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Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 9th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA teams with Virginia company to explore nuclear thermal propulsion option for future human deep space exploration.


Human Space Exploration

Nuclear reactors on rockets may fuel future crewed trips to Mars

New Scientist (8/8): Working with BWX Technologies of Lynchburg, Virginia, NASA has begun work on a reactor for a possible nuclear thermal rocket that could serve as a propulsion source for the human exploration of Mars. The work is proceeding under a two year, $18.8 million contract.

 

Space Science

East Coast launches to resume Sunday, with science-heavy Dragon mission to Space Station

America Space (8/8): A wide ranging payload of science experiments and technology demonstrations is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station Sunday aboard SpaceX’s 12th NASA contracted re-supply mission. The launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is scheduled for 12:56 p.m., EDT.

New Horizons’ next target may be binary pair

Spaceflightnow.com (8/8): NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made history with the first ever flyby of distant Pluto in 2015. The spacecraft’s next target, 2014 MU69, may actually be two or more objects, according to recent ground based observations. A January 1, 2019 flyby may solve the issue.

Space Station robot installs Neutron Star Explorer: Watch the time-lapse video

Space.com (8/8): NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer was recently installed outside the International Space Station to study the family of dense stars. The installation was accomplished using Canadian furnished Space Station robotics.

Gorgeous images of the August 2017 Partial Lunar Eclipse

Universe Today (8/8): On Monday, parts of Europe and Africa experienced a partial lunar eclipse. Striking images serve as a warm up for the widely anticipated total solar eclipse visible from much of the U.S. on Aug. 21.

Russian launch services operator eyes lunar mission in early 2020s

SpaceflightInsider.com (8/8): Russia is looking to the launch of secondary mission payloads to the moon in the early 2020’s.

 

Other News

SSL, NASA get closer to servicing satellites in LEO

Via Satellite (8/8): Space Systems Loral clears a NASA preliminary design review in efforts led by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center to develop Restore-L, a satellite that is to carry out a refueling demonstration mission to another satellite. A 2020 launch is envisioned. The demo could spur a new satellite servicing industry.

Cubesat reliability a growing issue as industry matures

Space News (8/8): There’s much global enthusiasm over the promise of small satellites. However, the reliability of the innovation of launching smaller, less complex and expensive satellites to take on tasks that range from communications and Earth observations to distant planetary exploration is still in question, according to a key NASA technologist in a presentation before the 31st Annual Conference on Small Satellites.

Smallsats need small propulsion. Boston startup Accion has a few big ideas

Space News (8/8 online; 7/3 in print): Boston based Accion Systems launches the development of an ion propulsion system for small satellites, with venture capital and funding from the Department of Defense.

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