CSExtra – Top Space News for Friday, June 5, 2015

June 5th, 2015

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. A NASA study suggests that Phobos offers a possible gateway to the human exploration of Mars. Researchers show new interest in extracting resources from planetary bodies to support human deep space exploration. President Obama marvels at a Hubble Space Telescope image of a crowded star field. The sun will block communications between the Earth and spacecraft roving or orbiting Mars for much of June. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft should have clear sailing for a July 14 flyby of distant Pluto. The European and Chinese space agencies agree to a joint space weather mission. A major meteor shower surprises the Earth in daylight. Russia says delayed return to Earth of three International Space Station astronauts has been re-scheduled for June 11. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly paces life aboard the International Space Station in order to stay for a year.  The Planetary Society struggles with a second LightSail mission communications lapse. The U.S. House backs a small increase in 2016 funding for the FAA’s commercial space office, a regulatory body.

Human Deep Space Exploration

A manned mission to Mars: How NASA could do it (6/4): Human explorers could reach the Martian surface by 2039 without stressing NASA’s budget, according to a study led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The study opens the door for a precursor mission that would take astronauts to a base on the Martian moon Phobos by 2033. The base hardware for the Martian explorations would be launched using NASA Space Launch System exploration rocket. Details of the plan were presented in May.

NASA looks to in-situ resource use for deep space missions and crews (6/4): NASA has started to cast an eye towards exploiting space resources to reach deep space destinations with humans, according to the report.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Hubble image inspires White House to ponder our cosmos (6/4): President Obama marvels at an image from the Hubble Space Telescope this week that reveals a dense star filled region of the Milky Way about 25,000 light years from Earth.

Sun block: Mars communications will be cut this month (6/4): NASA preps for a loss of signal with spacecraft in orbit and on the surface of Mars for much of June — June 7 to 21 — while the sun blocks the line of sight between the Earth and the red planet.

Pluto probe should have clear sailing amid tiny moons (6/4): NASA’s New Horizons mission team believes their spacecraft can carry out the first flyby of distant Pluto on July 14 without concerns for a collision with an undiscovered moon.

ESA reveals candidates for new space science missions (6/4): The European Space Agency announced plans Thursday to collaborate with China on a mission to monitor space weather interactions between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere. The Solar Wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) mission will aim for a 2021 launching.

Daylight meteor shower (6/4): The Earth encountered a surprise meteor shower this week. The shower is linked to the debris from a past comet breakup. The shower has gone little noticed because its unfolding in daylight.

Low Earth Orbit

Crewmembers from ISS to return to Earth June 11 

Sputnik News, of Russia (6/5): The scheduled return to Earth of three International Space Station crew members on May 13 was postponed following the April 28 failed launch of the Russian Progress 59 cargo mission to the orbiting lab. NASA’s Terry Virts, the station’s current commander; European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Christoforetti and Russian Anton Shkapkerov are now scheduled to descend to Earth on June 11, according to the report based on comments from  Russian federal space agency chief Igor Komarov.

Scott Kelly Checks in from the International Space Station

CBS News (6/4): Kelly reflects on the first weeks of a year-long mission to the International Space Station that began with his launching in late March with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. There’s lots of scientific research and maintenance, says Kelly, who spent about six months on the station several years ago. Kelly says the secret to his long stay is pacing his work.

Power glitch silences Planetary Society’s LightSail solar spacecraft again

NBC News (6/4): The Planetary Society continued with efforts on Thursday to deploy the experimental SolarSail-A from the CubeSat satellite launched May 20 as a secondary payload aboard an Atlas 5 rocket with the U.S. Air Force X-37B unpiloted reusable space plane. Ground controllers believe LightSail’s solar arrays were deployed on Wednesday. However, the spacecraft then experienced a power loss and loss of communications for a second time. With all the difficulties, plans for the LightSail deployment were advanced from June 17 to Friday until the latest loss of communications. Sponsors want to test the deployment ahead of a 2016 follow on mission to demonstrate solar sailing, a potential interplanetary propulsion technique, in high Earth orbit.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

House offers partial budget increase to FAA Commercial Space Office

Space News (6/4): The U.S. House this week included a small increase for the FAA’s Commercial Space Office in its 2016 budget appropriations measure.

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