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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe, plus reports from the weekend. Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the drama-filled Mars landing by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Is time running out for some critical decision making on U.S. space policy? Japan launches a space station re-supply mission. Russia looks to September for Proton recovery. SpaceX explains growing appetite for U.S. launch sites. NASA’s next Mars mission probe reaches Florida to prep for November lift off. Former astronaut Kathy Sullivan nominated to become permanent NOAA administrator. Perseid meteor shower peaks Aug. 11-12. A look at space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 4: On Tuesday, NASA looks back one year to the “seven minutes of terror” and drama that ended with the successful Aug. 6, 2012 landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. The high stakes landing remains fresh in the minds of many. Now, Curiosity is half way through a prime mission that has already found evidence of an alien environment was once suitable for biological activity.
A. From National Public Radio, Aug. 5: A look back at Curiosity’s travels and activities since landing.
B. From Collectspace.com, Aug. 5: NASA medallion commemorates Curiosity landing and first year of rover’s Mars mission.
C. From Space.com, Aug. 4: In Washington, aspiring Mars colonists gathered at George Washington University on Saturday. The session was hosted by Mars One, the organization that started a campaign last year to select 23 humans suited for a one-way trip to the red planet in 2023. “I think this is the most important thing going on in the world today,” Mars Society president Robert Zubrin, a guest speaker, told the gathering. The deadline for applicants is Aug. 31.
2. From Florida Today, Aug. 3: Columnist John Kelly points to three space policy issues in need of near term resolution for the good of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. They include a long term plan for staffing the International Space Station; agreement on the next targets for U.S. human explorers; and government support for commercial space startups. Without station operations beyond 2020, lawmakers could call into question investments into commercial crew transportation services, Kelly notes.
3. From CBSnews.com, Aug. 3: On Saturday, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched its fourth resupply mission to the International Space Station. Station astronauts plan to greet the space freighter on Friday and hoist it aboard the orbital outpost with Canada’s robot arm.
A. From Space.com, Aug. 3: Japan’s space station cargo includes Kirobo, a small taking robot.
B. From Collectspace.com, Aug. 3: Kirobo, equipped with voice and face recognition technologies, plans to speak with space station crews.
4. From Itar-Tass, of Russia, Aug. 5: Proton rocket launches could resume in September with the first of five missions planned for the remainder of the year, according to Vladimir Popovkin, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. Three Russian GLONASS navigation satellites were lost in a July 2 Proton launch mishap blamed on the improper installation of an angular rate sensor. The spectacular crash raised anew questions about Russian competence.
5. From Space News, Aug. 2: SpaceX, with its growing commercial launch manifest, pushes for access to multiple U.S. launch sites. Even with a possible acquisition of Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the company remains interested in opening a South Texas launch complex. SpaceX currently operates from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Texas. “Each of the pads has its own niche, and we have plenty of business to fill each pad,” said one company official.
6. From Florida Today, Aug. 2: MAVEN, NASA’s newest Mars probe, arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where it will undergo preparations for a November lift off. MAVEN will study the upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere in a bid to help experts explain how it evaporated into space.
7. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Aug. 2: President Obama nominates Kathy Sullivan, the former NASA astronaut, to become NOAA’s administrator. Sullivan has been serving in the post in an “acting” capacity since February.
8. From The Washington Post, Aug. 3: Annual Perseid meteor shower to peak night of Aug. 11-12.
9. From Spacepolicyonline.com, Aug. 3: A look at the calendar of space policy activities anticipated through Aug. 18, starting with the first anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars.
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