In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Astronauts aboard the International Space Station grapple a newly arrived commercial re-supply capsule filled with 5,800 pounds of supplies, science experiments and technology demonstrations. New Space Launch System (SLS) hardware reaches NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where assembly of the SLS Mobile launcher also continues. Bumblebee like robots could extend exploration efforts on Mars.
Human Space Exploration
Space.com (4/4): International Space Station astronauts Norishge Kanai and Scott Tingle used the Station’s Canadian robot arm to capture the latest NASA contracted commercial resupply mission capsule as it approached the orbital lab today at 6:40 a.m., EDT. The SpaceX Dragon capsule, loaded with 5,800 pounds of supplies and research and technology gear, was launched on Monday. The freighter will remained berthed for about a month before returning to Earth.
WAAY-TV of Huntsville (4/3): NASA’s Super Guppy transport aircraft flew an important piece of the first Space Launch System (SLS) rocket from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. The Orion stage adapter links the crew capsule to the launch vehicle while also serving as a launch platform for CubeSats. An uncrewed joint test flight of the SLS and Orion is planned as soon as December 2019.
Spaceflightinsider.com (4/3): The Mobile Launcher that serves as a crucial part of the launch hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) at the Kennedy Space Center achieved a recent development milestone when it was equipped with a high altitude swing arm for the large rocket’s interim cryogenic propulsion stage. The swing arm will furnish propellant, environmental control systems, pneumatics, and electrical connections to the rocket stage for a mission that is to propel an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the moon during an inaugural test flight.
CNET (4/2): At the University of Alabama, engineers are investigating the possibility of unleashing swarms of bumble bee-like robots to hasten the exploration of Mars. The Mars bees would be based on a Mars rover. Japanese engineers may partner. The proposal is one of 16 Phase 1 proposals accepted by the NASA Advanced Innovative Concepts program for development and eligible for $125,000 over nine months to develop further.
Space.com (4/3): NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is continuing efforts to develop WFIRST, or the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope, despite a call from the White House to cancel the project as part of its 2019 NASA budget proposal. An independent review found WFIRST well over a $3.2 billion spending cap and facing technical challenges. NASA, however, is continuing to pursue WFIRST after taking cost cutting measures, according to a presentation before the National Academies’ Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics last week. WFIRST, planned for a launch in the mid-2020s, is a companion to the James Webb Space Telescope and would study dark energy.
Space.com (4/3): Most Milky Way stars are red dwarfs, smaller and cooler than the sun. However, they are also a source of intense radiation, so much so that planets deemed to be in their habitable zones may not be candidates for life. Or biological activity on those planets may be limited to oceans waters, according to European astronomers.
Geek Wire (4/3): Deep Space Industries, based in California’s Silicon Valley, has been contracted to provide a water spraying thruster system for small Earth observation satellites developed by Black Sky, of Seattle. Twenty of the satellites that will use super-heated water vapor for attitude control are slated to begin launching later this year.
Space News (4/3): On March 30, a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched 10 Iridium communications satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. To observers it seemed the company abruptly ended the broadcast of live imagery from launch vehicle second stage cameras. NOAA has provided an explanation — the remote sensing systems had not been properly licensed by the federal regulators.
Spaceflightnow.com (4/3): China has launched a trio of civilian Earth observation satellites. Launched last Saturday, the trio were developed to monitor natural resources and natural disasters. The Long March 4C rocket launch marked China’s 10th of this year.
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