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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space-related happenings from around the world. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, dies after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Problems interrupt a re-docking of a Russian Progress cargo ship with the International Space Station during a rendezvous system test. NASA joins with the U. S. Geological Survey to mark the 40th anniversary of the Landsat Earth observation program. GenCorp and DigitalGlobe acquire and merge with U. S. rivals in the rocket propulsion development and space reconnaissance fields. A NASA inflatable heat shield flight test unfolds successfully. Is climate change subtle but significant? Two essays ponder a seeming slow up in the pace of human space exploration and the significance of commercial operations to piloted spaceflight.
1. From The New York Times: Educational advocate and physicist Sally Ride, America’s first female astronaut, dies of pancreatic cancer. Ride, who launched aboard a 1983 NASA space shuttle mission, was 61. After a second flight a year later, Ride pursued other professional interests and served on investigative panels for the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia tragedies.
A. From The Washington Post: President Obama finds Ride an enduring source of inspiration. “Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come,” said Obama. At 32 when she launched, Ride was also the nation’s youngest astronaut.
B. From The Los Angeles Times: The opportunity for Sally Ride to join NASA’s astronaut corps came in the late 1970s, when NASA turned to scientists and engineers as well as test pilots to operate the new space shuttle. In her professional pursuits beyond NASA, the Los Angeles native started the website, www.sallyridescience.com, devoted to inspiring the nation’s youth to study math and science. “Sally Ride broke barriers with grace and professionalism and literally changed the face of America’s space program,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
C. From USA Today: “Ride was more than just a physicist, educator and astronaut,” USA Today noted, recalling Sally Ride’s 1983 shuttle flight. “She carried the hopes and aspirations of a generation on the flight, a symbol of the ascent of American women in our nation’s working life.”
2. From CBS News: Russia’s un-piloted Progress 47 space freighter abruptly aborted a re-docking with the International Space Station late Monday at a distance of nine miles. The cargo capsule un-docked Sunday for an overnight test of an upgraded docking system under development by Russian experts for use aboard future Soyuz crew transport and Progress cargo ships. Another attempt to re-dock is not expected before Tuesday, and possibly not until July 28-29. The Progress launched and docked with the station initially in April delivering nearly three tons of supplies.
A. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Russia’s Mission Control looks to a second attempt to re-dock the Progress 47 using the upgraded docking system on July 28-29. The timing would follow the rendezvous and berthing of an unpiloted Japanese space freighter launched on July 20.
3. From Space.com: NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey marked the 40th anniversary of the Landsat Earth observation program on Monday. The multi-satellite initiative has opened the significance of Earth observation from space to two generations of professionals involved in global land use, climate change, agriculture and environmental preservation.
4. From The Los Angeles Times: Sacramento, Calif., based GenCorp. will acquire rocket engine maker Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., for $550 million. United Technologies Corp., parent to Rocketdyne, announced plans for a sale in March.
A. From The Denver Post: DigitalGlobe, of Longmont, Colo., and GeoEye, Inc., of Herndon, Va., agree on a merger, establishing the world’s largest fleet of high resolution, Earth imaging satellites, the Post reported.
5. From Space.com: NASA successfully tests an inflatable heat shield technology with a suborbital rocket launch from Wallops Island, Va., on Monday.
6. From the New York Times: In a message to the presidential candidates, columnist Thomas Friedman urges the winner to fashion America into the Cape Canaveral of the 21st Century, a place that fosters innovation through education, investments in research and development and favorable economic and immigration policy. “We can’t stimulate or tax-cut our way to growth. We have to invent our way there,” writes Friedman in an op-ed.
7. Two essays from Monday’s The Space Review ponder the pace of human space exploration and the role of humans in exploration during the rise of commercial space.
A. In “Confronting the universe in the 21st Century,” science fiction writer Sylvia Engdahl finds humanity understandably reluctant to move on — a change from her earlier perspective.
B. In Commercialization or normalization?” Wayne Eleazer, a retired U.S. Air Force propulsion and GPS program manager, finds NASA’s commercial crew space transportation initiative bringing healthy changes to human space flight. There’s a lower cost and a more practical role for humans in important space missions, he writes.
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