CSExtra – Top Space News for Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14th, 2014

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA readies engines for Space Launch System core stage for ground testing.  Cost of Space Launch System launch debated. Experts differ over moon’s role in future human deep space missions. NASA’s Orion crew exploration module passes avionics testing. NASA explores technologies for Mars landing. Reflections on America’s moon missions.  In Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin urges scientists to take risks from asteroid impacts seriously. Lunar eclipse coming early Tuesday. Might Pluto host Earth-like qualities? Extended Cassini mission at Saturn: worthy of a new name? SpaceX readies cargo mission to the International Space Station. NASA prepares space station spacewalk repair. Saturday marked 53rd anniversary of first human spaceflight. U.S., Russia forge ahead with space cooperation despite tensions over Ukraine. U.S. Commerce secretary outlines concerns over weather satellite gap. European Space Agency reveals drama linked to space debris and launch of Earth observing satellite. U.S. Commercial Crew Program grows in significance. Editorial examines Houston spaceport. XCOR looks to 2015 for West Texas suborbital flights. Major space policy activities scheduled for the week ahead.

Human Deep Space Exploration

NASA gears up for next set of engine tests for Space Launch System

NASA (4/11): NASA prepares to test fire former space shuttle engines on Stennis Space Center test stands. The RS-25 will power the core stage of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket that will start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration. Test flights of the SLS are planned for 2017, 2021.

The cost of operating NASA’s Space Launch System depends on who one asks 

The (4/13): The mission cost for NASA’s Space Launch System, envisioned as the propulsion source that will start U.S. explorers on future missions of deep space exploration, varies greatly, based on who offers the estimate.

Human lunar missions subject of debate at exploration workshop

Space News (4/11): The moon may not be on NASA’s critical path to the human exploration of Mars, but others in the U.S. and Europe believe the lunar surface has much to teach us before explorers reach for the red planet. The middle ground — forays to near Earth asteroids and lunar orbit that is favored by NASA — remains a grey zone for policy makers.

Orion spacecraft passes demanding tests to prepare for flight (4/12): NASA’s Orion crew capsule will undergo vibration testing following a demanding evaluation of the capsule’s avionics. The spacecraft is headed toward an unpiloted test launch in December that will exercise the heat shielding and other systems after two orbits of the Earth.

Humans on Mars: These are the brakes

Coalition for Space Exploration (4/11): At NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, engineers are at work on inflatable systems to navigate the Martian atmosphere. The work may pave the way for the staging of a future human habitat.

Opinion: Forty-five years later — What does ‘one giant leap’ mean?

Spaceflight Insider (4/13): “For a brief period in our history, the Moon landings proved to the world that we, not just the United States, but we, the human race, were capable of anything. If we could land on the Moon, maybe we could end war, cure cancer, even conquer death and colonize the universe.”

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Deputy PM Rogozin invites best minds to create anti-asteroid technology

Voice of Russia (4/12): Russian Deputy Prime Minister Demitry Rogozan urges his countrymen to take seriously the threat posed by near Earth objects. The country’s best minds are needed to devise defenses, says Rogozan.

Catch a total lunar eclipse sidling up to Mars and send us your photos

Scientific American (4/12): Early Tuesday should bring sky watchers a pair of events — a full lunar eclipse and a redder, larger Mars as the red planet and the Earth make their closest approach.

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on Tuesday

Star Date (4/11): Early Tuesday, the Earth’s shadow will begin to fall across the full moon. The eclipse will be visible in much of the Western Hemisphere — where skies are clear.

Pluto may have deep seas and ancient tectonic faults (4/12): Experts offer evidence that distant Pluto may host an ocean, and plate tectonics — Earth-like characteristics.

Join in the Cassini name game

NASA (4/12):  The U.S. Cassini Saturn probe is nearing its 10th anniversary around the ringed planet. NASA is seeking help with a suitable name for an extended mission that would permit a closer look at the moon Enceladus. Recently scientists announced evidence of a large body of water on Enceladus.

Low Earth Orbit

NASA clears SpaceX for Monday cargo launch and CBS News (4/13): On Sunday, NASA and SpaceX announce efforts to proceed with the launch Monday of a third SpaceX re-supply mission to the six person International Space Station. The mission will proceed despite a failed external computer on the station’s solar power truss. ISS astronauts will prepare for a spacewalk to install a replacement on April 22. Monday’s lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is set for 4:48 a.m., EDT.

Backup ISS computer breaks down, requiring possible spacewalk

Russia Today (4/12): U.S. astronauts look at possible spacewalk to replace an external International Space Station electronics box that plays a role in robotics activities associated with an upcoming U.S. commercial SpaceX resupply mission.

Our spaceflight heritage: First manned spaceflight

Spaceflight Insider (4/12): Saturday marked the 53rd anniversary of the first human spaceflight, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s single orbit of the Earth in 1961. The flight triggered a space race between the United States and the former Soviet Union.

NASA is cutting ties with Russia. But it’s not that simple.

The Washington Post (4/11): Despite differences over Russian activities in Crimea and the Ukraine, the United States is unlikely to sever ties in space as long Soyuz rockets provide the only means of reaching the International Space Station with astronauts and returning them to Earth.

The substance, or lack thereof, of NASA’s ban on Russian cooperation (4/11): What’s affected by a Russian space ban announced by the U.S. earlier this month? Very little, the Washington website concludes.

Commerce Secretary calls risk of weather satellite Gap `too high’

Space News (4/11): U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker expressed concerns over a weather satellite gap in testimony before the House and Senate last week. She attributed her concerns to budget difficulties and delays in spacecraft already in development. NOAA, part of the Commerce Department, operates geostationary weather satellites for continental coverage and polar orbiters for global coverage.

Sentinel satellite’s first day in space was unusually tense (4/11): The European Space Agency details drama surrounding the early mission of the Sentinel-1A satellite on April 3, as ground controllers worked to dodge an uncontrolled satellite.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

The growing importance of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (4/11): NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, initiated four years ago as the retirement of NASA’s shuttle flight neared, has taken on new significance as tensions between the U.S. and Russia grow over Ukraine. The NASA initiative offers the U.S. its best opportunity to restore a domestic human launch capability.

Spaceport: One small step

Houston Chronicle (4/12): In an editorial, the newspaper praises efforts to establish a space port at Houston’s Ellington Airport near NASA’s Johnson Space Center. However, it questions whether there is enough business to support the investment. The editorial follows an announcement from Sierra Nevada of plans to land its Dream Chaser seven person spacecraft at Ellington — if the company wins a NASA contract to launch astronauts to the space station.


XCOR one step closer to becoming reality

KOSA-TV, Odessa, Texas (4/14): XCOR looks to twice weekly suborbital flights from the Midland, Texas airport in 2015.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week: April 14-19, 2014 (4/13): A summary of the major space events scheduled for the week ahead.

Brought to you by the Coalition for Space Exploration, CSExtra is a daily compilation of space industry news selected from hundreds of online media resources.  The Coalition is not the author or reporter of any of the stories appearing in CSExtra and does not control and is not responsible for the content of any of these stories.  The content available through CSExtra contains links to other websites and domains which are wholly independent of the Coalition, and the Coalition makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information contained in any such site or domain and does not pre-screen or approve any content.   The Coalition does not endorse or receive any type of compensation from the included media outlets and is not responsible or liable in any way for any content of CSExtra or for any loss, damage or injury incurred as a result of any content appearing in CSExtra.  For information on the Coalition, visit or contact us via e-mail at

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