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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Invited journalists and guests of North Korea prepare for a rocket launch this week that experts from the West suspect is a veiled intercontinental ballistic missile test. The visit is producing clues about the nuclear armed nation’s real intentions. In Washington, a White House report touts the success of cash prizes in spurring private sector innovation. In Florida, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center works to fill empty shuttle facilities with commercial tenants. Washington D. C. prepares for an April 17 space shuttle fly over. SpaceX looks to South Texas for a possible commercial launch site. The nation’s financial challenges should not stop an ambitious effort to return rock and soil samples from Mars, writes a prominent planetary scientist. Essays examine what it takes to establish a commercial spaceport and the move to allow lunar property rights.
1. From CNN: North Korea’s motives become less mysterious as the nuclear armed nation prepares for a rocket launch to celebrate the 100th year of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth. The milestone promises to consolidate power around the nation’s young dictator, Kim Jong Un, a western analyst suggests. North Korea’s neighbors have joined the U. S. in suspecting North Korea’s plans to launch a satellite between Thursday and April 16 are really masking a ballistic missile test. South Korea reports an underground nuclear test will follow, and a western analyst questions the maturity of the rocket technology.
A. From MSNBC: During a stop at North Korea’s Launch Control Center, MSNBC producer James Oberg spots a possible clue about the purpose of the rocket launch.
2. From USA Today: A new White House report finds cash prizes offered by NASA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy are often effective in spurring private sector innovation. Competitions have enhanced electrically powered airplanes and produced a phone application to track flu outbreaks.
3. From the Orlando Sentinel: At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, officials race to find tenants for the facilities once occupied by the long running space shuttle program. The shuttle fleet was retired in mid-2011. Without tenants, NASA could run short of funds to maintain facilities ranging from hangars to runways by the fall of 2013, the Sentinel reports.
4. From The Hill: If current scheduling holds, the retired shuttle orbiter Discovery will sail low over Washington D. C. atop a NASA Boeing 747 Carrier Aircraft on April 17. The course will take the famed orbiter over the National Mall and Reagan National Airport prior to a landing at Dulles International Airport. Discovery is headed from the Kennedy Space Center to the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Center for public display.
5. From Space News: SpaceX looks at South Texas as a possible launch site for future commercial orbital missions, including the delivery of deliveries to the International Space Station.
6. From the Huffington Post: Planetary scientist Jim Bell makes the case for a U. S. Mars soil and rock sample return mission. NASA’s highly successful robotic Mars exploration program, jeopardized by national budget concerns, has reached an “inflection point.” Close at hand is a deeper understanding of how life arose in the solar system, writes Bell in an op-ed.
A. From The Huffington Post: America’s young need the opportunities offered by an ambitious program of human space exploration, writes Aaron Wang, a Stockton, Calif., high school junior, in an op-ed.
7. Two from Monday’s The Space Review examine the challenges facing commercial spaceports and the prospects for lunar property rights.
A. In “Patience, perseverance and other lessons for spaceports,” TSR editor Jeff Foust checks back on the inevitable optimism that surrounds the promise of a commercial spaceport, where its in Alabama, New Mexico or Russia. The pathway to success, however, may be patience, suggests Foust, who checks the track record. “Commercial industry is taking off, but how fast,” one seemingly successful participant in the process notes.
B. In “Staking a place on the moon,” TSR editor Jeff Foust examines the popular notion that property rights would hasten humans activity on the moon, perhaps other planetary bodies. The Moon Treaty of 1979 bans property claims, but how long can the prohibition hold up.
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