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The BBC reports that Japanese scientists have found particles inside the sample return capsule of the Hayabusa spacecraft that completed its seven-year round trip journey to asteroid Itokawa last month. They do not know for certain yet, however, whether they are from the asteroid or Earth.
Jeff Foust has a really good write-up about the new national space policy in The Space Review this morning.
Speaking of what he described as one of the seven pillars of a reformed industrial policy for space at the Department of Defense (DoD), Brett Lambert, Director of Industrial Policy at DoD, said that the former view of a monolithic organism is no longer valid and that "a more nuanced, sophisticated approach to industrial policy" is needed. At a recent event hosted by the George C. Marshall Institute at the National Press Club, Lambert gave the keynote to discuss the future of the space industrial base, with particular emphasis on its implications for national security.
Lambert said that "space is a unique animal" and that many of the assumptions that guide policies in other areas are therefore not valid. Acknowledging on the one hand the budgetary constraints of U.S. engagement in two wars, as well as the fact that "we are where we are" and not facing a clean slate, forces policymakers to look for realistic answers to the problems that continue to threaten an eroding industrial base. Those include the loss of critical skills in an ageing workforce, and the departure of second and third tier suppliers due to a lack of stability and policies that hinder their ability to compete globally.
It's a relatively quiet week in Washington with Congress in recess and most people at the beach, but for those who want to venture out into our horrid weather, here are a few events that are going on. Also, a NAC task force will be meeting in beautiful Boulder, CO. For more details, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below.
Wednesday-Thursday, July 7-8, Washington DC
Thursday, July 8, Washington, DC
Thursday-Friday, July 8-9, Boulder, CO
Russia's Progress M-06M spacecraft successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS) today. The first attempt, on Friday, failed because of a radio interference problem.
This time NASA says the docking was "executed flawlessly by Progress' Kurs automated rendezvous system." NASA calls the mission "ISS Progress 38" because it is the 38th Progress to visit ISS, but there have been many more Progress flights than that in the history of the program, which dates back to 1978 and Russia's (then the Soviet Union) Salyut 6 space station. Progress 1 was the first spacecraft to execute automated in-space propellant transfer, refilling Salyut 6's tanks.
The Russian space agency and NASA will make a second attempt to dock a Progress spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday. The scheduled docking time is 12:10 pm EDT. The spacecraft, which NASA calls Progress 38 but is formally designated Progress M-06M, aborted its first attempt at docking on Friday.
NASA reports that Russian specialists determined that radio interference caused the Progress automated rendezvous system, Kurs, to abort the docking or "cancel dynamic operations." The interference was between Kurs and a backup manual docking system aboard the space station designated TORU. The abort occured when the TORU television system was activated, as it usually is in case a manual docking is required. The report did not say why the two systems interfered this time, but stated that the Kurs system itself did not fail. Instead, it did what it should have done under the circumstances.
Everyone else may be on vacation next week, but the National Research Council will be hard at work!
On Wednesday and Thursday, July 7-8, the Committee on Earth Studies of the Space Studies Board (SSB) will meet and hear from NOAA, USGS and NASA officials on the status of their activities, as well as experts at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) on the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor (TSIS). See the agenda for details. It will be in room 105 of the NRC's Keck Building at 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC.
A Russian Progress spacecraft failed to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) today. According to tweets by NASA, the spacecraft lost its telemetry lock on the space station and safely flew past at a distance of 3 kilometers. NASA and the Russian space agency are examining options, but NASA says no further docking attempts will be made today.
In 1997, a Progress spacecraft collided with Russia's Mir space station while two Russians, Vasily Tsibliyev and Alexandr Lazutkin, and American Michael Foale were aboard. The Mir crew successfully secured the space station, although the module that was impacted, Spektr, could never be used again.
As expected, NASA has reset the dates for the final two scheduled space shuttle missions. STS-133 (Discovery) is now expected to be launched on November 1, 2010 (instead of in September) and STS-134 (Endeavour) on February 26, 2011 (instead of November 2010).
With the slip into the second quarter of FY2011, additional funds may be needed for the shuttle program above what is requested in the President's FY2011 budget. That shuttle funding request included $600 million to cover shuttle operations only for the first quarter of FY2011.
Space News has a thought-provoking op-ed by John Logsdon this week. Dr. Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University, is the "dean" of space policy analysts and the Apollo era is a particular speciality. He also was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
Events of Interest