Space Review: SLS, SBSP, ExoP’s and the RPB (Red Planet Blues)

Phobos-Grunt in preparation. (Credit: Roscosmos)

This week in The Space Review….

Red Planet blues
With Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft all but dead, Russian scientists are making plans for future missions even as the president of Russia threatens prosecution for those involved with the failure. Dwayne Day examines what Russia should, and should not, do to reinvigorate its planetary exploration program.

The SLS: too expensive for exploration?
The Space Launch System, NASA’s new heavy-lift vehicle, has not met with universal acceptance since the design was formally announced in September. John Strickland argues that the SLS, as currently conceived, will be too expensive to support the exploration missions and other applications envisioned for it.

Making the case, again, for space-based solar power
Space-based solar power is a concept that has strong support from a small number of space advocates, but little attention or funding from broader audiences. Jeff Foust reports on a new study that offers optimism for the future of space solar power even as the political landscape for supporting it becomes even more challenging.

EU Code of Conduct: commentary on Indian concerns and their effects
A European Union proposal for a “Code of Conduct” for space activities has run into opposition from some countries, including India. Michael Listner discusses what Indian officials find objectionable in the code and the options for handing those concerns.

Review: Journey to the Exoplanets
The search for extrasolar planets has become one of the fastest-paced areas of astronomy, with over 700 such worlds now discovered. Jeff Foust reviews an iPad app that provides a multimedia look at some of those worlds and the science behind the search.