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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. The SpaceX Dragon mission to the International Space Station will draw to a close on Thursday , after nine days. Mercury astronaut John Glenn, now 90, receives the Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony. Two essays examine the prelude to the SpaceX Dragon mission and potential future applications beyond cargo and crew flights to the International Space Station. Russian reaches a stalemate in discussions with Kazakhstan over launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The European Union reaches an impasse of its own over future funding for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative. China launches a spy satellite. Scientists say ancient Mars may have heated from the impact of space bodies.
1. From the Wall Street Journal: The unfolding success of the SpaceX Dragon re-supply mission to the International Space Station is strengthening the case for commercial crew transport as well as cargo delivery missions to the six person orbiting science lab, the Journal reports. Doubts remain, however, among some Congressional policy makers.
A. From Spacepolicyonline.com: NASA sets the stage for the SpaceX Dragon mission’s departure from the International Space Station on Thursday. The Dragon freighter will un-berth, circle the Earth three times and re-enter the atmosphere for a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the southern California coast, ending a nine-day test flight.
B. From CBS News: Dragon is scheduled to un-berth from the space station on Thursday at 6:10 a.m., EDT. A series of operations will lead to a scheduled splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the southern California coast just before noon, EDT.
C. From the Huntsville Times: SpaceX signs with Intelsat for the launch of future communications satellites aboard the company’s new Falcon Heavy rocket.
2. From Collectspace.com: Mercury astronaut John Glenn, a retired Marine Corps aviator and former U. S. Senator, receives the Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony on Tuesday. Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, was among 13 who received the nation’s highest civilian honor from President Obama.
3. Two essays from The Space Review assess the rising interest in the SpaceX Dragon mission to the International Space Station and possible future activities for Dragon that might advance human space exploration:
A. In “A test of technology and a validation of vision,” TSR editor Jeff Foust examines how the SpaceX Dragon managed to become the centerpiece of the first U.S. commercial re-supply missions to the International Space Station, and why the current test flight has drawn such wide public and political interest.
B. In “DragonLab -g: An early step to Mars and beyond,” Tom Hill, an aerospace professional, examines possible roles for Dragon in the advancement of human space exploration. Dragon might explore the role of artificial gravity in preventing the bone and muscle losses that accompany the long exposure of astronauts to weightlessness and in assessing the effectiveness of radiation shielding alternatives.
4. From Space News: The European Union defers a funding decision on the proposed multi-billion dollar Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program. European investments in the initiative so far total $4 billion. The program still has multiple funding paths.
5. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Russia and Kazakhstan reach a stalemate on some Russian launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Officials in Kazakhstan claim Russian polar launches endanger populated regions of their country.
6. From Spaceflightnow.com: China launches at spy satellite on Tuesday.
7. From Space.com: Scientists suggest the kinetic energy from the impact of planetary materials on early Mars may have set the red planet on a period of runaway heating.
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