Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 22nd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… President Trump’s forthcoming 2019 budget proposal to include NASA human lunar exploration details. China space surge unfolding. U.S. Senate to convene Monday for vote to reopen the federal government. NASA moving ahead with Tuesday spacewalk despite government shutdown.

Human Space Exploration

NASA 2019 budget expected to include lunar exploration program details

Space News (1/19): As 2017 was drawing to a close, U.S. President Trump announced NASA would be return to the lunar surface with astronauts. The space agency’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, said details included in NASA’s proposed 2019 budget will reveal more about the strategy. Annual spending plans are typically released on the first Monday in February. Lightfoot’s remarks came at the Center for Strategic and International Studies civil space forum in Washington on January 18.

China’s ambitions in space are growing

Economist (1/20): Wenchang City, the site of China’s fourth launch complex is reminiscent of Florida’s space coast, complete with tourist activities themed around space launch activities. The similarities may well move beyond, as the it becomes the launch complex for China’s powerful Long March 5, a lynch pin in China’s plans to launch a space station, a ground breaking robotic mission to the moon’s far side, perhaps future human lunar explorers.

China to select astronauts for its space station

Xinhuanet, of China (1/22): China will seek astronauts with scientific and engineering backgrounds for the Earth orbiting space station it plans to begin assembling in 2020.

NASA shutdown plans follow familiar script

Space News (1/21): NASA’s support of the International Space Station continues with much of the U.S. federal government’s workforce furloughed after Congress failed to pass a budget continuing resolution extending beyond January 19 at midnight. Two spacewalks, the first planned for Tuesday, to complete upgrades to Canada’s robot arm, are to get underway as planned. However, the work, may not be televised on NASA-TV.

NASA’s lovely tribute to the teacher who perished on Challenger

The Atlantic (1/19): In the summer of 1985, Christa McAuliffe was preparing to fly aboard the space shuttle Challenger to become the first private citizen in space. McAuliffe had been selected from more than 11,400 applicants for the government’s Teacher in Space program. While in orbit, she planned to film science lessons that would be distributed to classrooms around the country after she returned. McAuliffe was never able to carry out those plans. The 37-year-old social-studies teacher and her six crewmates were killed during liftoff at Cape Canaveral in Florida in 1986. But now, a pair of NASA astronauts are hoping to finish what McAuliffe started. Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold will carry out some of McAuliffe’s original lesson plans on the International Space Station over the next several months.

Christa McAuliffe’s lost Challenger lessons to be taught on Space Station (1/19): The lessons from space once planned by Christa McAuliffe, NASA’s teacher in space and one of seven to perish in the shuttle Challenger launch tragedy of January 28, 1986 will be revived by NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold and filmed. Both men are former school teachers. Acaba is currently aboard the International Space Station, and Arnold is in training to launch in March, shortly after Acaba’s tour of duty is over. McAuliffe, of New Hampshire, was to offer instruction to the nation’s students from Earth orbit had Challenger’s mission unfolded as planned. Acaba and Arnold will record those lessons from the Space Station.

NASA Johnson Space Center director to retire in May

Houston Chronicle (1/19): Director Ellen Ochoa was NASA’s first Hispanic astronaut. She launched four times as a space shuttle crew member before becoming Johnson’s deputy director and then director in 2012. Her family will retire in Idaho.


Space Science

No, an asteroid is not going to collide with Earth in February (1/20): NASA has offered assurances that asteroid 2002 AJ129 will pass safely by the Earth as it makes its closest approach on February 4. Approximately a half mile in diameter, 1002 AJ129 will come no closer than an estimated 2 1/2 million miles.


Other News

Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket reaches orbit and deploys satellites

Los Angeles Times (1/20): Huntington Beach, California, based Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket reached orbit for the first time late Saturday, with a launch from New Zealand. The Electron rocket was developed for small satellites. Deployments of three satellites followed. The company’s first launch, last May, did not achieve orbit.

One year later, NASA still doesn’t have a new administrator

The Atlantic (1/20): On Saturday afternoon, NASA will mark an anniversary with little cause for celebration: One year since the Trump administration took office, the space agency still doesn’t have an administrator. This is the longest NASA has gone without a permanent chief—who is nominated by the president and must be confirmed by Congress—in the transition between two administrations. Since the inauguration last January, NASA has been run by an acting administrator.

Shutdown update: Senate to vote at noon Monday on revised CR to reopen government (1/21): The U.S. Senate is to convene Monday at noon, EST, for a vote on a spending measure that would re-open the federal government, closed since Friday at midnight, through February 8.

U.S. military satellite launched to fortify against missile attacks

Coalition Member in the News: United Launch Alliance (1/20): A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket successfully placed a Pentagon missile warning satellite in orbit Friday night, following liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It marked the 146th launch of an Atlas rocket since 1993.

Under control: U.S. Air Force’s SBIRS GEO flight-4 missile warning satellite responding to commands

Coalition Member in the News: Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance

Lockheed Martin (1/19): United Launch Alliance successfully launched an infrared missile warning satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, late Friday. An Atlas 5 lifted off with the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite at 7:48 p.m., EST. Signal acquisition was confirmed soon after.

Senate bill would allow spaceport to shield companies’ records

Santa Fe New Mexican (1/19): New Mexico’s Spaceport America is seeking an exemption from the state’s open records law that would permit it to keep secret information about companies and government agencies launching spacecraft from the complex.

In space and cyber, China is closing in on the United States (1/21): Analysts cautioned a U.S. House Armed Services Committee panel that China is making significant strides in space, including domestic capabilities to develop high-end weapons, satellites and encryption technologies. Lawmakers, however, are reserving some skepticism, according to U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, of New York, who chairs the House Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee. The session occurred last week.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of January 21-26, 2018 (1/21): Much of the federal government, including NASA and NOAA, are closed because Congress and the White House were unable to come to a spending agreement beyond the latest in a series of Continuing Resolutions that expired last Friday at midnight. Even though, NASA plans to proceed with a spacewalk on Tuesday to continue upgrades to the International Space Station’s Canadian robot arm. Thursday marks NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, a tribute to the crews of Columbia, Challenger and Apollo 1.

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