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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA to host public Mars exploration forum April 29. NASA’s Mars exploration strategy will equip humans with technologies to settle new worlds, according to Charles Bolden, the Agency’s administrator. Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin questions NASA’s approach to Asteroid Redirect Mission. Long term polling suggests Americans expect bold space missions but are reluctant to finance them. High ranking NASA exploration official to leave for Purdue University post. Boeing/NASA collaboration produces composite rocket fuel tank breakthrough. NASA investigates prospects for faster than light travel on a small scale. Earth’s thick atmosphere an effective cushion against small asteroid impacts. Scientists take on project to re-contact 35-year-old science spacecraft. Solar eclipse on for next week, but visible to only a few. U.S. astronauts replace computer box outside International Space Station with rapid spacewalk. Russia plans new test of Progress automated docking system upgrade. Orbital Sciences, Stratolaunch to collaborate on airborne launch strategy. Written congressional testimony reveals depth of competition between United Launch Alliance and SpaceX.
Human Deep Space Exploration
NASA (4/23): NASA to host Exploration Forum in Washington on April 29, showcasing the work on many fronts to develop the technologies for the human exploration of Mars. Top agency officials from exploration, science, technology and commercial crew will be among those participating.
Space.com (4/23): NASA Administrator Charles Bolden characterizes agency’s asteroid, Mars exploration plans as civilization saving. Bolden’s comments were presented to the Human to Mars Summit in Washington this week.
Space.com (4/23): Launch astronauts to an asteroid. Don’t retrieve and steer an asteroid into orbit around the moon, says Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 moon walker. Aldrin addressed the Humans to Mars Summit underway in Washington this week.
Spacepolitics.com (4/23): At this week’s Human to Mars Summit in Washington, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden offers strong defense of Asteroid Redirect and Mars mission strategies chosen by the agency. “We made a decision. Some people in this room don’t like it,” Bolden told the audience. “But we’re on our way, and you can either go with us, or figure out how to start all over again, and everybody in this room, I think, knows what happens when you start all over again.”
Pew Research Center (4/23): In polling data dating back four decades, Americans consistently express the belief the government spends too much on space exploration. Still a poll last week, revealed that one third believe there will be human colonies on other planets by 2064. Just four years ago, nearly two thirds of those surveyed believed astronauts would reach the Martian surface by 2050.
Space News (4/23): Dan Dumbacher, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for exploration systems, with agency wide responsibilities for Space Launch System and Orion development, will leave the space agency for a faculty post at Purdue University, his alma mater. Dumbacher said he is leaving the SLS and Orion programs in good shape.
Design News (4/23): NASA, Boeing collaborate on composite fuel tank for Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. New tank, now in the test phase, promises to be 30 percent lighter, 25 percent less expensive than metal to fabricate, according to estimates.
Scientific American (4/23): NASA works on small scale to determine if faster than light travel is possible.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Time (4/23): The Earth’s atmosphere has long proven an effective shield against the hazards of asteroid impacts, say experts. Earlier this week, the B612 Foundation presented a video account of 26 random meteor explosions high in the atmosphere of the Earth over the past dozen years as part of its privately financed campaign to identify future threats.
Popular Mechanics (4/23): A pair of enterprising scientists and exploration enthusiasts hope to re-establish communications with the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 probe. Launched in 1978 to study interactions between the Earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind, the sun orbiting ISEE-3 was decommissioned in 1999. Keith Cowing and Dennis Wingo hope to re-purpose the spacecraft as a public science laboratory.
Space.com (4/23): Solar eclipse coming next Tuesday. The event will be visible, however, only in a small part of Antarctica.
Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflight Insider (4/23): U.S. astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson replace failed computer controller outside the International Space Station during a 1.5 hour spacewalk.
Spaceflightnow.com (4/23): NASA spacewalk concludes without space suit issues. Space Suits worn by Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson were checked for issues related to the fan pump separator that diverted water into the helmet of European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano last July.
Washington Post (3/23): Spacewalks are risky. We should not be lulled into complacency over the risks that astronauts face while living in orbit, according to the report.
Ria Novosti, of Russia (4/23): A Russian Progress cargo capsule undocked from the International Space Station hours before Wednesday’s spacewalk. The capsule is due to return and dock early Friday to complete the validation of a KURS-NA automated docking system upgrade. The spacecraft was unable to complete the validation as it docked in late November.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space News (4/23): Orbital Sciences’ new Antares rocket could be launching from the airborne Stratolaunch platform within four years, a top Orbital official informs shareholders. That means at least a 15 percent increase in payload to orbit, according to Orbital CEO David Thompson.
Space News (4/22): SpaceX, United Launch Alliance top officials debate merits of their respective launch services for military and national security payloads in written testimony presented to U.S. Senate appropriations panel. Cost, mission assurance were among issues explored during a March 5 hearing.
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