Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 9th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA marches toward December 2019 for first Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion test launch. Vote on President Trump’s nomination of Jim Bridenstine to lead NASA moves to the full U.S. Senate.

Human Space Exploration

NASA sets December 2019 date for first SLS launch

Space News (11/8): NASA is protecting a December 2019 launch goal for Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first combined test launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew capsule. Earlier this year, NASA said it could not meet a planned November 2018 launch date and was re-evaluating the schedule, which the agency acknowledges could slip to June 2020. With the EM-1 slip, NASA intends to move up a launch test of Orion’s Launch Abort System, which had been expected to follow the first SLS/Orion launch.

Bridenstine nomination approved by Committee on party-line vote (11/8): Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to head NASA moved to the full U.S. Senate for consideration on Wednesday, following a 14-13 vote by members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee. A date for a vote by the full Senate has not been set.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX suffers a rocket-engine failure during testing

Washington Post (11/8): An upgraded SpaceX Merlin rocket engine encountered a mishap during a November 4 test firing at company facilities in McGregor, Texas, the company acknowledged on Wednesday. The Merlin is also to power the planned Falcon Heavy as well as the Falcon 9 for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. SpaceX pledged a transparent investigation into the incident and stated that it would not affect future launch plans.


Space Science

Proxima Centauri has a cold dust belt that could indicate even more planets

Universe Today (11/7): Proxima is the next star over and home to the nearest exoplanet, Proxima b.  There may be more planets, suggests the discovery of a big dust belt around Proxima that is not unlike our asteroid and Kuiper belts.

Fractured, watery core key to Enceladus’s long-lived ocean (11/8): 3-D simulations suggest Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a long lived ocean because of a tidal forces exerted by the large ringed planet and because the moon has a porous core. The combination of factors allow heat to be transferred from the core to an icy outer shell and contribute to geyser like eruptions. Enceladus may host potentially habitable environments. The analysis by European and U.S. scientists was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


Other News

Stephen Hawking’s latest doomsday prediction: Earth could go to hell by 2600 (11/7): Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking has a new warning for humanity. There could be too many of us on Earth by the year 2600 and too few resources. He believes humanity must work to settle other planetary bodies.

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