CSExtra – Top Space News for Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June 2nd, 2015

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stresses the need to research faster deep space propulsion during a recent Aerojet Rocketdyne visit. An op-ed suggests future human exploration of the moon and Mars go hand in hand. NASA’s ‘flying saucer” flight test may pave the way for more ambitious Mars missions, including human landings. Experts examine the protective heat shield from NASA’s Dec. 5 unpiloted Orion crew exploration test flight. Europa beckons: But at what cost? The Planetary Society looks to accelerate LightSail-A solar sail deployment. NASA’s alien planet hunter William Borucki shares a science prize. Cassini sweeps by Saturn’s spongy moon Hyperion. Russia’s failed April 28 Progress M-27M/59 International Space Station re-supply mission loss was triggered by contact with the 3rd stage of its Soyuz launch vehicle, according to Russian investigators. Russia intends to announce a new schedule for space station crew and cargo operations next week. Canadian astronauts Jeremy Hansen, David Saint-Jacques are in line for International Space Station missions.  Blue Origin earns editorial praise for April 29 test flight. Russia’s Vostochny launch site construction prompts Kazakhstan to consider upgrades to the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Human Deep Space Exploration

NASA chief wants to cut Mars travel time in half (6/1): NASA Administrator Charles Bolden stressed the need for investments in advanced in space propulsion during a recent visit to Aerojet Rocketdyne facilities in Canoga Park, Calif.  He called for technologies that could cut the eight month travel time from Earth to Mars in half. Solar Electric Propulsion, using higher power levels, shows promise, Bolden said during the May 28 stop. Nuclear propulsion is another prospect.

The Moon and Mars: a flawed article’s false choice

The Space Review (6/1): In the future human exploration of space, Mars and the moon go hand in hand, writes David Whitfield in an essay that examines the risk of each as a next destination for astronauts. “With an integrated approach, we can open two new worlds to humanity, two new worlds that will drive human ingenuity as we rise to meet the challenges they bring,” says Whitfield, consultant and technical writer.

NASA’s flying saucer ready for 2nd test flight (6/1): Tuesday opens a two week primary window for NASA’s second test flight of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator in Hawaii, a demonstration that could greatly increase the weight of payloads that could be launched to the surface of Mars. The space agency’s ability to support astronauts launched to Mars and a precursor mission to robotically return samples of Martian soil and rock could rest on the outcome.

Analysis of Orion heat shield nears completion at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Spaceflight Insider (6/1): Experts from throughout NASA have gathered at Marshall to evaluate the heat shield that launched aboard Exploration Flight Test-1, the Dec. 5 first unpiloted test of the Orion crew exploration capsule.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

What price Europa? 

The Space Review (6/1): TSR editor Jeff Foust examines the surging enthusiasm for a robotic search for life mission to Europa, the ice and ocean covered moon of Jupiter.  There could be a price to pay by Earth science and perhaps other NASA missions — if their budgets decline. But then, what if the Europa Clipper confirms there is life beyond the Earth?

NASA scientist: Why Europa fascinates me

Zocalo Public Square via Houston Chronicle (6/1): Robert Pappalardo, project scientist for NASA’s developing mission to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon, Europa, explains his fascination with possibility of discovering life in the outer solar system. “There’s a kid somewhere right now, hanging models of the planets from a bedroom ceiling, who will help to decipher whether Europa is everything I hope it is,” he writes.

LightSail solar sail prototype back in action after glitch (6/1): The Planetary Society’s LightSail CubeSat experiment, which lost communications with ground controllers two days after a May 20 lift off, checked in on May 30 as backers had hoped. Mission managers are hopeful they can advance the deployment of the satellite’s novel solar sail as soon as June 3 — rather than wait to the originally scheduled June 17.

Shaw Prizes hail hunt for habitable planets

Science Insider (6/1): NASA’s William Borucki shares a prominent science prize for his contributions to techniques for discovering extra solar planets and the Kepler mission that successfully demonstrated his proposal.

Cassini gets final, stunning view of Saturn’s moon Hyperion (6/1): NASA’s long running Cassini orbiter at Saturn snapped perhaps its final image of the spongy looking moon Hyperion earlier this week.

Low Earth Orbit

Progress failure blamed on unforeseen interaction with upper stage

Space News (6/1): Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, points to unanticipated contact between the Progress M-27M International Space Station re-supply capsule and the third stage of its Soyuz- 2.1 launch vehicle as the cause of an April 28 launch failure. The capsule, with more than three tons of undelivered space station supplies, made a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on May 7.

Roscosmos to decide on revised 2015 launch schedule next week

Sputnik News, of Russia (6/1): Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, points to June 9 for a decision on a new schedule of Soyuz crew launches to the International Space Station and landings as well as Progress cargo mission launches. The changes were prompted by the April 28 launch failure of the Progress M-27M/59 ISS resupply mission. The capsule re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on May 7 with more than three tons of undelivered supplies. A Russian investigation points to a problem with the capsule’s separation from the third stage of the Soyuz launch vehicle.

More Canadian astronauts heading to space

Global News, of Canada (6/1): Canadian Space Agency astronauts Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques are in line to live and work aboard the International Space Station, according to the report. Their launches, set to occur no later than 2019 and 2024, are linked to new Canadian contributions to the NASA managed station program.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Editorial | Blue Origin shows its stuff

Space News (6/1): Blue Origin, the new space venture, receives praise in an editorial for an April 29 West Texas test flight that demonstrated the company’s capability to undertake the development of a commercial domestic alternative to Russia’s RD-180 rocket engine, upon which the U.S. relies to launch national security payloads.

Kazakh space agency says Baikonur Cosmodrome restructuring needed

TASS, of Russia (6/1): Kazakhstan weighs upgrades to the Baikonur Cosmodrome, long the chief launch site for Russian and former Soviet space missions, commercial, military and scientific, including the departures of astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station. Russia is rushing to complete the construction of a new domestic launch complex, the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

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