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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. In Washington, the White House threatens to veto a House 2013 appropriations measure that includes NASA’s budget because the legislation challenges a spending agreement struck between Republicans and Democrats last year. Three Apollo vets back a provision in the House version of NASA’s 2013 budget that would force the agency to quickly select a single Commercial Crew Development partner. NASA’s 2013 budget strategy wins an editorial endorsement. A reassessment reaffirms evidence pointing to an asteroid impact as the most likely cause of the dinosaur extinction. Essays urge a multi-destination approach to future human exploration and examine the potential for valuable space resources to drive human exploration. Scientists propose a low cost life detection mission for Mars. Enthusiasm grows at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for a 2014 test flight of the Orion crew capsule that NASA is developing for future deep space missions.
1. From The Associated Press via the Washington Post: The White House and House appropriators are at odds over Republican supported cuts in a multi-agency spending measure that includes Commerce, Justice, NASA and other science agency expenditures for 2013. The White House vowed Monday to veto the bill because it violates a larger budget agreement between Democrats and Republicans struck last summer. The 2013 Commerce, Justice and Science measure is the first to clear the House appropriations process.
2. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: Three Apollo commanders, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell, back a provision in the House version of NASA’s 2013 appropriations bill that calls on the space agency to down select to a single Commercial Crew Development initiative partner. The move, say the Apollo commanders, would give NASA normal government contractor oversight of future development. NASA has favored funding at least two contractors through a third phase of development to nurture competing transportation providers. The three men outlined their concerns in a letter to the chair of the House appropriations panel with responsibility for NASA.
3. From the Philadelphia Inquirer: In an editorial, the Inquirer offers support for President Obama’s civil space strategy and its implementation in NASA’s 2013 budget submittal. The plan nurtures a deep space mission for humans and new commercial opportunities, the editorial notes. While planetary sciences will suffer, NASA is holding the future exploration of Mars as an ultimate goal, the Inquirer writes.
4. From The New York Times: New research suggests the dinosaurs were struggling to thrive against a range of challenges millions of years ago. Yet, the evidence suggests an immense asteroid impact was the primary cause of their extinction about 65 million years ago. The latest evidence was gleaned from the fossil record leading up to the disaster.
5. From Space.com: Distant Stars with “Hot Jupiters,” large planets that orbit close, are unlikely to host Earth-like extra solar planets, say scientists who’ve looked at trends gathered by NASA’s Kepler telescope. These large planets likely formed at a distance from their host stars and migrated close over time. The spiraling course and the gravitational pull of the big planets likely boots anything small out of the system.
6. Two essays from Monday’s The Space Review examine the discord in the space community over whether the moon, Mars or a near Earth asteroid should be the next destination for human deep space explorers and recent commercial interest in prospecting the asteroids for valuable resources.
A. “The Triway into Space Declaration” suggests an alliance among space community factions supporting the moon, Mars or the asteroids as a first next destination for human exploration. All three share a symmetry of requirements from reusable propulsion and habitats to multi use space suits and regenerative life support. Together, they form a chain of destinations with resources and learning experiences for the future development of space. Authors Peter Kokh and Al Anzaldua urge planners to place the International Space Station in a more prominent role in the exploration of all three.
B. “Space merchants and planetary mining,” responds to the recent announcement by Planetary Resources of plans to survey and eventually mine Near Earth Asteroids for resources, including water and precious metals. Essayist Ayodele Fayetole suggests efforts by Planetary Resources and Google X-prize contestants to extract resources from the moon may form a new critical mass for the exploration of space . The lure is new industries, wealth and jobs.
7. From Space.com: A Washington State University scientist proposes a low cost Mars life detection mission that could be ready for lift off in 2018. The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection Mission, or BOLD, would dispatch a half-dozen small probes to check underground conditions at the Red Planet rather than attempt to return soil and rock samples to Earth for analysis.
A. From MSNBC.com: NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographs a series of circulating dust storms on Mars.
8. From Florida Today: United Space Alliance personnel grow excited as they prepare for the assembly of an MPCV/Orion capsule at the Kennedy Space Center for a 2014 test flight. The $375 million flight will expose an unpiloted capsule to deep space re-entry conditions. Lockheed Martin, the Orion developer, will carry out the test mission for NASA.
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