Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 3rd, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA safety personnel assess Orion launch pad escape procedures.

Human Space Flight

NASA tests ensure astronaut, ground crew safety before Orion launches

NASA (11/1): This week astronauts and safety personnel at NASA’s Johnson Space Center assessed escape procedures that will be used to ensure Orion crews can quickly exit their spacecraft while it is still on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They must be able to do so within two minutes using a launch pad access arm 300 feet above the ground.


Space Science

The new Mars rover has more cameras than any before it (11/2): NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry a record 23 cameras to the Red Planet, some of them capable of 3-D imaging. That compares with NASA’s Curiosity rover with 17 cameras and the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers with 10 each. Mars 2020 is to gather and cache samples of Red Planet rocks and soil for eventual return to Earth.

Juno aces eighth science pass of Jupiter, names new project manager

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (11/2): NASA’s Juno mission maneuvered into orbit about the solar system’s largest planet on July 4, 2016. This week, spacecraft communications confirmed that Juno carried out its eighth close pass over the planet’s cloud tops on October 24. A solar conjunction delayed confirming transmissions from the solar powered spacecraft. NASA also announced that JPL’s Ed Hirst will succeed Rick Nybakken as mission project manager.

Earth’s ozone hole shrivels to smallest since 1988

Associated Press via New York Times (11/2): Still sizable, the Earth South Pole ozone hole maxed out in September at its smallest since 1988, a good outcome, according to NASA’s Earth Science division.


Other News

House Science Committee Chairman to retire

Space News (11/2): U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, of Texas, chairs the House Science Committee, which has a policy oversight role for NASA. On Thursday, Smith, who has supported NASA human exploration initiatives, announced he will not seek re-election next year bringing his leadership role to an end.

China’s secretive spaceplane may launch in 2020

Ars Technica (11/2): China plans operations of a runway to runway Earth orbiting reusable launch vehicle, according to statements from Chinese officials published in Xinhua, the country’s state news service.

SpaceX to restore damaged Cape Canaveral launch pad to service in December (11/1): SpaceX plans to resume use of launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in early December. The pad was heavily damaged in a pre-launch explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on September 1, 2016. The incident occurred during fueling for a pre-flight, hold-down engine firing.

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