CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June 16th, 2015

Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. A NASA sponsored Mars mission simulation has six volunteers eager for the feel of the wind, taste of fresh fruit.  ABC to debut a docudrama based on the best-selling book The Astronaut Wives Club on Thursday.  Who speaks for Earth? A legal expert offers an alien contact opinion. Europe’s Philae lander makes a second contract with Earth, following a long silence. Eager scientist looks for fast track to Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io. Will Congress, the White House ever see eye to eye on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program?  Sierra Nevada looks to Huntsville, Ala., for commercial cargo mission landings.  Space Florida, a stage agency, reaches an agreement with NASA to oversee multi-user activities at the Kennedy Space Center’s former shuttle runway. The U.S., Russia vie for access to a potential equatorial launch complex in Brazil.

Human Deep Space Exploration

After 8 months on ‘Mars’, crew missed wind, peaches

Newser via USA Today (6/15): After eight months of isolation on a Hawaiian volcano as part of a NASA sponsored experiment simulating a Mars mission, six U. S. and Canadian scientists discussed what they missed most.  Along with friends and family it was the feel of the wind, the taste of fresh foods like watermelon and long showers. The male and female participants ranged in age from 26 to 39 years. The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation experiment was the longest-lasting U.S. space simulation. In August, six others are begin a year-long simulation.

‘Astronaut Wives Club’ co-star talks being spaceman’s spouse on ABC series

CollectSpace (6/16): The 10 episode The Astronaut Wives Club television series debuts Thursday, June 18, on ABC. The docudrama features the wives of NASA’s Mercury 7 astronauts.  “Given that the series centers (at least at first) on the Mercury program, comparisons have, and continue to be made between it and the movie The Right Stuff. Do you think that is reasonable?” Collect Space asked actress Erin Cummings, who plays the wife of astronaut Deke Slayton. “I think the correlation between The Astronaut Wives Club and The Right Stuff is appropriate, given that we’re telling the opposite side of the coin,” said Cummings. The new series is based on the best-selling book by Lilly Koppel.

Legal implications of an encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence

The Space Review (6/15):  Under current legal agreements, who would speak for Earthlings if there was an alien encounter, even an exchange of communications. It appears the United Nations would be the arbiter, with the General Secretary rising to the occasion as spokesman, according to Babak Shakouri Hassanabadi, an international legal expert, in an essay.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Europe’s Comet Lander Philae Makes 2nd Contact after Waking Up

Associated Press via NBC News (6/15):  Europe’s Philae lander, perched on the distant comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko since November, broke a long radio silence Sunday night for the second time in two days. Experts believe Philae bounced into the shadow of a cliff as it landed on the comet on Nov. 12. The shadow prevented the lander’s solar arrays from recharging batteries that power the communications system.

Engineers seek to stabilize radio link with comet lander (6/15): The Philae lander is in good shape, following 210 days of silence on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, according to European Space Agency officials who briefed the status of the Rosetta mission at the Paris Air Show. The agency’s engineers will attempt to reposition the Rosetta mission spacecraft, which is flying close to the comet, in order to re-establish a continuous communications relay link to Earth.

Exploring Jupiter’s Volcanic Moon Io on Just $615,000 a Day 

Space News (6/15): Arizona State University professor Alfred McEwen is eager to initiate a mission to Jupiter’s volcanically active moon Io.  To accelerate the prospects of forming a mission, the researcher is touting a NASA Discovery class mission capped at $450 million, rather than waiting for a shot at a New Frontiers mission capped at $1 billion.

Commercial to Orbit

The commercial crew crunch

The Space Review (6/15):  With Washington and Moscow at odds over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, U.S. congressional deliberations over NASA’s 2016 budget seemed likely this year to move beyond an annual roadblock that prevents NASA’s Commercial Crew Program from obtaining the funding it needs. The agency is seeking to guide the development of competing commercial launch services for the transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station by 2017. Though House and Senate deliberations over next year’s budget are not yet complete, the White House and Congress appear far apart on the matter. The division has already delayed efforts to initiate the launches in 2015.

Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser could make Huntsville the first commercial landing site for space craft

Huntsville Times (6/15):  Sierra Nevada is pursuing a contract with NASA for the launching of cargo to the International Space Station, and is studying the Huntsville International Airport in Alabama as a potential landing site. Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Sierra’s Dream Chaser spacecraft is a winged lifting body designed to lift off atop a rocket and glide to a runway landing.

State approves deal to take over KSC’s shuttle runway

Florida Today (6/15):  Space Florida, a state agency, reached an agreement Monday with NASA to assume control of the former space shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center. The pact, which could span three decades or longer, is part of KSC’s transition to a multi-user spaceport.

Exclusive: Russia, U.S. competing for space partnership with Brazil

Reuters (6/15): Russia and the U.S. emerge as rivals in a bid to partner with Brazil for a new commercial equatorial launch site.