Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 12th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The upper stage for the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System, the Interim Cyrogenic Propulsion Stage, will undergo pre-launch processing in a large facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center once occupied by International Space Station modules as they were prepared for flight.

Human Space Exploration

SLS Upper Stage set to take up residence in the former home of ISS modules (7/11): The upper stage for the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, formally known as the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage, is headed for the final stages of flight processing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The ICPS is likely to see limited SLS duty. NASA plans a transition to the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage.


Space Science

James Webb Space Telescope undergoes final tests

Market Business News (7/11): Designed for observations of the earliest star systems as well as scrutiny of planets orbiting other stars, the James Webb Space Telescope in undergoing pre-launch thermal vacuum chamber testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. After several months of exposure to space like conditions within the chamber, the James Webb will return to California for final outfitting and then move on to French Guiana for a scheduled launch in late 2018 atop a European Space Agency Ariane 5. The large door to the thermal vacuum chamber was closed July 10 to begin the process of removing the air and lowering temperatures to those of deep space.

Cassini’s latest dive through Saturn’s rings reveals spectacular detail

America Space (7/11): Graphic images are emerging from the Cassini spacecraft’s latest dive between Saturn and the large planet’s inner most ring. The ring dives, part of the Grand Finale phase of the spacecraft’s long running orbital mission, will conclude in mid-September as Cassini makes a destructive plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere. Ten of 22 ring dives remain. New images reveal surface features on the small moon Epimetheus and other “ring moons” of Saturn.

‘Kingdom of Saturn’: New documentary dives deep into NASA’s amazing Cassini mission (7/10): “Kingdom of Saturn: Cassini’s Epic Quest” explores this NASA led joint mission with the European and Italian space agencies. Launched in late 1997, Cassini reached the Saturn system in 2004 and maneuvered into orbit. The long running mission that featured observations of Saturn’s active moons Titan and Enceladus is slated to end in September.

Juno spacecraft gets close-up of Jupiter’s Red Spot

Aviation Week (7/11): Free Registration Required: NASA’s Juno mission spacecraft carried out the closest approach ever to Jupiter’s turbulent Great Red Spot late July 10 during the solar-powered probe’s sixth science flyover of the Solar System’s largest planet. The close-up encounter occurred at 10:07 p.m. EDT, as Juno swept 5,600 mi. over the 10,000-mi.-wide storm estimated to have churned into existence possibly more than 350 years ago, according to a space agency preview of the flyover.

If the sun is 93 million miles away, why can’t we look directly at it? (7/11): Here’s why it’s dangerous to look directly at the sun without eye protection — even if it’s the August total solar eclipse.

China’s long march to the moon

Space News (7/10 on line, 6/19 in print): November marks the planned launch date for China’s ambitious Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission, the first by any nation in four decades. The landing site is a volcanic region of the moon’s Oceanus Procellarum. The lander is designed to scoop and drill for samples. The return will loft the samples first to lunar orbit and then on a trajectory back to Earth for recovery.


Other News 

Small satellites driving space industry growth (7/11): The latest annual report from the Satellite Industries Association on revenues derived from Earth orbiting satellites suggests the fastest growing segment of the $260.5 billion industry is small Earth observing spacecraft.

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