CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 14th, 2015

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. The House Appropriations Committee released a draft $18.5 billion 2016 budget plan for NASA on Wednesday, with increased spending for the Space Launch System and a robotic mission to Europa. Lockheed Martin configures an Orion capsule mockup for a key 2018 test flight. A new study suggests Jupiter’s moon Europa hosts a habitable environment. The Planetary Society quickly reaches a Kickstarter goal for its light sail technology development. Japan tempers its Hayabusa 2 asteroid mission plans. The six person International Space Station has sufficient food stores through the fall despite Russia’s recent failed Progress re-supply mission. British singer Sarah Brightman withdraws from a September Soyuz flight to the International Space Station. New Mexico’s Spaceport America advances a new business plan.

Human Deep Space Exploration

House Appropriators propose big increase for Europa, SLS, cut to Commercial Crew (5/13): The House Appropriations Committee matched the $18.5 billion White House budget request for NASA in a draft 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science bill released Wednesday. But the measure would spend it differently. As much as $2.3 billion would go for development of NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, including needed ground systems and enhancements for a more powerful upper stage. Orion would receive $1.096 billion, the same as requested by the White House, which is less than the $1.194 budgeted in 2015. NASA’s commercial crew initiative receives $1 billion in the draft bill, compared with $1.24 billion in the White House request and 2015’s $805 million. The measure includes more money for a robotic mission to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa, $140 million versus the White House request of $30 million. The draft measure specifies a 2022 launch date.

Lockheed rigging new Orion mock up for tests

Space News (5/12): At Lockheed Martin facilities in Littleton, Colo., engineers establish a high fidelity mockup of the Orion capsule that is being prepared for a milestone unpiloted 2018 flight test. The flight will send the capsule around the moon following a launch aboard the first Space Launch System test rocket.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Life in space? The odds just went up

Time (5/13): A new study published in the Geophysical Research Letters suggests Jupiter’s large moon Europa, with its ice covered ocean, could host a habitable environment. Heat may come from a gravitational tug of war between the large planet and its many moons.

Bill Nye wants your help exploring space

CNN Money (5/13): The Planetary Society’s Kickstarter campaign rapidly achieved a $200,000 fund raising goal for its second Light Sail mission demonstration planned for 2016. The first demonstration of the technology will fly as a secondary payload on the U.S. Air Force X-37B mission set for a May 20 liftoff. The technology uses light from the sun against a sail deployed in space as a propulsion source.

Japanese scientists abandon plan for asteroid flyby (5/12): A secondary payload launched with Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission, Procyon, was to cruise past a second asteroid target. The plan has been scrapped. Problems with Procyon’s ion propulsion system are to blame, according to the report. The Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission was launched in December. A 2020 Earth return is planned.

Low Earth Orbit

Astronauts have plentiful food supplies

SEN (5/13): Food stores aboard the six person International Space Station are sufficient through the fall in spite of a Russian Progress re-supply mission loss in late April, according to NASA.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Singer Sarah Brightman drops plans to go to space

CBS News (5/13): British pop singer Sarah Brightman has withdrawn from training for a September flight to the International Space Station as a space tourist. Brightman cited family concerns. The announcement follows a shakeup in Russian crew and cargo mission launch plans to the six person space station in the aftermath of a late April Russian Progress cargo mission loss.

Russian cosmonaut may be sent to space instead of British singer Sarah Brightman

TASS, of Russia (5/14): British singer Sarah Brightman will likely be replaced on a planned September Soyuz mission to the International Space Station by a Russian cosmonaut, or cargo, according to a news agency report.


Spaceport America’s revenue plan gets go-ahead

Associated Press via KRQE-TV (5/13): Spaceport America presented a new business plan on Wednesday that addresses revenue losses attributed to delays in suborbital passenger launches. New suborbital flight activity is anticipated in 2017, as the spaceport increases its circle of potential users.

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