Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 11th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Public, private partnerships gathered in lunar orbit could serve as a U.S. gateway to deep space.


Human Space Exploration

Deep Space Gateway: Boeing design progress

Leonard David’s Inside Outer Space (8/10): A Boeing blueprint features NASA’s Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbiting human habitat with docking facilities and a solar electric power propulsion system. Research and scientific activities on board would help to prepare NASA and its international and commercial partners for future human expeditions to Mars and its moons aboard a Deep Space Transport fashioned from Space Launch System propellant tank hardware. A company representative outlined the plan before a recent Future In Space Operations forum.


Space Science

The largest space telescope ever could study an Earth-like exo-planet next door (8/10): Proxima b, the apparent closest exo-planet in the habitable zone of its host star, promises to become the focus of future observations with the James Webb Space Telescope, the heir to the Hubble Space Telescope. Slated for launching in late 2018, JWST’s powerful infrared optics could offer insight into thermal conditions and perhaps other factors that would reveal the planet’s habitability.

New study says moon’s magnetic field existed 1 billion years longer than we thought

Universe Today (8/10): Previous estimates placed the disappearance of a lunar magnetic field at about one billion years after the moon’s formation, or about 3 to 3 1/2 billion years ago. However new assessments, carried out by researchers from MIT and using moon rocks gathered by the Apollo 15 astronauts, suggest the moon’s magnetic field soldiered on for perhaps another billion years. The findings were published in journal Science Advances

Station-bound instrument to open new chapter in the story of cosmic rays (8/9): CREAM, a cosmic ray observatory flown previously a half dozen times on high altitude balloons, is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard the next NASA contracted commercial resupply mission. Once delivered by a SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule, CREAM will be moved robotically to the outside of the Station’s Kibo Japanese science module. A three year observation campaign is intended to reveal more about the energy levels and origins of cosmic rays largely shielded from the Earth’s surface by the atmosphere.


Other News

 On to Mars — to settle down there (8/10): Op-Ed by James Poulos: Following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, who threw his weight late in his presidency behind the idea of a landing on Mars, the Trump administration has gone on record supporting a manned trip to the red planet. But Trump did not inherit plans for a Martian mission from the previous White House, and so far, the current occupants have yet to produce a scheme of their own. Although, for the sake of showing consistency and commitment, it would make sense to do so, it could be that the most important role for Washington to play is supplementary — leading, if we’ll allow the phrase, from behind.

Review ‘The Farthest’ pays homage to Voyager, and human potential

Los Angeles Times (8/10): The Farthest, a documentary, is an uplifting tribute to the two NASA Voyager missions launched in in 1977 for close-up flybys of the solar system’s most distant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and their fascinating moons. Both Voyagers continue to explore beyond the solar system and with messages aboard for any intelligent life they might encounter.

Calling the moon: Startup to put cellphone tower on the moon (8/10): The German company Part Time Scientists (PTS) envisions a rover landing on the moon near the Apollo 17 landing site in late 2018. PTS intends to communicate with Earth using cell phone technology.

Russia to spend $630 million on launch pad for Angara carrier rocket at Vostochny spaceport
TASS of Russia (8/11): Russia will spend $630 million to complete launch facilities for the new Angara family of rockets at the Voctochny cosmodrome. Commissioning is planned for 2022.


Coalition Member in the News

RS-25 engine flight controller completes 500-second test (8/9): Coalition Founding Member Aerojet Rocketdyne:  On Wednesday, August 9, NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne conducted a 500-second test of an RS-25 developmental engine at the agency’s Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi. The test was used to validate the fourth upgraded engine controller required for the first flight of the Space Launch System (SLS). The RS-25, formerly known as the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME), is being reused for SLS; however, the engine controller – the “brain” of the engine – has been redesigned to reduce weight, to use less power, and to improve reliability.

South El Monte company unveils its parts to help Orion spacecraft reach deep space (8/9): Coalition Member AMRO Fabricating Corp.: AMRO Fabricating Corp. is about to provide NASA quite literally with a window into space. The South El Monte company is constructing three structural segments that will comprise the astronaut module of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, a vessel that’s scheduled to send four astronauts beyond the moon and into deep space by the early 2020s.

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