Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 2nd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA looks at possible Commercial Crew Program test flights with astronauts this year. The second in a new generation of NASA/NOAA weather satellites launched successfully on Thursday. NASA restructures oversight of its advanced space technology investments.

Human Space Flight

Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel encouraged (sort of) on commercial crew (3/1): NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Committee met Thursday at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Briefings included plans to launch uncrewed and crew test flights of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Dragon spacecraft this year, potentially restoring a U.S. human launch capability lost as the NASA shuttle program was retired in 2011. While “challenging,” the timeline is considered an encouraging development. Both spacecraft are to commercially transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station and permit increased research activities.

NASA wants to send humans to Mars in the 2030s: Here is the step-by-step timeline

Business Insider (3/1): A notional look at U.S. space mission planning that could transition human space exploration activities from low Earth orbit to the moon and eventually Mars. Planetary science as well as human missions developed by NASA and the U.S. private sector would shape the course with international partners playing key roles, just as they have with the International Space Station.

In response to Trump budget, NASA ending separate technology plan

Ars Technica (3/1): Internally, NASA is moving ahead with plans outlined in the White House 2019 budget proposal for NASA to restructure its advanced technology development efforts, investments made since 2010 to develop deep space exploration technologies, with annual spending ranging from $500 million to $1 billion, according to the report. Under the transition, the tech directorate would be folded into NASA exploration directorate, already leading work on the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule.

New U.S. postage stamp for astronaut Sally Ride gets May ‘launch’ date (3/1): The U.S. Postal Service has set May 23 as the date it will offer a new “forever” stamp honoring the late Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space. The NASA shuttle astronaut launched in 1983. She died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer. Ride, a physicist and advocate for STEM education, was 61.


Space Science

Atlas 5 rocket launches GOES-S satellite to watch Western weather and wildfires

Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (3/1): The second in a new generation of NASA/NOAA weather and climate research satellites, GOES-S, launched Wednesday at 5:01 p.m., EST, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket. The Lockheed Martin build satellite will perch in geosynchronous orbit over the Western Pacific Ocean and be renamed GOES-17 to act as a weather sentry for western North and Central America. Its Atlantic Ocean counterpart, GOES-R/16, was launched in November 2016, greatly improving Atlantic hurricane forecasting capabilities.

NASA’s ‘Marsquake’ detecting spacecraft arrives at launch site

Inverse (3/1): Mars Insight, NASA’s next Mars lander, has moved from its Lockheed Martin assembly site in Colorado to its launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for final processing. Launch is planned between May 5 and June 8, two years later than originally planned to permit the reworking of a European instrument contribution with a vacuum defect. InSight is to land late this year and probe below the surface of Mars to characterize seismic activity and other geophysical features.

NASA finds a large amount of water in an exoplanet’s atmosphere (3/1): Two of NASA’s maturing Great Observatories, the Hubble Space Telescope and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, have combined to detect massive amounts of moisture in the atmosphere of a Saturn size planet will beyond the solar system but orbiting a sun like star. Wasp-39b is 700 light years away. The findings suggest the universe has a diversity of planet types.

Japanese probe takes photo of asteroid months before arrival

Asahi Shimbun of Japan (3/2): Japan’s second asteroid retrieval mission, Hyabusa 2, has spotted its target, Ryugu, and snapped a photo. Launched in December 2014, the Japanese spacecraft should reach its destination this summer.

Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission to carry microsatellites for pioneering astronomy

GB Times of Finland (3/1): The first of two spacecraft missions that China plans to launch this year as part of its Chang’e 4 lunar mission will include a pair of microsats assigned to astrophysics demonstrations. They are to launch in May or June to establish a communications relay at the moon for a Chinese lander and rover mission slated to launch in December.

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