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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest in reporting and commentary on space-related activities from around the world. Budget reductions will prompt a lengthy break in the launch of new Martian rover missions. NASA’s communications lead outlines the agency’s exploration blue print. New solar activity unleashes a blast toward the Earth. NASA’s Aqua Earth observing mission reaches a 10-year milestone. The U.S. Air Force/Boeing X-37B exceeds expectations during orbital mission. NASA looks to amateur astronomers for help with an asteroid sample return mission. Houston prepares a big welcome for a shuttle mock up destined for public display.
1. From Space News: New Martian rovers missions before 2020 are unlikely because of budget cuts, NASA’s new Mars strategist informs the NASA Advisory Council on Tuesday. The space agency’s budget, facing a 2013 reduction, might support a stationary lander, says Orlando Figueroa, who is leading an assessment of the options. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory is headed toward and early August landing on Mars and a two year mission.
2. From The Hill: As NASA ‘s shuttle orbiter fleet heads for museums in U. S. major cities, NASA is headed toward a new era of exploration, David Weaver, the agency’s associate administrator for communications, explains in an op-ed.
A. From The Huffington Post: Space tourist Richard Garriott finds promise in NASA’s turn to commercial providers for access to Low Earth Orbit. Though the process is disruptive to the status quo, it offers a promising future not only for wider human access to space but future exploration, Garriott writes.
B. From Florida Today: Now is the time to determine the commercial potential of science research in space, especially in medicine; and the National Laboratory portions of the International Space Station are the place to make the determination, according to the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, the non-profit organization selected by NASA to lead the effort. CASIS plans to solicit research proposals for launch opportunities as soon as next year.
3. From Discovery.com: A new large sun spot unleashed a coronal mass ejection towards the Earth late Monday. The impact is expected early Wednesday. More solar storms may be in store.
4. From the Orlando Sentinel: NASA and SpaceX, one of the agency’s Commercial Crew Development initiative partners, reach a milestone in the configuration of the astronaut version of the company’s Dragon capsule.
5. From Wired.com: NASA’s Aqua Earth observing spacecraft marked its 10th anniversary in orbit earlier this month. The spacecraft has been a key instrument in the gathering of weather and climate data.
6. From Space.com: The U.S. Air Force’s second X-37 B draws praise as the un-piloted mini-shuttle reaches the 430 day mark in its classified mission. The reusable spacecraft was developed by Boeing Phantom Works.
7. From Sky and Telescope Magazine: NASA’s Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource — Identification Security — Regolith Explorer mission seeks help from amateur astronomers in characterizing a class of primitive carbon rich asteroids. The OSIRIS-Rex is working toward a 2016 lift off of their mission to return a small sample from an asteroid in the class by 2023.
8. From the Friendswood Journal of Texas: Space Center Houston is looking to June 1 to celebrate the arrival of a space shuttle mock up that will accommodate visitors. The shuttle display will be shipped from the Kennedy Space Center
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