CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th, 2014

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Opposing U.S. policy experts make the case for the moon, an asteroid as best next step in space for NASA. Actor William Shatner, aka Captain Kirk, honored by NASA for his contributions to space exploration. NASA to present progress on the Space Launch System to Philadelphia audiences this week. Astronomers watch as Milky Way black hole chows down. Biosignature detection next step in search for Earth-like planets. NASA exploration fuels spin offs in health care, automobile design, public health. Space station crew begins week with science focus. In Houston, big NASA shuttle carrier aircraft heads for one-of-a-kind museum display. U.S. State Department slows space exports to Russia over Ukraine tensions. United Launch Alliance re-paces delivery of Russian rocket engines for Atlas V.  United Launch Alliance responds to issues raised by SpaceX protest over U.S. Air Force rocket contract award.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Wolf insists return to Moon should be next step and Congress would pay for it (4/28): U.S. Rep. Frank Wolfe, who chairs the House Appropriations’ Commerce, Justice Science Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NASA, points to the moon as the next U.S. human destination in space. Remarks before the George Washington University Space Science Institute suggest a deep rift with the White House over President Obama’s directive that NASA explore an asteroid as part of preparations for the human exploration of Mars in the 2030s.

Roadmap to Mars

Space News (4/28): NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission is the right course to bring human explorers closer to Mars, writes Louis Friedman, executive director emeritus of the Planetary Society. “With astronauts doing something exciting and interesting and harnessing our combined talents in robotic and human spaceflight, we can restore NASA’s can-do image, inspire the public and lead to Mars,” writes Friedman.

NASA honors William Shatner with distinguished public service medal

NASA (4/28): William Shatner, star of Star Trek, the Gene Roddenberry inspired television series, receives NASA’s distinguished public service medal for his portrayal of Captain Kirk on television, film and video games. The medal is the highest award NASA bestows on a non-government individual.

NASA’s Space Launch System visits Philadelphia for Science Fest 2014

NASA (4/28): NASA joins with the Philadelphia Science Festival this week for presentations on the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket under development to start humans on future missions of deep space exploration. The presentations begin with a visit to tonight’s Philadelphia Phillies baseball game.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Doomed space cloud nears Milky Way’s black hole as scientists watch (4/24): Astronomers poised to witness clouds of interstellar gas as they fall into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. The encounter promises to reveal more information about black hole physics.

What steps are needed to find more Earths?

Universe Today (4/28): Next steps in the search for Earth-like planets beyond the solar system will involve looking for signatures of biological processes in the atmospheres of the distant worlds.

Low Earth Orbit

NASA Spinoff 2013 shows how much space is in our lives

NASA (4/28): NASA’s annual report NASA Spinoff 2013 illustrates the ways in which space exploration pays dividends on Earth in fields as diverse at health care, water purification and automobile design.

Crew starts week on life sciences, preps for reboost

NASA (4/28): Mission Control prepares the International Space Station for robotics activities later this week. The station’s Canadian Dextre two handed robot will unload external cargo from the SpaceX cargo mission that berthed to the six person orbiting laboratory on April 20.

Microbes, spacecraft, and cheerleaders: The ISS payload story of Project MERCCURI

The Space Review (4/28): NASA and its partners finding new avenues, new talent to place and carry out experiments aboard the International Space Station that could improve life on Earth. Among them, a study of enclosed microbes collected from famous U.S. landmarks and launched to the station for observation.

NASA shuttle carrier jumbo jet ready to roll on Houston road trip (4/28): Pieces of NASA 905, the first Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, make their way by tractor trailer late Monday from Ellington Field in Houston to Space Center Houston, where they will be reassembled for a dramatic public display with the shuttle orbiter mock up Independence. The Boeing 747’s wings, tail and fuselage were separated for the two night over the road trek.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Effort to exempt satellites from Russia sanctions complicated by latest from U.S. State Dept.

Space News (4/28): U.S. State Department exercises sanctions against U.S. spacecraft and spacecraft components headed for Russian to be launched on missions that could contribute to military capabilities. The actions are in response to Russian actions in Ukraine.

Contractor speeds up deliveries of Russian engines

The Hill (4/24): United Launch Alliance accelerates reception of Russian made RD-180 rocket engines for use by the Atlas V rocket. Change in delivery pace comes in response to tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The Atlas V plays a critical role in the launching of U.S. national security, military satellites.

SpaceX EELV suit updates

Space News (4/28): United Launch Alliance responds to issues raised by rival SpaceX last week over a U.S. Air Force award for 36 USA core Atlas V and Delta IV stages for national security and military payloads. ULA says the large Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle purchase will save money as well as provide a record of launch success.

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