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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities, including a roundup from of activities from the Memorial Day weekend. As the holiday got under way, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft became the first from the U. S. private sector to berth with the space station. The capsule was opened by the station crew on Saturday and is scheduled to depart the orbiting science lab on Thursday. NASA and the planetary science community size up future Mars missions with limited budgets. Cheyenne, Wyoming welcomes a new supercomputer for climate research. In a week, Venus will make a rare solar transit viewable from Earth. The asteroid 2012 KT42 passes close to the Earth today. NASA’s Kepler telescope finds a disintegrating planet. China looks to a mid-June for a space station launch. A look at major space policy events scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Politico.com, May 25: The U. S. commercial space sector receives White House encouragement as SpaceX’s Dragon re-supply craft reaches the International Space Station.
A. From Spaceflightnow.com, May 26: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station open hatches to the SpaceX Dragon, the first U. S. commercial re-supply craft to reach the orbiting science lab. Remaining milestones include a cargo exchange as well as the un-berthing and re-entry of the cargo vessel on Thursday.
B. From CNN, May 26: Space station astronauts greeted with “new car smell” as they enter the Dragon capsule.
C. From The Houston Chronicle, May 26: In Texas, the unfolding success of the SpaceX mission brings dividends. State officials will offer incentives to bring SpaceX to Brownsville in south Texas to develop a new launch complex. The California based company plans to expand its launch operations in Florida, Puerto Rico or Texas.
D. From the Orlando Sentinel, May 27: In an op-ed, former NASA shuttle commander Mark Kelly endorses President Obama’s initiatives to turn low Earth orbit cargo and crew transportation responsibilities over to the commercial sector. Initially, he opposed the move, which was marked by the cancellation of NASA’s Constellation program, Kelly writes. “The president made a tough, bold decision and I now believe he was right,” said Kelly, who led the final mission of shuttle orbiter Endeavour in 2011.
E. From Space News, May 25: U. S. commercial space aspirations earn new credibility with the SpaceX Dragon mission, according to top U.S. space policy makers.
F. From Collectspace.com, May 26: As Dragon’s hatches swing open, space station astronaut Don Pettit suggests the spacecraft’s arrival has the symbolic significance of the Golden Spike that joined the U. S. Transcontinental railroad in 1869. The completed rail line helped to open the American west.
G. From The Wall Street Journal, May 25: SpaceX makes history as it becomes the first U.S. company to dock with the International Space Station. The linkup opens the door to regular U.S. cargo deliveries and sets the stage for commercial crew missions.
H. From the Christian Science Monitor, May 25: The SpaceX Dragon docking with the International Space Station ranks among NASA’s most significant achievements, say some at NASA and in the U. S. commercial space industry.
2. From The Coalition for Space Exploration, May 28: Noted planetary scientist Steve Squyres, also chair of the independent NASA Advisory Council, outlines possible next steps in Mars exploration before the Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington. International cooperation promises to be a key feature of efforts to learn about the Martian interior and gather soil samples for return to Earth, according to Squyres.
A. From May 25: Space.com: NASA is re-scoping its Mars exploration program in response to 2013 budget constraints. Scientists flood NASA with 400 mission proposals in response to the agency’s call for ideas. NASA expects to have a new blue print by August, in time to influence future budget planning.
3. From the Washington Post, May 28: Cheyenne, Wyoming welcomes a supercomputer called Yellowstone. The processor’s mission is to model climate chance right down to the regional scale. The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. will supervise.
4. From the New York Times, May 28: A week from today, planet Venus will cross the face of the sun in a transit that is observable from the Earth. This rare event was once useful in determining the distance to the sun. This crossing won’t occur again for another 105 years.
A. Watch a web cast of this rare June 5 event sponsored by Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Science Center.
6. From Discovery.com, May 26: Observations with NASA’s exo-plant hunting Kepler space telescope reveal some surprising results. Among them a “disintegrating” planet around the star KIC 12557548 about 1,500 light years away.
7. From Spacepolicyonline.com: China’s next mission to the Tiangong-1 space station may launch June 17.
A. From Xinhuanet of China, May 27: China successfully launches a domestic telecommunications satellite.
8. From Spacepolicyonline.com: A look at key space events scheduled for the week ahead.
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