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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest in reporting and commentary on space-related activities under way around the world, plus a roundup of weekend activities. At the Kennedy Space Center, a countdown rehearsal/hot fire is scheduled Monday for the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon mission. China’s satellite-based global navigation system expands by two spacecraft. In Washington, the House and Senate consider differing versions of NASA’s 2013 budget. The weekend commenced with a safe return to Earth for three U. S. and Russian International Space Station crew members. NASA’s Flight test orbiter Enterprise lands at JFK International Airport in New York City to await a barge trip to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. California treasure hunters rush to find rare meteor fragments. NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld discusses the agency’s science agenda. Russia envisions a human lunar mission. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne awaits a new corporate home. A solar eclipse nears. Giant red stars look like promising hosts for habitable worlds. Venus grows brighter still. Space related activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, April 29: The SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon combination is scheduled to undergo a two second engine hot fire at the conclusion of a countdown rehearsal on Monday. The nine first stage engines should light at 3 p.m., EDT. The SpaceX spacecraft is nearing a May 7 lift off on a three week flight that would mark the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. For status updates: www.spaceflightnow.com
2. From Xinhuanet.com of China, April 30: China launches two more Beidou global navigation and positioning system satellites. More satellites are to follow this near, as China strives to complete a 30 spacecraft network by 2020. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-04/30/c_131560263.htm
3. From Space News, April 27: A look at the current U. S. House and Senate versions of NASA’s proposed 2013 budget. At $17.57 billion, the House versions represents a reduction. The Senate version, $19.4 billion, would delegate new responsibilities to NASA for the development of NOAA weather satellites. Neither, though, is fully supportive of NASA’s efforts to foster a commercial crew transport capability. The White House asked for $830 million in commercial crew funding, the Senate favors $525 million, the House, $500 million. http://www.spacenews.com/policy/175b-nasa-spending-bill-favors-planetary-probes-over-crew-taxis.html
4. From CBS.com, April 27: Three U.S. and Russian astronauts descend safely to Earth early Friday, ending a 5.5 month stay aboard the International Space Station. http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/home/spacenews/files/e6d0715124108465cfbd3ba37fa419d1-401.html
5. From Collectspace.com, April 27: NASA’s test orbiter Enterprise reaches JFK International Airport in New York City on Friday. It will await a barge trip up the Hudson River to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in several weeks. The ferry flight from suburban Washington D. C. included a low approach by the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft around the Statue of Liberty and along the Hudson River. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-042712b.html
A. From Universe Today, April 28: The sight of Enterprise atop the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft –as Discovery did in Washington D. C. the previous week — mesmerizes New Yorkers, who rush to watch the shuttle fly over some of the city’s most famous landmarks. http://www.universetoday.com/94879/millions-mesmerized-by-shuttle-enterprise-over-freedomss-beacon-in-new-york/
6. From the Los Angeles Times, April 30: Eager treasure hunters flock to a region south of Lake Tahoe to search for fragments of a meteor that dipped into the Earth’s atmosphere over California just over a week ago. The fragments could be worth as much as $1,000 a gram. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-meteorite-search-20120501,0,5730445.story
7. From NPR and Science Friday, April 27: NASA’s Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld speaks about the agency’s plans for scientific discovery. http://www.npr.org/2012/04/27/151534927/an-astronaut-explores-nasas-scientific-frontiers
8. From Rianovosti, of Russia, April 27: Russia’s space agency plans a human mission to the moon as part of a long term space exploration strategy, according to documents posted on the Roscosmos’ website. http://en.rian.ru/science/20120427/173094312.html
A. From The Conversation, April 30 : Russia’s ambitious exploration strategy is intended to greatly increase the country’s share of the global space market by 2030. http://theconversation.edu.au/space-race-reloaded-will-russia-send-cosmonauts-to-the-moon-5910
9. From the Associated Press via the Washington Post, April 29: United Technologies seeks a buyer for Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the venerable U. S. rocket engine maker. The sellers say that company has a future but not as bright as it could be with a more urgent U. S. national space policy. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/united-technologies-is-latest-business-to-scale-back-space-presence-with-end-of-nasa-shuttle/2012/04/29/gIQAxPVepT_story.html
10. From the Los Angeles Times, April 29: The north and south rims of the Grand Canyon are expected to offer prime viewing for an annular solar eclipse on May 20. http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-grand-canyon-preps-for-rare-eclipse-20120426,0,2398316.story
11. From Space.com, April 27: In the Milky Way galaxy, red giant stars may be the best place to look for habitable zone planets. Red giants, longer lived than yellow stars like the sun, appear to comprise 80 percent of the galaxy’s star population. http://exploredeepspace.com/15433-alien-life-red-dwarfs-habitable-planets.html
12. From Discovery.com, April 27: Venus, often prominent in the night sky, grows even brighter this week as the planet moves closer to the Earth. http://news.discovery.com/space/venus-bright-120427.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
13. From Spacepolicyonline.com, April 29: A look at space related activities scheduled for the week ahead. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-april-30-may-4-2012
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