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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space-related activities, plus a roundup from the weekend. SpaceX prepares for a second attempt to launch the Falcon9/Dragon spacecraft on the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission early Tuesday. The widely followed mission flying under NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Systems program was a half-second from lift off early Saturday when a first stage engine over pressurized. A rare annular eclipse delights amateur astronomers and professionals alike on Sunday, especially those on the Pacific rim and northwest United States. Evidence of life surfaces in some extreme environments. In Huntsville, Ala., the U. S. Space and Rocket Center plans repairs to a damaged Saturn V moon rocket. Pieces of the moon collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts make their way back to their lawful owner.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, May 21: SpaceX looks to early Tuesday for a second attempt to launch the company’s Falcon 9 rocket/Dragon freighter on the first U. S. commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. Saturday’s attempt to lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., was aborted at the last moment by a high pressure reading in one of nine first stage rocket engines. Engineers replaced a faulty check valve identified by SpaceX as the root cause. An engineering analysis continues. For updates:
A. From The Los Angeles Times, May 19: Saturday’s SpaceX launch attempt aborted. SpaceX is headquartered in the Hawthorne area of Los Angeles.
B. From Space.com, May 19: SpaceX is experienced at detecting, dealing with countdown drama.
C. From Spaceflightnow.com, May 18: The website goes one-on-one with SpaceX founder, CEO Elon Musk. Musk says he’ll be most anxious during the rendezvous phases of the mission.
D. From National Public Radio: SpaceX mission symbolizes the start of a new age in space.
E. From Russia Today, May 19: SpaceX mission is part of a U. S. strategy to replace NASA’s space shuttle with commercial transportation for supplies and eventually astronauts.
F. From Collectspace.com, May 18: Dragon carries a modest cargo that includes a cache of mementos, lapel pins, mission patches and a commemorative medallion.
2. From MSNBC’s Cosmic Log, May 20: Sunday’s annular eclipse thrills viewers from the Far East to the Northwestern United States. Many gathered at outdoor events. Others monitored by Internet. In the United States, it was the first opportunity to witness a solar eclipse with the signature “ring of fire” feature in 18 years.
3. From Aviation Week & Space Technology, May 21: In a critique of the International Space Station, experts give the orbiting science lab high marks for the global partnership it forged. But the alliance has had difficulty identifying a common future goal in space. In the U. S., efforts to draw scientific interest in the space station beyond NASA are having even more difficulty.
4. From Wired.com, May 19: Scientists focused on the Earth’s upper atmosphere discover the “Edge of Space” could serve as a a haven for microbial life. The group Citizens in Space led a study that suggests microbes can travel from one continent to another through the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
A. From the Washington Post, May 17: In a testament to the tenacity of life, scientists find minimal metabolism bacteria hanging on 100 feet below the sea floor in the Pacific Ocean. These simple life forms may be hundreds to hundreds of thousands of years old.
5. From CNN, May 20: Scientists focused on the environment look to the future with uncertainty. A recent National Research Council report warns the many NASA and NOAA spacecraft that study the Earth are aging and the funds to develop replacements are not flowing. In Idaho, that means potential difficulties for researcher Rick Allen, who depends on Landsat satellite data to help manage water resources.
6. From The Huntsville Times: The U. S. Space and Rocket Center seeks bids for the repair of damage to one of three historic Saturn V rockets. The Apollo moon rocket was damaged by bullets during a May 3 incident. The big launcher is owned by the Smithsonian Institution and on loan to the public display venue.
7. From the Las Vegas Review Journal, May 20: Four tiny pieces of moon rock collected by the Apollo 11 astronauts make their way from the estate of a late casino owner to the their rightful owners. President Nixon presented the moon fragments to Nicaragua’s ambassador in the early 1970s.
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