asteroids and landing humans on Mars.
Los Angeles Times (12/9): Exploration, science and new enterprise are fueling efforts to reach space. China, India, Japan, Europe as well as the United States and Russia are forging ahead in meaningful ways, writes Louis Friedman, former director of the Planetary Society, in an op-ed.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Spaceflightnow.com (12/6): China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander maneuvered into orbit around the moon on Friday — less than five days after lifting off. Lander and Jade Rabbit rover touchdown are scheduled for Dec. 14.
Space Politics (12/8): The Washington website reflects on last week’s House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on astrobiology. The 90 minute session was focused on identifying the next steps in the search for signs of life elsewhere in the universe.
CNN (12/6): A look at what’s most important to know of comet ISON. ISON shattered as it hair pinned around the sun on Nov. 28. Observation campaigns are still under way on this once bright object that sped into the heart of the solar system from the Oort Cloud.
Mirrors for giant space telescope take shape: Seven interlocking 27-foot mirrors will gather light for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), which is designed to peer farther than ever before into the universe from a mountaintop in Chile.
Christian Science Monitor (12/7): At the University of Arizona, techs are fabricating an 80 foot mirror in seven segments for the Giant Magellan Telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile. The GMT is part of a new observatory designed to find and study the light from the earliest days of the universe.
Pasadena Star News (12/6): Stephen Colbert, of TV’s The Colbert Report, presents NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal to Ed Stone, former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a key scientist involved with the long running Voyager missions. The presentation was made in conjunction with Stone’s Dec. 3 appearance on The Colbert Report.
Low Earth Orbit
USA Today (12/9): Fifteen years ago Tuesday, NASA astronaut Robert Cabana and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev became the first humans to enter the early habitable modules of the new International Space Station. “It was an International Space Station, and I felt it very important that we enter as an international crew,” reflected Cabana, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center director.
Discovery.com via Space.com (12/5): Astronauts aboard the International Space Station use a deployment mechanism aboard the Kibo Japanese module to send CubeSats into Earth orbit.
Fargo Forum, of North Dakota (12/7): Recently returned from a mission to the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg is living proof there’s a place for aspiring young women in the STEM fields.
The Motley Fool via The Houston Chronicle (12/7): By its own measure, Russia is the number one source of orbital space debris. The growing level of space junk threatens to damage or destroy other satellites, including the International Space Station, according to the country’s Central Research Institute for Engineering.
Space News (12/6): The FAA rules that NASA astronauts will fly as ‘spaceflight participants’ while traveling aboard agency fostered commercial space transportation services to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts do not fit the definition of ‘crew’ under the regulations because they are not employees of the operators or their subcontractors, according to the FAA. However, FAA rulings do not limit the scope of the work government-employed astronauts can perform aboard commercial space taxis, including piloting the vehicle, Space News reports.
Spaceflightnow.com (12/8): A Russian Proton places the first member of Inmarsat’s new Global Express satellite network in orbit early Sunday. The new network will extend greater bandwidth to commercial and business aircraft for crew and passengers.
Washington Post (12/8): Columnist Thomas Heath profiles Orbital Sciences Corp., the rocket and satellite makers. Anyone who communicates using modern technology has likely been touched by the Dulles, Va., company.
Miami Herald (12/6): Florida Gov. Rick Scott turns to tax incentives to revive Florida’s space coast economy, which was damaged by the 2011 retirement of NASA’s space shuttle program. While unemployment rates drop in regions like Brevard County, come question Scott’s strategy.
NASA’s E.T. smartphone satellite has phoned home: A 4-inch device using a Samsung Nexus S phone sent data back to its Santa Clara University ground station. The smaller equipment could reduce costs of space exploration.
Los Angeles Times (12/7): Smartphone electronics, modified by NASA’s Ames Research Center, are proving capable components for smaller, less expensive satellites. “NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington.
New York Times (12/7): In an editorial, the Times looks at America’s STEM crisis. Ninety percent of high school students want nothing to do with science, technology, engineering and math, according to a recent survey. A formula for change includes more flexible curriculums starting at the lowest grade levels, early exposure to STEM, better teacher preparation and opportunities for experience in the real world, according to the Times.
Collectspace.com (12/6): Great gifts for the holidays — each for less than the cost of a trip to space.
Forbes (12/8): Tuscon, AZ based World View, which aims to take people to near space altitudes via balloon, announced that former astronaut Mark Kelly is joining the company as its Director of Flight Crew Operations. The company announced that it will also begin taking reservations for tis flights this week.
NBC News.com (12/8): Mark Kelly, a former NASA astronaut, joins World View, the commercial space company, as director of crew operations. World View intends to take tourists and scientists to altitudes of 100,000 feet on a commercial basis.
Space.com (12/8): Twenty three contestants emerge from a yearlong contest and a week of training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with tickets for Space Exploration Corporation suborbital flights. More than 100 contestants from 60 nations participated in events sponsored by AXE Apollo, a men’s grooming line. Ticket holders will fly aboard the XCOR Aerospace Lynx spacecraft.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/8): The U.S. House and Senate are in session this week.
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