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The space ministers of the European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) met on November 25 in Brussels, Belgium for the seventh time since the two organizations signed a framework agreement in 2004. The two groups have overlapping, but not identical, memberships. The EU is a political body, while ESA is technical. The two have worked together on the European Galileo navigation satellite system and the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program for several years.
The Space Council meeting took place as part of a meeting of the Council of the European Union on "Competitiveness (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space)." A press release from the EU said that the Council "endorsed a resolution on the orientations to be taken so that Europe can continue to develop world-class space infrastructures and applications, and to rely on efficient space systems to serve its citizens." The Galileo and GMES programs were given special emphasis.
UPDATE: NASA TV showed the egress of the crew live and a version of the video is available on the NASA TV YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/NASATelevision
CORRECTION: The Twitter URL has been corrected. It is an underscore rather than a hyphen in astro_wheels.
A particularly nifty one is a photo of him in the cupola looking down at Earth. Another shows the Soyuz capsule that will bring him and colleagues Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin home, with Earth in the background. Undocking remains scheduled for 8:23 pm EST, with landing in Kazakhstan at 11:46 pm EST.
Three members of the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 25 crew are getting ready to return home tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day. Soyuz TMA-19 is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 8:23 pm EST and land in Kazakhstan at 11:46 pm EST (10:46 am November 26 at the landing site).
NASA astronauts Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker will be aboard, along with Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, who will be commander of the Soyuz during descent. One American, Scott Kelly, and two Russians, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, will remain on the ISS and be joined by three new colleagues in mid-December. That crew, which will launch from Kazakhstan on December 15 EST (December 16 in Kazakhstan), is composed of Russian Dmitry Kondratyev, American Cady Coleman, and Italian Paolo Nespoli, representing the European Space Agency.
The rest of us may be busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, but NASA is hard at work. The agency has scheduled a press conference for 2:00 pm CST (3:00 EST) this afternoon to update everyone on the launch of Discovery.
The press conference will follow a space shuttle program requirements review control board meeting to discuss the progress of repairs associated with two cracks in "stringers" on Discovery's external tank. The press conference will be shown on NASA TV. Bill Gerstenmaier and John Shannon are the briefing participants.
For anyone who won't be preparing Thanksgiving dinner or watching the Macy's Day parade tomorrow at 16:00 European time (10:00 am EST), the European Space Agency (ESA) and European Union (EU) will be webstreaming a press conference about their seventh Space Council meeting. The meeting of ESA and EU ministers in charge of space activities will take place that day in Brussels, Belgium.
According to ESA's press release, the theme of the meeting is "Global Challenges: Taking Full Benefit of European Space Systems." ESA says the theme "reflects the important synergies that can be created to benefit Europe's citizens when placing the technical expertise provided by ESA at the service of a range of EU policies."
Space shuttle managers feel that more analysis is needed before they can clear space shuttle Discovery for its final launch. The launch was scrubbed twice in November and slipped to no earlier than December 3. Shuttle program manager John Shannon said at a press conference today that it will not be ready for the December 3-7 window at all. The next window, December 17-20, is an option, but he is not sure they will be ready by then either. If not, the launch will have to wait untl February.
Two cracks were found in "stringers" on Discovery's external tank after the tank was filled and emptied several times during the previous launch attempts. NASA needs time to do additional analysis to ensure that cracks do not develop during ascent and cause foam to be shed. Damage to the space shuttle Columbia orbiter from external tank foam shedding caused Columbia to disintegrate during reentry in 2003, killing all seven aboard.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the first commercial reentry license to SpaceX, which plans to use its Dragon spacecraft not only to take cargo and crew to the International Space Station, but back to Earth as well. A test to demonstrate that capability is planned for next month.
The FAA was given regulatory authority over commercial reentry, in addition to its existing authority to regulate launches, in the 1998 Commercial Space Act (P.L. 105-303) At the time, Lockheed Martin was developing a commercial single-stage-to-orbit vehicle called Venturestar as a successor to the space shuttle. NASA partnered with Lockheed Martin on the program, agreeing to invest about $1 billion in research and development (the NASA program was designated X-33). Technical hurdles proved difficult to overcome and Lockheed Martin declined to contine funding the program on its own once the NASA cap was reached. The exact amount Lockheed Martin paid into the program is unclear.
A National Research Council (NRC) report that assesses impediments to collaboration on space and earth science missions recommends that unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, agencies should not partner on them. The report was released today.
The committee that wrote the report was co-chaired by Dr. James Baker, former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Dr. Daniel Baker, Director of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Dan Baker also is a member of the NRC's Space Studies Board and co-chair of the ongoing NRC Decadal Survey on solar and space physics.
Women in Aerospace (WIA) held a panel discussion on Thursday, November 18, 2010, about the The Future of Human Spaceflight: Prospects, Programs and Educating the Pipeline. Read a SpacePolicyOnline.com summary of the meeting by looking on our left menu under Our Meeting Summaries, or simply by clicking here.
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