Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 14th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA works to sustain technical strides from recently cancelled Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Human Space Exploration

NASA closing out Asteroid Redirect Mission

Space News (6/14): NASA is closing out the once planned Asteroid Redirect Mission in compliance with direction from the White House and 2018 budget planning. Fostered by the Obama Administration, ARM was to robotically capture a large boulder from the surface of an asteroid and maneuver the rock into orbit around the moon, where it was to receive a visit from astronauts launched aboard a Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule. The agency, however, intends to continue advancing some key technologies involved in the ARM mission for future human deep space exploration, including solar electric propulsion. NASA officials discussed the status during a meeting of the Small Body Assessment Group Tuesday at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Study suggests increased cancer risk on Mars missions (6/13): A University of Las Vegas study suggests the cancer risk to astronauts in deep space from galactic cosmic radiation may be twice previous estimates. Findings are reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

Robotic Russian resupply freighter on the way to Space Station (6/14): Russia’s Progress MS-06 cargo capsule was on course to reach the International Space Station early Friday, following a liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday at 5:20 a.m., EDT.  On board are three tons of supplies for the Station’s astronauts and cosmonauts.


Space Science

When we go to Mars, will we have a real-life HAL 9000 with us?

Smithsonian Magazine (6/13): The on board HAL 9000 computer played a thorny nemesis in the science fiction movie classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, by standing in for Mission Control for a handful of astronauts in the Jovian system. A more congenial version of the space super computer, however, might be a crucial part of a future U.S. led human Mars expedition.

Astronomers just achieved something Einstein said was impossible

Washington Post (6/13): Astronomers prove Einstein correct once again as they demonstrate that a star’s mass can be calculated by how much it distorts with gravity the light from a second star behind the first.

Comet likely didn’t cause bizarre ‘wow!’ signal (but aliens might have) (6/13): Experts question a proposed explanation for the 40 year-old WOW signal, an unexplained radio transmission detected by an Ohio State University radio telescope. If not a comet, 266P/Christensen discovered in 2006, what was the source?

China to ‘plant’ potatoes on the moon (6/14): China’s Chongqing University will lead an effort to place a module with potato seeds and silkworm larva on the moon as part of the planned 2018 Chang’e 4 mission. The research effort to determine their survival of the seeds and larvae is a step in Chinese efforts to establish a human lunar colony.


Other News 

Boeing, DARPA to base XS-1 space plane at Cape Canaveral (6/13): XS-1, the reusable space plane under development by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Boeing, will operate from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The XS-1 would launch vertically like a rocket without a crew, deploy an upper stage after traveling beyond the edge of space, then return to a landing on a runway for inspections and reuse.

Boeing to restructure defense, space unit

Reuters (6/13): Boeing announced Tuesday a restructuring of its defense, space and security division to become more customer responsive.

World View’s stratospheric balloon mission for KFC isn’t just about a chicken sandwich (6/13): World View, the Tucson, Ariz., based commercial high altitude balloon company, plans to expand its flight envelope with the June 21 launch of a four day, test flight with Kentucky Fried Chicken as a commercial participant.  With development, the Stratollite version of the balloon will carry commercial, science and national security payloads. The Voyager version will loft space tourists.

Russia plans to launch new Soyuz-5 carrier rocket in 2022

TASS of Russia (6/13): Russia and Kazakhstan, host to the launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, agree to cooperate in development activities for the Soyuz 5 launch vehicle. The effort could lead to an inaugural launch of the new rocket in 2022.

‘What the hell happened?’ The rise and fall of suborbital space tourism companies

Space News (6/13): Enthusiasm in 2004 over the future of human suborbital commercial space flight linked to the Ansari X-Prize competition won by Scaled Composite has faded.  Participants and investors are still seeking an explanation.


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