CSExtra – Top Space News for Wednesday, June 25, 2014

June 25th, 2014

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Might the Martian moon Phobos become a destination for human explorers as they reach for the red planet? NASA struggles to justify a larger budget even when supported by the majority of Americans. NASA’s Curiosity rover reaches an exploration milestone after a productive Martian year, of 687 Earth days, on the red planet. Saturn’s moon Titan may have been assembled from materials that pre-date its home planet. The productive French alien planet hunting mission, CoRoT, draws to a close. The University of Maryland establishes a research effort to stem orbital debris. NASA prepares the Orbiting Carbon Observatory for a July 1 lift off on a mission to study carbon emission patterns. Rocket engine inspections may clear Orbital Sciences’ next resupply mission to the International Space Station for a July 10 lift off. Op-ed suggests too many financial reporting requirements could slow fixed price efforts to re-establish a U.S. human launch capability. Colorado works to maintain a space leadership position as the Pentagon and NASA change their spending practices.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Ahead of Congressional Hearing, NASA Floats Phobos Pit Stop on Road to Mars

Space News (6/24):  A NASA official suggests the Martian moon Phobos could become an intermediate stop for humans as they make their way to the Martian surface. The notion surfaced earlier this week as Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s advanced exploration division, briefed the NASA Advisory Council. Cusan will speak before the co-chairs of the recent National Research Council report on the future of U.S. human exploration at the U.S. House Science Space and Technology Committee. The House hearing is set for Wednesday.

Answers To `Why Explore Space?

Aviation Week & Space Technology (6/24): NASA seeks an elusive formula of public support to underpin the future human exploration of space. Americans are reluctant to invest more despite an overall favorable opinion of the space agency and its missions.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

What Has Curiosity Rover Accomplished After One (Martian) Year on Mars?

Newsweek (6/24): NASA’s Curiosity rover marked a Martian year in Gale Crater on Tuesday, or 687 Earth days. Still roving, Curiosity counts the discovery of past environmental conditions favorable for the rise of microbial life among its accomplishments. More to come despite unanticipated wheel wear.

Titan’s Building Blocks Might Pre-date Saturn

NASA: Astronomers from the U.S. and Europe find evidence that Saturn’s moon Titan was constructed of solar system materials that existed before its host planet came into being. Titan has been characterized as a “primordial Earth.”

French exoplanet mission ends after seven years (6/24): France calls an end to the CoRoT mission. Launched in 2006, the spacecraft pioneered the use of the transit method in the search for alien planets. NASA’s Kepler space telescope has successfully leveraged the technique. CoRoT appears to have succumbed to space radiation.

Low Earth Orbit

Research Center Launched to Combat Space Junk Menace (6/25): The University of Maryland establishes the Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research to study the accumulation of space debris in Earth orbit. It’s the small stuff that can get you, satellite operators soon discover.

NASA to Tally-Up Earth’s Carbon From Orbit (6/25): NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission spacecraft was developed to reveal how the Earth deals with the carbon dioxide gas emitted into the atmosphere on a global scale. The mission launch is scheduled for July 1.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Engine inspections on tap for next Antares rocket (6/24): Technicians will inspect rocket engines on the Orbital Sciences’ Antares rocket awaiting a potential July 10 lift off on the next commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station. The flight has been held up by an investigation into a launch pad engine explosion. The engine, damaged during a test firing, was assigned to a 2015 space station resupply mission.

New Restrictions on NASA Contracts Compromise U.S. Leadership in Space

The Huffington Post (6/24): Relax the pending U.S. Senate-imposed constraints on the Commercial Crew Program portion of NASA’s 2015 budget, writes Mike Lopez-Alegria, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut, outlines concerns that financial reporting requirements in the Senate version of budget legislation could slow efforts by the U.S. commercial sector to begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station.

Why are space companies flocking to Colorado?

CNBC (6/24): Colorado finds its space leadership position challenged as NASA and the Pentagon alter the way they do business. Competition from other states picks up as well.

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