CSExtra – Top Space News for Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June 3rd, 2015

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. The U.S. House debated a $18.5 billion NASA funding measure late into the night. NASA marks the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. spacewalk as well as Gemini 4, the first manned mission supervised by Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center. Gemini astronaut Ed White’s 23 minute walk is featured in Suit Up, a new documentary. NASA’s much anticipated second test flight of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator slips to Thursday, at the earliest. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft closes in on the giant asteroid Ceres and the minor planet’s mysterious bright spots. Searching for life on Jupiter’s moon Europa means cutting through an ice layer miles thick — unless there are cracks. Scientists say comet impacts are responsible for strange swirls on the moon’s surface. Plans for a late July launching of the U.S./French ocean surveillance satellite Jason 3 are delayed by contamination concerns. The U.S. Air Force calls on industry to bid on new rocket engine development.

NASA’s 2016 Budget

House debates FY2016 funding bill for NASA, NOAA (6/3): The U.S. House debated the 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill with $18.53 billion for NASA late into the night on Tuesday. The measure includes an increase for NASA’s Space Launch System exploration rocket but a cut in Earth science, both trends opposed by the White House. Some legislators urged more for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and more for the Orion crew exploration capsule. Overall, the measure calls for a $519 million increase for NASA over 2015.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Fifty years ago today America walked in space and caught Russia

Houston Chronicle (6/2): NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the Mission Control Center guided its first human spaceflight, Gemini 4, 50 years ago on Wednesday. Jim McDivitt commanded, while fellow astronaut NASA Ed White became the first U.S. astronaut to carry out a spacewalk. The mission advanced U.S. efforts to reach the moon with the Apollo program.

NASA celebrates 50 years of spacewalks

Florida Today (6/2):  NASA Gemini astronaut Ed White floated from his two man spacecraft 50 years ago Wednesday to become the first American and the second human to embark on a spacewalk. The inaugural spacewalk stretched 23 minutes, but it set the stage for human exploration of the moon, upgrades to the Earth orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the assembly of the International Space Station.

‘Suit Up’: NASA documentary hails 50 years of spacewalk history (6/2): NASA on Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. spacewalk, carried out by NASA astronaut Ed White on the Gemini IV mission, with a new documentary, Suit Up.

America’s first spacewalk revisited in 1965 NASA archive video (6/2): Experience the first U.S. spacewalk by NASA’s Gemini astronaut Ed White.

High Pacific waves keep NASA’s flying saucer grounded in Hawaii

NBC News (6/2): NASA bumps to no sooner than Thursday the second test flight of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator from Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. The balloon launched test flight is intended to advance a strategy for increasing the mass of payloads that can be landed on Mars for future soil sample return and human exploration missions.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

New image of Ceres as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft circles the mysterious dwarf planet (6/2): NASA’s Dawn mission spacecraft eases closer to the giant asteroid Ceres, host to a collection of mysterious bright spots shinning from craters on the surface.

How NASA could find life on Europa

Popular Mechanics (6/2): NASA’s planned Europa Clipper mission could reveal whether the ice and ocean covered moon of Jupiter hosts a habitable environment, but not whether there is biological activity.  Probing the ocean would require a spacecraft that could descend below ice perhaps miles thick and still communicate with scientists on Earth. The Clipper will look for cracks, however, that could provide passage ways through the ice for a follow on mission.

Mystery Moon swirls caused by blasts of comet gas? (6/2): Strange swirls noted on the lunar terrain may have been created by small comet impacts, according to a Brown University researcher.

Low Earth Orbit

Launch of U.S.-French oceanography satellite postponed (6/2): Plans for the July 22 launching of a U.S./French ocean monitoring orbital spacecraft called Jason 3 have been delayed to deal with a thruster contamination issue.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

U.S. Air Force opens bidding for new rockets, eyes quick turnaround

Reuters (6/2): The U.S. Air Force calls for bids to support the development of a new U.S. rocket engine. Up to $160 million could be divided among four bidders. The Air Force cites an “urgent need” given that the current rocket source for U.S. national security payloads comes from Russia.

Russia’s space agency urges to expedite transition from Proton to Angara carrier rockets

TASS, of Russia (6/3): Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, must expedite a transition from the Proton to the new Angara heavy lift rocket, according to Igor Kamorov, head of the agency. The venerable Proton has experienced launch failures in May and in 2014.

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