Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 1st, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Timing is a critical factor as the United States prepares and carries out a transition plan for human space exploration beyond the International Space Station.

Human Space Exploration

Pondering the future of the International Space Station

The Space Review (7/31): By year’s end, the International Space Station will have been staffed continuously for 17 years, enabling NASA and its global partners to achieve the original goal of a multiuser, in many ways state of the art science laboratory in orbit. What’s next? The NASA authorization act signed into law earlier this year calls on the agency to establish a transition plan by December 1 with updates every two years thereafter. Currently operations are to end in 2024. One outcome would transition the hardware and/or the mission to the private sector. Some worry, though, that could lead to an unwanted “gap” in U.S. human spaceflight, writes TSR editor Jeff Foust. Others suggest an urgency in establishing a what’s next for the nation’s human exploration efforts.

Getting NASA astronauts safely out of Orion (7/31): The high speeds U.S. astronauts will attain as they return to Earth from deep space in NASA’s Orion capsule make ocean landing and recovery after a parachute descent a necessity. Recently, astronauts rehearsed procedures for egressing, or climbing out of Orion, in the gulf waters off Galveston, Texas.

Wisconsin cork company helping with NASA project

Associated Press via Fox 11 News of Green Bay, Wisconsin (7/31): Amorim Cork Composites, of Trevor, Wisconsin, is among more than a dozen small companies in the state that are providing components for future NASA missions. Amorim’s cork is part of the heat shielding for the Orion crew exploration capsule.


Space Science

Kepler data may hold a Neptune-sized surprise, our first exo-moon

Ars Technica (7/31): An anticipated research paper suggests that NASA’s exo-planet hunting Kepler space telescope may have detected its first exo-moon, one surprisingly large — Neptune sized. This object may orbit Kepler-1625B, a planet categorized as a super-Jupiter, at 10 times the mass of our Jupiter.

Fake solar eclipse glasses are flooding the market: How to stay safe (7/31): A rare total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 should be visible over a wide swath of the U.S. stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. However, experts urge viewers to don protective eyewear before looking at the sun as the moon moves across its face. In response, counterfeit eye ware is flooding the consumer market. The article explains the safety standard and links to trustworthy suppliers and vendors.


Other News

The space junk problem is about to get a whole lot gnarlier

Wired (7/31): With thousands of small satellites in the pipeline for launch before 2025, the orbital debris issue seems destined to grow more serious. Tracking defunct satellites or the debris they leave from collisions or internal failures is a challenge for the U.S. military. An international convention states that operational satellites should destructively re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere 25 years after their functional lives comes to an end. Compliance, however, is quite low because of the cost.

The stars, my inspiration

The Space Review (7/31): Contributor Dwayne Day examines the reasons that space and spaceflight have such power to inspire, a notion explored in written science fiction but other mediums as well, including video and audio as well as the night sky itself.

Get an up close and personal look at Jeff Bezos’ relaunched rocket

Popular Mechanics (7/31):  Blue Origin’s five time flown New Shepard rocket was a crowd pleaser at the recent Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure show. The company display included a mockup of the crew capsule.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of July 31- August 11, 2017 (7/31): In Washington D.C., the U.S. House is in recess through Labor Day. The Senate is in session. Upcoming are the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah, August 5-10, and NASA’s ISS Stakeholders Workshop, in Washington D.C., August 9.

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