Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 20th, 2017

Extra will be on hiatus beginning tomorrow through January 1. We will return Tuesday, January 2, 2018. Happy holidays to all!

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA plans more research on the human response to deep space travel. U.S. ambassador to Russia foresees “limitless” prospects for cooperation between the two countries in the exploration of space. NASA has scheduled a planetary science announcement on Wednesday.

Human Space Exploration

How will the 3 year Mars mission affect humans? NASA wants to find out

The News Minute (12/20): Proposals are due in early January for a new round of studies by NASA focused on the health challenges of human deep space exploration, including round trip voyages to Mars that could span two to three years. The long-running research is to focus on the effects of space radiation, differences in gravity, isolation and confinement and the distance from Earth. Study selections are expected in the late summer of 2018.

Russia to launch space freighter to ISS under two-rotation scheme for first time

TASS, of Russia (12/19): Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, plans to attempt the quickest delivery yet of cargo to the six-person International Space Station in early February. The Progress MS-08 will launch on a two-orbit trajectory that will cut the time from launch to docking to about three hours. Typically, Russian resupply missions range from four orbits/six hours to 34 orbits/two days. If the three-hour strategy works, Soyuz missions with cosmonauts and astronauts could use it as well.

US, Russia have ‘limitless’ potential to continue space cooperation – Envoy

Sputnik International, of Russia (12/19): Early Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman declared “limitless” potential for the two nations to cooperate in future space exploration despite significant political differences. His remarks accompanied the docking of Russia’s Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft to the International Space Station with three U.S., Russian and Japanese astronauts. In September, the U.S. and Russia announced plans to work cooperatively on NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a lunar orbiting habitat. The DSG is intended to facilitate lunar surface exploration and serve as a depot for future human missions to Mars.


Space Science

NASA Is picking finalists for a space mission. here are its options

New York Times (12/19): What comes next after NASA New Frontier’s New Horizons mission to Pluto, Juno to Jupiter and Osiris Rex to gather a sample of the asteroid Bennu and return it to Earth? NASA will announce finalists for a fourth New Frontiers mission on Wednesday. Possible outcomes include a mission to Venus, Jupiter or Saturn by the mid-2020s.

Exclusive: NASA has begun plans for a 2069 interstellar mission

New Scientist (12/19): Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory envision a mission launched in 2069, the 100th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, that would travel 4.3 light years to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, and its system of possibly habitable planets. The long journey will depend on technologies that don’t exist yet.

Oddball object tumbling among the stars could disrupt planetary science (12/19): Oumuamua continues to intrigue astronomers as it darts through the solar system. Discovered in October, the fast-moving object has been declared an interstellar comet or asteroid. Identifying the object’s characteristics accurately with powerful telescopes could potentially help experts determine how planetary systems beyond the solar system evolve.


Other News

Blue Origin a year away from crewed New Shepard flights

Space News (12/19): Jeff Ashby, the former NASA astronaut and Blue Origins’ director of safety and mission assurance, discussed the prospect of the first New Shepard suborbital passenger flight a year from now at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Bloomfield, Colorado, on Monday. The company’s New Shepard carried out a successful West Texas test flight on December 12.

Virgin Galactic signs SpaceShipTwo research flight deal with Italian space agency

Space News (12/19): The Italian Space Agency plans to launch a research experiment and a trained payload specialist on Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital launch vehicle in 2019, George Whitesides, the company’s CEO, told the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference., on Monday.

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