Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 7th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. space leadership will include human missions to the moon and Mars, Vice President Mike Pence said in remarks Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Human Space Exploration

Vice President Mike Pence vows to make space program great again

CBS News (7/6): Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the recently re-established National Space Council, toured the Kennedy Space Center Thursday and vowed to renew American leadership on the high frontier.  “For nearly 25 years, our government’s commitment seems to have not matched the spirit of the American people,” he said. “But I’m here to tell you, that as we still enter this new century, we will beat back any disadvantage that our lack of attention has placed, and American will once again lead in space for the benefit and security of all of our people and all of the world.”

Pence: ‘We will put American boots on the face of Mars’

The Hill (7/6): U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s pledge to put American boots on Mars as part of a new era of space exploration fired up workers during a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday. “Here from this bridge to space, our nation will return to the moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.” Pence told employees assembled within the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Orion deep in processing for EM-1, planning for following missions (7/6): As U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), one of the welcoming party, the Orion crew module, is fast taking shape ahead of its Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) flight. With major processing milestones – such as the mating of the heatshield with the Crew Module, NASA managers are already thinking ahead to future flights involving Orion.

Problems aside, NASA moves toward SLS structural testing at Marshall (7/5): Early in May, workers discovered that the forward liquid oxygen tank dome had been damaged during welding, raising concerns the item would be useless for structural tests planned at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. However, engineers from NASA and prime contractor Boeing have now cleared the dome for use and completed repairs to the MAF’s specialized friction stir welding assembly.

How NASA uses telemedicine to care for astronauts in space

Harvard Business Review (7/6): Telemedicine has become a staple of health care for the astronauts assigned to five to seven month missions aboard the International Space Station. In the absence of gravity, the body’s bones and muscles weaken. Fluids redistribute differently and the immune system degrades. The astronauts correspond with health care specialists on Earth using long distance diagnostics and prestaged medications and interventions.


Space Science

Mars soil may be toxic to microbes (7/6): Perchlorates, a chemical compound found in multiple places on the Martian surface, could make the red planet toxic to microbial life forms in the presence of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, according to researchers who published their findings July 6 in the journal Science Reports. NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander discovered an abundance of the chemical in the soil and ice of the planet’s northern latitudes in 2008.

Fastest stars in the Milky Way are galactic fugitives (7/5): The Milky Way has some speedy stars. Turns out they are fugitives from binary star systems in a neighboring galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud.  Explosive breakups send the binaries flying away from one another, some out of the LMC and into the Milky Way.

Spacecraft unveiled for first Europe mission to Mercury (7/6): The European Space Agency on Thursday unveiled its Bepi Columbo spacecraft, a probe developed to explore Mercury, the closest planet to the sun. Japan and U.S. companies are partners in the mission, which is planned for a 2018 launch.


Other News

XCOR Aerospace lays off remaining employees

Space News (7/6): Struggling XCOR Aerospace confirms layoffs at company facilities in Midland, Tex., in order to preserve some company projects.

Japan’s moon ambition faces skeptical public

Nikkei Asian Review of Japan (7/7): The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency faces a skeptical public in the aftermath of remarks outlining plans for placing Japanese astronauts on the moon.  Some experts predict enthusiasm will grow as more details emerge.

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