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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. U.S. lawmakers still divided over debt ceiling, government shutdown that has idled much of NASA and other science agencies. Furloughed workers protest. Boeing selected partner for the manufacturing of fuel tank structures for the Space Launch System. China making gains on U.S. space leadership: might advances be slowed with greater U.S. cooperation? Mars may be within reach of human explorers with current technologies and those on the drawing board, according to a novel assessment. Film Gravity captures beauty, risk of human spaceflight. Gravity lenses and extraterritorial intelligence.
1. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The U.S. continued to move toward default early Wednesday as the House and Senate failed to strike agreements on an extension of the debt limit. The federal government remains shut down. Workers in agencies focused on science and technology, like NASA and NOAA, remain largely furloughed. Meanwhile, the House and Senate have reached an impasse on narrowly defined agreements to re-open some agencies.
A. From Puget Sound Business Journal: Several Washington-based outer space companies are making efforts to work around the virtual closure of NASA as the federal government shutdown grinds on. Aerojet Redmond, for example, has pulled some workers off some NASA-related work because nobody is available at NASA to track the rocket engine builder’s work, said Roger Myers, Aerojet executive director of advanced in-space programs.
B. From the Houston Chronicle: Furloughed workers protest the U.S. government shutdown that has idled much of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Both political parties share blame, say protesters on Tuesday.
C. From the Bay Area Citizen, of suburban Houston: “We want to bring awareness that federal employees want to work,” said Bridget Broussard-Guidry, president of Local 2284 NASA/JSC chapter of American Federation of Government Employees, who was among the protesters. “We don’t want to be furloughed. We provide a service to the American people and we want to continue to provide that service. End the shutdown now. Bring a vote to the floor to re-open the government.”
D. From the Planetary Society: Despite the U.S. government furlough, NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers on Mars, the Cassini mission in orbit around Saturn and the Jupiter bound Juno probe continue to operate and gather science. Regular public information channels, however, remain shut down. The Planetary Society offers some alternate web links to check in with the missions.
2. From HisbanicBusiness.com: Boeing has selected ESAB Welding & Cutting Products as a partner in the manufacturing of fuel tank structures for NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS).
3. From Space.com: China is gaining on the U.S. in space, writes former International Space Station commander and NASA astronaut Leroy Chaio in an op-ed. Some traditional U.S. partners are gravitating toward Beijing because it promises space at a lower cost, he writes. While it still can, the U.S. should invite China to the international table, Chaio urges. “The problem is, it may already be too late,” he adds, pointing to Congress as the obstacle.
A. From AmericaSpace.com: If not officially, China appears to have its sights set on Mars as a future destination for its astronauts. Beijing marked its first 10 years of human spaceflight this week. The decade featured a spacewalk and the launch of a human tended space station. By year’s end, China plans to launch an unpiloted lunar rover. “The rapid rate with which this communist nation has developed its own human space program and raised it to fruition…has been truly dramatic and breathtaking to behold,” writes AmericaSpace.com.
B. From Spaceflightnow.com: China’s first decade of human spaceflight was marked by a handful of aggressive missions that have Beijing poised to launch a Skylab style space station. China, however, has carefully managed the openness with which it carries out its orbital activities.
C. From Space.com: SpaceX, the U.S. commercial rocket launch services company, eyes China as its chief global rival.
4. From Space.com: Mars is in reach of human explorers with current technologies, according to science fiction writer Douglas Turnbull in an op-ed. Turnbull takes a look at who has what and how the technologies and plans could be merged to make the journey. They come from commercial and international providers.
5. From Popular Mechanics: The space thriller Gravity remains among the top feature films after two weeks in U.S. theaters. Gravity conveys the beauty as well as the risk of spaceflight, writes Tom Jones, the former NASA astronaut. “Watch Gravity and you’ll know why astronauts eagerly sign up for the next launch,” adds Jones.
6. From Universe Today: Signs of interstellar communications facilitated by gravitational lensing could be a promising sign of extraterrestrial intelligence, according to a Belgian researcher.
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