Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 5th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Vice President Mike Pence will chair the National Space Council re-established by President Trump before Independence Day. The council includes a new user advisory panel.


Human Deep Space Exploration

Trump reestablishes National Space Council (6/30): An executive order from President Trump has re-established the National Space Council, a cabinet level group of administrative personnel responsible for coordinating U.S. space policy. In its new iteration, the panel will also have a user’s advisory panel with representation from the U.S. aerospace industry. The council has been impaneled and dismantled since the late 1950s. The council was last functional during the George H. W. Bush administration. Vice President Mike Pence will chair.

At last, a National Space Council. Now what?

The Space Review (7/4): The re-established White House National Space Council will include a users’ advisory group. The panel will work with Vice President Mike Pence, the council’s chair, to help formulate space policy. Still awaiting action from the White House are the naming of a council executive secretary and nomination of a NASA administrator. Meanwhile, NASA continues to advance plans for a Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbiting habitat to prepare astronauts and hardware for new missions deeper into the solar system.

The future of deep space propulsion may soon be radically altered

Seeker (6/30): Solar electric propulsion is emerging as a key technology for the future human exploration of deep space. Experts from NASA and the agency’s commercial partners in the development endeavor discussed their efforts before the U.S. House Space Subcommittee last week.

Canada reveals two new astronauts during 150th anniversary celebration (7/1): Lt. Colonel Joshua Kutryk of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Jenni Sidey, an engineer and lecturer at the University of Cambridge in Britain, were introduced July 1 as Canada’s newest astronauts. They will train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center starting in August. They join the Canadian Space Agency’s current astronauts, David Saint-Jacques and Jeremy Hansen. The newcomers were selected from 3,772 applicants.


Space Science

Dragon capsule returns home with animals and Space Station equipment (7/3):  A cargo rich in science experiments returned to Earth early Monday, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast to conclude the 11th NASA contracted SpaceX cargo mission to the International Space Station. Many components of the Dragon capsule had flown previously as part of a September 2014 SpaceX re-supply mission to the Space Station.

New driving algorithm helps protect Curiosity rover’s wheels

Spaceflight Insider (7/4): Traction control software uplinked to NASA’s Curiosity rover is limiting damage to the six wheels as they roll over rocks during the climb up Mount Sharp on Mars. The one ton rover landed in August 2012 and soon discovered evidence of past environmental conditions suitable for bacterial activity on the red planet.


Other News 

Launch of China’s heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket declared a failure (7/2): Chinese plans to mount a robotic lunar sample return mission later this year, Chang’e 5, were clouded Sunday by the failed launch of the country’s most powerful space launch vehicle, the Long March 5. The large rocket also figures in China’s plans to assemble an Earth orbiting space station and launch a Mars rover in mid-2020. A Long March 3B, launched June 18, failed in its mission to place a communications satellite in the proper orbit as well.

Chicken sandwich returns to Earth after balloon ride to stratosphere (7/1): World View’s planned four day test flight of the commercial Stratollite high altitude balloon ended after 17 hours. However, the Tucson, Ariz., based company measured success from the longest test flight this year, including operations of the proprietary balloon altitude control system, solar electric power system and high definition video communications. More test flights are planned, and a space tourist version of Stratollite called Voyager is under development to carry passengers to high altitudes.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of July 2-7, 2017 (7/2): The U.S. House and Senate are in recess as the U.S. marked Independence Day this week. Vice President Mike Pence, who will head the newly established National Space Council, is to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, amid some speculation he may speak about the space agency’s direction.


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