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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Declining U.S. government investments in space threaten the nation’s industrial base and security, according to a Space Foundation assessment. NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission can be a valued step toward the human exploration of Mars, according to two space policy, planetary science veterans. China has its eye on the eventual human exploration of the moon. Mars One calls for global research proposals for technologies supporting plans to settle Mars with humans in the mid-2020s. The sun reaches “solar max” in constrained state. SETI prepares two campaigns to listen for signals from intelligent alien life. Gliese 832c looks like a good bet for an Earth-like planet. European spacecraft prepares for complex comet encounter. Launch pad water system issue prompts scrub of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 mission lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., early Tuesday. Orbital Sciences looks to July 11 for launch of next International Space Station re-supply mission. New space station shoe provides data on how humans adjust to weightlessness.
U.S. Space Budgets
The Space Foundation (July 2014): Tracking by the foundation reveals a global drop in government space expenditures in 2013 — all driven by a 9.4 percent decline in U.S. government space spending. On a global scale, all space spending rose to $314 billion in the same year, reflecting a growth rate of 4 percent, fueled by commercial activity. The U.S. government decline erodes an industrial base that has been unable to respond quickly to Russia’s recent threat to halt the export of the RD-180 rocket engine, a fixture in the Atlas V first stage, according to Space Foundation CEO Elliot Holokauahi Pulham. Experts have been sounding a cautionary note on the theme since 1990, he notes.
Human Deep Space Exploration
The Space Review (6/30): NASA’s ARM mission receives a strong endorsement as a step towards the human exploration of Mars from essayists Louis Friedman, the executive director emeritus of The Planetary Society, and Tom Jones, former NASA astronaut and planetary scientist. The two men who helped to conceive of the mission concept suggest ARM addresses key concerns raised by the recent National Research Council report on the future of U.S. human space exploration. The NRC pointed to the need for sustainability in NASA planning. Friedman and Jones note those efforts are hindered by the absence of an “overriding geopolitical rationale.”
The Space Review (6/30): Is China headed for the moon with human explorers? Essayist Dwayne Day explains how past exaggerations of China’s lunar ambitions are settling into a slow but steady trek to the moon.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (6/30): Mars One, the Dutch based non-profit with aggressive plans to settle Mars with humans in the mid-2020s, calls on industry, academia and nonprofits to submit small payload proposals for launching aboard a robotic lander in 2018. The payloads will test technologies for water extraction, solar power production and other assets for early settlers.
New York Times (6/30): The sun has reached the “max” phase of the 11-year solar cycle with little of the “max” usually associated with peak activity. “Perhaps more than anything else, the current maximum has taught solar scientists that they have a lot more to learn about the sun,” the Times reports.
Space.com (6/30): SETI is prepared to kick off two searches using multiple radio telescopes. One is focused on 30 nearby stars, and a second will focus on signals between planets in a single star system.
Coalition for Space Exploration (6/30): Gliese 832c is the nearest and best habitable world candidate to date. Sixteen light years away, Gliese 832 is a red dwarf star. Observations so far suggest the two planets orbiting Gliese 832 are a scaled-down version of our own Solar System. There’s an inner potentially Earth-like planet and an outer Jupiter-like giant planet.
Scientific American (6/30): The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft faces a daunting few months: rendezvous with a distant comet, maneuver into orbit, drop a lander onto its target and follow the comet around the sun.
Low Earth Orbit
NASA (7/1): Efforts to launch NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission satellite from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., were scrubbed early Tuesday due to difficulties with a launch pad water system. The water lowers the damaging acoustic forces that accompany the lift off.
SpaceflightInsider (6/30): Orbital Sciences looks to July 11 for the next commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. A series of changes in the launch date followed the loss of a rocket engine assigned to an early 2015 flight during a test firing earlier this year.
Space.com (6/30): New “ForceShoes” for astronauts aboard the International Space Station are helping scientists understand more about how the human body responds to weightlessness. The ForceShoes, developed by the 3D motion tracking company Xsens, look like electronically enhanced sandals and measure forces along three axes: up and down, front to back and side to side, the website reports.
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