In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA weighs the assembly of a second Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) to accelerate the launch rate of the Space Launch System (SLS). A long dormant thruster system on NASA’s very distant Voyager 1 spacecraft comes to life. A new NASA congressional caucus forms to confer with NASA’s next Administrator.
Human Space Exploration
Space News (12/1): NASA is weighing the construction of a second Mobile Launch Platform (MLP) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center launch site for the Space Launch System (SLS), cornerstone of its efforts to resume human deep space exploration. At a cost of $300 million, a second MLP would permit more frequent launches. The SLS could also launch planetary science missions as well as Orion capsules with astronauts aboard and hardware for lunar and Mars missions.
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
Cityam.com (11/29): Lockheed Martin veteran Rob Chambers believes Mars is in the company’s DNA, with a history of involvement dating back to the Viking lander missions of the 1970s. Now, Lockheed Martin would like to establish a Mars Base Camp, a solar powered orbiting lab with human crews assigned to scientific pursuits, including the exploration of the red planet’s surface. NASA’s proposed lunar orbiting, human tended Deep Space Gateway (DSG) could help to serve as a proving ground and departure point to help put a Mars Base Camp in place as soon as 2028, says Chambers.
Albuquerque Journal (12/4): Apollo 17, the most recent journey to the moon by human explorers, launched 45 years ago this Thursday. Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to make the journey, joined fellow NASA astronaut and mission commander, the late Gene Cernan, for three days on the lunar surface. Among the reasons to return to the moon, says Schmitt, is the possibility of mining Helium-3, a fusion power source for the generation of terrestrial electricity.
Coalition Member in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne
GeekWire.com (12/1): Launched in 1977 and now more than 13.1 billion miles from Earth, NASA’s Voyager spacecraft has been experiencing a loss of performance in its attitude control system, the thruster network that points the probe’s communications antennas toward receivers on Earth. As a remedy, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggested reactivating Voyager 1’s trajectory control maneuver propulsion system. Not used since late 1980, the long dormant thrusters built by Aerojet Rocketdyne fired right up last week in response to commands from Earth.
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASA (12/1): The optical and science instrument elements of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) departed a towering Apollo era thermal vacuum chamber test facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on Friday. The observatory is to be flown soon to Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California, where it will be readied for launch between March and June of 2019.
Space.com (12/1): A new study points to the possibility the solar system hosts more habitable environments than thought in the form of planetary bodies with subsurface oceans warmed by tidal heating. Distant Pluto may be among the candidates, which include Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
Space News (12/1): The new congressional NASA Caucus, formed in October and led by Steve Knight, a California Republican, and Marcy Kaptur, an Ohio Democrat, awaits the swearing in of a new NASA Administrator in order to support the needs of the agency and its commercial partners, according to Knight.
TASS of Russia (12/2): Russia successfully launched a Soyuz 2-1b rocket with a military payload from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome early Saturday. The operation did not include the use of a Fregat upper stage, which was blamed for the November 28 loss of a Soyuz mission launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome with a weather satellite and 18 smaller satellites.
GBtimes.com of Finland (12/3): China’s 15th rocket launch of 2017, used a Long March 2D rocket, to launch a remote sensing satellite on Sunday.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/3): In Washington, the U.S. House and Senate are in session with December 8, or Friday, looming as a deadline for action of the 2018 budget. Friday marks the end of the current Continuing Budget Resolution that is preventing federal agencies from shutting down. Elsewhere, Houston hosts its third Space Commerce Conference and Explosion Tuesday through Thursday. Rome is hosting a conference on CubesSats this week. And, in the Netherlands, the European Space Agency is hosting a science conference on NASA’ proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a lunar orbiting, human tended outpost to coordinate lunar surface activities and human missions to Mars.
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