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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. White House to propose $17.5 billion 2015 spending plan for NASA on Tuesday afternoon — enough to maintain current priorities, including a human deep space initiative as well as introduce Europa and Dark Energy missions. Is a human 2021 Mars flyby the right fit for NASA? Summing up the challenges of a U.S. led international effort to reach Mars in the 2030s. NASA: Best friend of New Space? Reflections on space and the U.S. Civil Rights movement. China’s Yutu lunar rover copes with mechanical difficulties. Europe struggles with Exo Mars mission plans. NASA’s Opportunity rover paying tribute to Mariner 6 mission heroes. Jupiter shines. Tensions over Ukraine could prompt difficulties between the U.S. and Russia over the International Space Station, caution experts. In search of the perfect protein crystal. NASA embraces Gravity’s Oscar winning success. NASA takes on cancer with space station research. China points to second stage fuel line blockage as cause of December Long March 4B launch problems.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Aviation Week & Space Technology (3/3): NASA will seek $17.5 billion in 2015 spending, according to documents outlining the president’s budget request scheduled for presentation to Congress on Tuesday. The request will continue funding for the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and Orion crew capsule, while adding efforts to define an unmanned mission to Europa, keep the James Webb Space Telescope on track for a late 2018 lift off and prepare a second Mars rover based on Curiosity for a lift off in 2020.
NASA (3/3): With heavy winter weather expected in Washington, NASA elects to preview its 2015 budget proposal in a teleconference. The streamed presentation will begin at 1 p.m., EST.
The Space Review (3/3): Congress is growing more eager to hear from the White House and Congress on a long term human space exploration agenda, writes TSR editor Jeff Foust. That eagerness was signaled at a U.S. House Science, Space and Technology hearing last week that featured the proposed 2021 launch of a Venus/Mars flyby mission with two astronauts, he writes.
The Space Review (3/3): If Mars is the overarching mutual goal of the world’s space community, there are collective steps it should be taking now, according to a summary report on an affordable missions workshop conducted in mid-December in Washington and hosted by the American Astronautical Society and Explore Mars, Inc. Plans assume NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket, Orion crew capsule and the International Station will be key assets. Other assumptions include global support from government, academia and the aerospace industry and two decades of steady policy and budgets, write Harley Thronson and Chris Carberry, who represent the workshop sponsors.
America Space (3/3): The U.S. is in need of long term, stable funding and policy supporting a goal of reaching Mars with U.S. human explorers in the 2030s. The objective includes financially and politically supportable interim missions for NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and Orion crew capsule, both of which are under development. However, a U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing on Feb. 27 produced skepticism over a proposed Venus/Mars flyby mission in 2021. Congressional support for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission seems uncertain as well.
Spaceflight Insider (3/2): Jason Rhian’s column finds constructive ties linking NASA and the New Space movement. Case in point, Inspiration Mars has turned to NASA for the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket and Orion crew vehicle as crucial to a proposed human Venus/Mars flyby mission.
The Huffington Post (2/28): NASA physician/astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who became the first black woman to reach space in 1992, explains how space exploration and the space agency made important but often overlooked contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Today Jemison leads the 100-Year Starship project, a movement to lead humanity to the stars.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
The Planetary Society (3/3): Current mobility problems with China’s Yutu lunar rover developed as the solar powered device entered a planned dormancy period on Jan. 25, or its second two week period of darkness. The rover emerged from dormancy on Feb. 12, revealing a control circuit malfunction which effects the wheels and motion of the solar panels.
Spaceflightnow.com (3/3): The European Space Agency steers a steady course for the launch of its first planetary rover, Exo Mars, which is planned for a 2018 lift off on a Russian Proton rocket. But the funding equation is a challenge. NASA, the European’s previous partner, sharply curtailed its Exo Mars participation in 2012 because of funding issues of its own.
Space.com (3/3): The story behind the next move for NASA’s Opportunity Mars Exploration Rover. The McClure-Beverlin Escarpment on Mars is named for two men whose bravery headed off pre-launch trouble for Mariner 6. The pioneering NASA Mars orbiter lifted off on a successful mission on Feb. 25, 1969.
Space.com (3/3): Jupiter is shining brightest in the night sky. Where, when to observe.
Low Earth Orbit
NBC News (3/3): Tensions over Russia and the Ukraine could lap over into the International Space Station, where the U.S. and Russia have forged a long running partnership with Europe, Japan and Canada. NASA, however, must rely on Russia for orbital transportation and crew rescue for at least 3 years. On the other hand, Russia relies on the U.S. to provide power and communications to its station modules. The U.S. should begin to look hard at options for reducing its reliance, writes James Oberg, who offers some suggestions.
Popular Mechanics (3/3): If tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the Ukraine produced a rift over the International Space Station, NASA would be hard pressed to accelerate an alternative to the Soyuz missions that transport astronauts to and from the six person orbital outpost, the magazine reports. On the other hand, the U.S. and Russia have much to gain by working cooperatively, says one expert.
New York Times (3/4): NASA’s support for the growing of protein crystals in space continues over 25 years, with scientists still attempting to determine whether the absence of gravity on orbital platforms like the space shuttle and International Space Station is a plus for the development of new medications.
Wired.com (3/3): NASA embraces the success and the drama of Gravity, financially successful, now the winner of multiple Oscars and in the eyes of some, flawed by artistic license.
NASA takes on cancer with space station research
TG Daily (3/4): Using the distinctive microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station, a particular series of research investigations is making further advancements in cancer therapy. A process investigated aboard the space station known as microencapsulation is able to more effectively produce tiny, liquid-filled, biodegradable micro-balloons containing specific combinations of concentrated anti-tumor drugs.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space News (3/3): The China Great Wall Industry Corp identifies the cause of a December Long March 4B launch failure as a clog in the fuel intake of an upper stage engine. The Chinese/Brazilian CVERS-3 Earth observing satellite failed to achieve a proper orbit as a result.
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