Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 9th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… President Trump wrapped up a Cabinet meeting Thursday with a tribute to U.S. rocket makers. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot testifies before House Space Subcommittee about NASA’s proposed 2019 budget. China reveals broad plans for a new human spacecraft, whose destinations include deep space as well as a new space station. Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, anticipates new commercial space activity. Denver area awaits FAA decision on commercial spaceport license.

Vice President Pence made several statements yesterday about NASA’s return to the moon with commercial partners, including a call out to the Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle and the thousands of jobs supported by the space industry. “The U.S. is keeping highly skilled jobs and advancing us in the #NextFrontier”. Links here: Tweet 1, Tweet 2, Tweet 3

Human Space Exploration

Trump praises commercial space at Cabinet meeting

Space News (3/9): Near the end of a 20-minute session with the media during a Cabinet meeting, Trump discussed commercial spaceflight, prompted by the presence of models of several launch vehicles, including United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 and SpaceX’s Falcon 9, on the table. The status of the National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, was one of the topics of the Cabinet meeting.

House Committee still wants Mars in 2033, worried about space technology at NASA (3/8): During a U.S. House Space Subcommittee hearing this week on NASA’s proposed 2019 budget, several lawmakers pressed for human missions to Mars without the return to the Moon, favored by the Trump Administration and outlined in the latest agency spending plan. Some also questioned the wisdom of plans to merge NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which was established during the Obama Administration, with the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Giant NASA barge brings SLS test parts to Marshall

WAAY-TV, of Huntsville, Alabama (3/8): An intertank structure from the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System reached the Marshall Space Flight Center by barge early Thursday. The barge, Pegasus, began its journey from production facilities at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Upcoming tests will evaluate the structure during simulated ignition and separation phases of flight. The large rocket is to start U.S. astronauts on future missions of deep space exploration.

China is developing a new crewed spacecraft for Moon and deep space missions

GB Times, of Finland (3/9): Details emerge of a new Chinese human spacecraft that could be flown in multiple versions for missions to China’s future space station, the lunar surface, as well as near Earth asteroids and Mars with four to six astronauts. China’s current Shenzhou capsule can launch three astronauts. The next test flight for the new spacecraft has been targeted for June 2019 with a Long March 5B rocket, according to the report.


Space Science

NASA captures surreal image of where day meets night on Jupiter

Houston Chronicle (3/7): NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which maneuvered into orbit around the solar system’s largest planet on July 4, 2016, has snapped an image of the atmosphere, where sun rise and sun set are meeting. Currently, the long-running Juno mission to study Jupiter’s atmosphere and inner workings is set to end this year.

Rosetta’s 67P is the result of a collision of two comets

Universe Today (3/8): The European Space Agency’s 2014-16 up-close visit to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission spacecraft continues to pay scientific dividends. A new study assesses the theory that comets like 67P are the product of two comets that merged long ago.


Other News

Commercial space firms looking at Vandenberg AFB, Colonel says

Noozhawk, of Santa Barbara, California (3/7): During an annual State of Vandenberg presentation to community leaders this week, officials from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, said the West Coast launch site has captured the attention of commercial launch services providers.

180-day countdown to potential license for Spaceport Colorado now ticking

Denver Post (3/8): Local officials expect the FAA to complete a Denver-area commercial spaceport license request evaluation by late August. If granted, the Front Range Airport could service runway based suborbital passenger flights, as well as commercial space research and development activities.

Blue Origin’s job listings hint that it could soon be signing up astronauts

GeekWire (3/8): Help wanted postings suggest that Blue Origin may be close to flying passengers aboard the company’s New Shepard suborbital rocket. The listings seek a training manager as well as an astronaut experience manager.

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