Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 14th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Orion and astronauts testing in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.

Human Space Exploration

Orion testers make one giant leap into Gulf of Mexico

Houston Chronicle (7/13): NASA for the first time incorporated astronauts into tests of its ocean recovery strategy for the Orion capsule that is under development with Lockheed Martin to launch and return astronauts assigned to future mission of human deep space exploration. Four astronauts from NASA’s Johnson Space Center emerged from side and forward hatches of an Orion mockup to demonstrate procedures for getting out of the Orion capsule if a problem develops before U.S. military recovery forces can assist them. The exercise was carried out this week in Galveston Bay, off the Texas Gulf Coast. Orion is expected to splashdown in Pacific waters off the coast of California.

Russia extends selection of candidates for cosmonaut unit

TASS of Russia (7/14): Russia’s Cosmonaut Training Center has extended its call for cosmonaut applicants beyond the original July 14 deadline announced three months ago. With the current level of space development activities, Russia will need to select more applicants for cosmonaut training than initially envisioned, according to Roscosmos, Russia’s state space agency.


Space Science

Strong solar flare and CME (7/14): A large new sunspot erupted Friday with a powerful disruptive solar flare. An associated coronal mass ejection is headed towards the Earth. Weekend geomagnetic storms and high altitude auroral displays are anticipated.

Neutron stars set to open their heavy hearts (5/31): For half a century, astronomers and physicists have looked at pulsars and asked ‘how’? How can something the size of a city pack in more mass than the Sun? How does matter arrange itself to achieve such mind-boggling densities? Answering these questions in the laboratory is impossible. But a space mission due to launch on 1 June could answer some of them. For the first time, astronomers will take a detailed peek into the heavy hearts of these mysterious spinning stars.

Squeezing innovation out of the NASA twins study: Pipetting and cell isolation in space (7/11): Just like early explorers, NASA Twins Study investigators are venturing into new territory. Conducting human omics research on twin astronauts as part of the One Year Mission that took place aboard the International Space Station is one such venture. As technology evolves so does the research. NASA is evaluating more efficient and innovative research techniques to prepare for the journey to Mars.

The annual ISS Research and Development Conference is in Washington, D.C. next week. 

More at:


Space Policy

 House Appropriators approve FY2018 CJS Bill–good news for NASA, mixed for NOAA satellites (7/13): NASA would get a 2018 spending boost under the provisions approved by the U.S. House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Committee late Thursday. The panel approved $19.872 billion, or $780 million more than proposed by the Trump Administration and $218 million greater than the 2017 budget mark. Further deliberations in the House and Senate await. The House appropriations total includes $4.55 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and associated ground systems development and $4.676 billion for space operations, including International Space Station activities and work on a U.S. commercial launch capability for astronauts. The 2018 fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Scott Pace to be National Space Council’s Executive Secretary (7/13): U.S. space policy veteran Scott Pace will serve as the executive secretary of the recently re-instituted White House National Space Council. Pace is currently head of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University in the nation’s capital. In addition to his tenure as NASA’s Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation under previous NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, Pace has served in the Department of Commerce and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


Other News

On-orbit operations the next frontier for space, experts say

Space news (7/13): On orbit manufacturing, assembly and servicing of spacecraft are the wave of the future in near Earth space operations, according to a forecast from Bhavya Lal, of the Institute for Defense Analysis at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, who spoke at a Defense One technology summit.  Orbital debris removal is a key related issue.

Soyuz rocket lifts off with 73 satellites (7/14): A Russian Soyuz rocket has lifted off from Kazakhstan with 73 satellites intended for three different orbits. The cargo includes the Russian Earth observing satellite Kanopus-V-IK , 48 CubeSats for Planet’s Earth observing Dove constellation and eight small satellites for Spire Global’s constellation of Lemur weather satellites. Both Planet and Spire Global are U.S. companies.

Rise to Mars! New anthem expresses hope for Red Planet exploration (7/13): The Mars Society ‘s Rise to Mars, an anthem, urges listeners to back exploration of the red planet. “Dare to Dream! Dare to Strive!” state some of the lyrics.


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