CSExtra – Top Space News for Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20th, 2015

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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Congress deliberates on NASA’s budget and priorities for 2016, including human exploration, planetary science and Earth science. Scientists debate the origins of the Martian moons. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft may carry a message to an advanced civilization. The Hubble Space Telescope transmitted its first images to Earth 25 years ago Wednesday. The U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B is ready for a lift off on Wednesday. The reusable space plane’s cargo includes a NASA experiment and the novel LightSail experiment. Images of the Northern Lights from the International Space Station dazzle. Russian president Vladamir Putin favors new Russian space station. Russian space industry sags in response to Saturday’s Proton rocket launch failure. Lockheed Martin considers new facilities, jobs in Titusville, Fla. Spaceport America may have a new tenant.

NASA 2016 Budget

NASA should be about space

San Antonio News Express (5/19): In an op-ed, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, outlines his reasons for making NASA exploration initiatives a budget priority. The Texas lawmaker’s views are shaped by the last man to walk on the moon, Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan.

The House budget for NASA plants the seeds of a program to finally find life in the outer solar system

Houston Chronicle (5/19): The U.S. House Appropriations Committee will markup a NASA spending bill for 2016 on Wednesday that includes $140 million to ramp up a robotic mission to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa. The measure includes another $86 million for enabling technologies to pursue new missions to Saturn’s moons, Titan and Enceladus, through a new Ocean Worlds Program.

House NASA funding bill proposes a fantastic budget for planetary science

The Planetary Society (5/19): The California-based pro-space organization outlines its support for the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s $18.5 billion budget measure for 2016, one that includes $1.56 billion for planetary science.

House budget cuts NASA Earth science by more than $250 million

Space News (5/19): NASA’s Earth science budget line faces a significant cut over 2015 under the provisions of a NASA spending measure before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. The panel is scheduled to consider the reduction on Wednesday. The overall NASA 2016 budget proposal equals $18.53 billion.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Six men spent 520 days locked in a room to see if we could live on Mars

Motherboard (5/19): In 2010, six men from Europe, Russia and China isolated themselves in a Moscow test facility to experience the isolation of a long mission to Mars. Eager scientists looked on.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Are Mars’ moons homegrown or snatched from the asteroid belt?

Science Magazine (5/19): Phobos and Deimos, are they natural moons of Mars or captured asteroids?

NASA Pluto probe may carry crowdsourced message to aliens

Space News (5/19): NASA’s New Horizons mission spacecraft is on course for a first ever flyby of distant Pluto on July 14. After, the spacecraft may be asked to carry a message from Earth to advanced civilizations.

Happy Birthday Hubble: 25 years of super shots from outer space

USA Today (5/20): Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope began to transmit photos to Earth 25 years ago today.

Low Earth Orbit

Secret vessel to test durability of materials in space, NASA says

New York Times (5/19): The U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B unpiloted reusable space plane is prepared for its fourth launch on Wednesday. Lift off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is planned during a four hour period that starts at 10:45 a.m., EDT. The military mission includes CubeSat secondary payloads that will expose new NASA materials to the space environment and attempt the deployment of the Planetary Society’s latest LightSail experiment.

Tiny solar sail ‘cubesat’ launching with X-37B space plane on Wednesday (5/19): The Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail experiment will ride along as the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B launches into orbit from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on Wednesday. Packed as a CubeSat, the LightSail will test a mechanism for deploying a 32 square meter solar sail 28 days after reaching orbit. Future versions of LightSail would move through space pushed along by photons from the sun.

Stunning time lapse shows the Aurora Borealis from space

Washington Post (5/19): Video from the International Space Station features the Northern Lights, lightning and a sunrise.

Putin orders designing Russian space station – deputy PM

TASS, of Russia (5/19): Russian president Vladimir Putin orders the development of a new Russian space station. A 2024-25 start is envisioned, with the outpost possibly including modules first attached to the International Space Station.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Russian rocket launch failures threaten global space activities

Moscow Times (5/19): Russia’s space industry faces a long simmering crisis, following Saturday’s Proton rocket failure and loss of a Mexican communications satellite.

Lockheed considers 300-employee expansion in Titusville

Florida Today (5/20): Lockheed Martin is looking at Titusville, Fla., as a site for new manufacturing facilities and Space Coast jobs. Talks with local officials involve economic incentives.


Spaceport America attracts much-awaited new tenant

KRQE-TV, of New Mexico (5/19): New Mexico’s Spaceport America talks with a prospective new tenant, X2nSat, the satellite gateway company. The spaceport is seeking new revenue streams while it awaits the start of suborbital space passenger flights.

Brought to you by the Coalition for Space Exploration, CSExtra is a daily compilation of space industry news selected from hundreds of online media resources.  The Coalition is not the author or reporter of any of the stories appearing in CSExtra and does not control and is not responsible for the content of any of these stories.  The content available through CSExtra contains links to other websites and domains which are wholly independent of the Coalition, and the Coalition makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information contained in any such site or domain and does not pre-screen or approve any content.   The Coalition does not endorse or receive any type of compensation from the included media outlets and is not responsible or liable in any way for any content of CSExtra or for any loss, damage or injury incurred as a result of any content appearing in CSExtra.  For information on the Coalition, visit or contact us via e-mail at