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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defends work on the Space Launch System and Orion crew exploration vehicle in appearance before National Research Council panel assessing future of U.S. human space flight. NASA is gearing up for the inaugural flight of its next manned spacecraft, which is now less than a year away. Boeing reaches agreement for assembly of CST-100 commercial crew vehicle in former Kennedy Space Center shuttle hangar. Innovation key to advances in commercial as well as government space endeavors as budgets tighten. NASA lunar mission demonstrates space laser communications. Orbital Sciences Corp. brings commercial re-supply mission to the International Station to a conclusion. Skeleton NASA team watched over key James Webb Space Telescope development test during U.S. government shutdown. India’s Mars mission moves to Nov. 5 launch. More on Jupiter bound Juno mission’s Oct. 9 Earth flyby. European Earth observing satellite to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere soon. Commercial start up World View Enterprises to offer space experience with high altitude balloon flights. Popular space drama Gravity becomes symbol of U.S./China space relations for some. Astronomers capture comet break up.
1. From Space News: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden defends the agency’s investments in the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, Orion crew vehicle, Solar Electric Propulsion and the other capabilities that set the stage for human deep space exploration. Bolden’s testimony this week was presented to a National Research Council panel. The panel, reestablished in response to a Congressional directive, is to issue a report on the future of U.S. human space flight in May.
A. From Space.com: NASA is gearing up for the inaugural flight of its next manned spacecraft, which is now less than a year away. NASA’s Orion capsule is slated to launch atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in September 2014. The unpiloted mission, known as Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), features a high-altitude, high-speed plunge into Earth’s atmosphere to assess the craft’s heat shield and ends with a parachute-aided splashdown into the Pacific Ocean.
B. From the Huntsville Times: NASA official defends decision to mothball proposed J2-X upper stage for NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. As testing winds down, NASA intends to suspend development until nation is ready to mate the J2-X with the SLS for missions to Mars.
2. From AmericaSpace.com: The Boeing Co. and Space Florida reach an agreement on use of a former NASA Orbiter Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Boeing will use the OPF to assemble CST-100 crew capsules, the commercial spacecraft the company is developing with NASA’s support to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
A. From Florida Today: Boeing move to Kennedy hangar will come in the spring.
3. From Spacepolicyonline.com: With U.S. government programs facing budgetary constraints, innovation both in the commercial as well as the government sector may the key to advances in space exploration.
4. From Popular Mechanics: NASA’s recently launched LADEE moon mission achieves successful demonstration of laser communications with Earth. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft transmits data at an historic rate of more than 600 megabits per second, a fivefold leap., the magazine reports. Laser com may lead to radical changes in spacecraft design.
5. From Spaceflightnow.com: A Cygnus re-supply capsule developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. departed the six person International Space Station early Tuesday, completing a near month long demonstration mission sponsored by NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. The flight is expected to qualify Orbital Sciences to become NASA’s second U.S. commercial cargo provider for station operations. SpaceX qualified as the first in 2012.
6. From Spaceflightnow.com: The instrument module for the James Webb Space Telescope underwent cryogenic testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center during the U.S. government shutdown earlier this month. The space agency kept a skeleton crew of engineers and technicians working to watch over a test that simulated conditions the large observatory will experience in deep space. JWST, headed for a late 2018 launch, is the designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
7. From the Planetary Society: India moves the launch of its Mars Orbiter Mission from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5. The Mars launch window for the next two years closes on Nov. 19.
8. From NBCNews.com: NASA’s Jupiter bound Juno mission paints a portrait of the Earth during a difficult Oct. 9 Earth fly by.
9. From Russia Today: ESA’s 2,400 pound Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE mission, will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere within two weeks. Launched in 2009, GOCE’s descent is difficult to predict. The European mission mapped the Earth’s magnetic field.
10. From the New York Times: World View Enterprises announces plans to launch luxuriously outfitted commercial high altitude balloon flights. Missions lasting several hours will feature views of the Earth and space. World View balloon launches to start in three years.
A. From the Coalition for Space Exploration: “Seeing the Earth hanging in the ink-black void of space will help people realize our connection to our home planet and to the universe around us, and will surely offer a transformative experience to our customers,” said CEO Jane Poynter of World View’s new commercial high altitude balloon venture.
11. From the Baltimore Sun: The popular feature film Gravity symbolizes a current vacuum in U.S. space policy that China is massing to fill, writes Douglas MacKinnon, a former White House and Pentagon official, in an op-ed.
A. From Xinhuanet, of China: In an op-ed, the news service welcomes a decision by NASA to open a Kepler Space Telescope conference to Chinese researchers, while calling for greater cooperation in space between the two countries. The commentary suggests Congress remove a restriction to bi-lateral talks. NASA’s Ames Research Center will host the conference planned for next month.
B. From the Huffington Post: Gravity’s feature film plot involves a space rescue enabled in part by a Chinese spacecraft. “An American astronaut in a Chinese space ship? This truly is the stuff of science fiction, because it may just take a disaster of Gravity’s proportions for that to happen,” notes a new review of the popular film.
12. From Discovery.com: Astronomers turn New Mexico telescope toward comet outburst. Comet C/2012 X1 (Linear) is nearly 300 million miles from the Earth.
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