Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 8th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Apollo 16 commander, Gemini and space shuttle pioneer John Young has died. Russia evaluates an airlock contribution for NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG).  Veteran planetary scientist urges hard look at lunar water resources.

Human Space Exploration

Legendary astronaut John W. Young dies (1/6): As a NASA astronaut and Navy aviator, John Young traveled twice to the moon during Apollo, co-piloted the first Gemini mission and commanded the first space shuttle mission. A guardian of safety, Young sometimes forcefully advocated changes in the aftermaths of two shuttle tragedies. His death in Houston was announced early Saturday by NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and attributed to complications associated with pneumonia. Young was 87. He walked on the moon in April 1972 as the commander of Apollo 16. Young was the first to travel six times to space in a career.

Hey Scott Kelly, shall we move to another planet?

Popular Mechanics (1/5): Recently retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly compares a fanciful vision of humans in space from 1952 with the realities he experienced over the 520 days he logged in space over four launches, including almost a full year aboard the International Space Station on his final flight. “For us to live off the Earth or out of our solar system permanently, it might take 100 million years,” notes Kelly, who chronicled his experience in the book Endurance.

Why can’t male astronauts see in space? NASA, Texas researchers aim to find out

Houston Chronicle (1/5): As NASA astronauts began to spend longer periods of time in the absence of gravity aboard the International Space Station, they began to experience changes in vision, men more than women. Some of the changes remain after they return to Earth. Researchers are diligently pursuing the causes, including whether the changes are associated with a shift in bodily fluids from the lower torso to the head and chest.

New ISS member Norishige Kanai eager to explain mission experiments to followers on Earth

Japan Times (1/6): Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai has been steeped in medical and other experiments since launching to the International Space Station with two others on December 19 for a 5 1/2 month tour of duty. Kanai tells reporters from his Japanese homeland that he’s adapting to weightlessness and is eager to work harder.

Russia pushing to partner with NASA on lunar gateway

Ars Technica (1/5): NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway (DSG), a lunar orbiting human habitat, is finding a prospective partner in Russia. Russia has had its own goals of placing cosmonauts on the lunar surface by 2031. The DSG, a depot for human missions to the moon’s surface as well as deeper into the solar system, is to be assembled with components launched aboard the first NASA Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion missions. Russia is assessing an airlock contribution.


Space Science

How much water is on the moon?

Air and Space Museum Magazine (1/5): A number of lunar science missions point to the prospect for water ice at the poles of the Earth’s moon, a potential resource for future human explorers. However, estimates of the quantities vary greatly and the accessibility is uncertain. Lunar scientist Paul Spudis discusses what’s known and what’s needed to be known to erase the uncertainties — surface missions at each pole of the moon to survey the terrain first hand.

New Method aids search for dazzling alien worlds (1/6): Using observations made with NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers are pioneering a new technique for detecting hard to spot extra solar planets. The technique, measuring differences in the light coming the day and night sides of planets, has produced 60 discoveries so far.


Other News

Sierra Nevada clears Dream Chaser test milestone

Space News (1/5): Sierra Nevada Corp has completed a final contract milestone in efforts initiated in 2012 to develop a crewed version of Dream Chaser, the company announced on Friday. The achievement unfolded on November 11 as the winged, reusable spacecraft was dropped from a helicopter at 3,750 feet and glided to a landing 60 seconds later at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The company is currently working under contract to NASA on a cargo version of Dream Chaser that is to begin resupply missions to and from the Space Station in 2019.

France, Germany studying reusability with a subscale flyback booster

Space News (1/8): France and Germany look to collaborate on Callisto, a European initiative to develop a reusable launch vehicle. First flight of a subscale version is envisioned for 2020, with French Guiana as the launch site.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of January 7-17, 2018 (1/7): NASA plans a briefing to update on pre-launch testing of the James Webb Space Telescope on Wednesday. Weather and space science conferences are planned this week in Austin, Texas, the Washington D.C. area, Kississimme, Florida and at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The U.S. House and Senate are in session, with a January 19 deadline looming for the current budget continuing resolution.

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