In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Small Lander Initiative intends to increase capabilities of private sector to land increasingly larger payloads on the lunar surface. NASA briefs advisory council on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) progress. Boeing, SpaceX advance NASA’s commercial crew initiative with parachute tests. European space debris removal demonstration reaches the International Space Station.
Human Space Exploration
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic
Space News (4/4): Current plans taking shape at NASA to return human explorers to the moon can take advantage of private sector as well as government initiatives to achieve success. The Small Lander Initiative, for instance, will turn to the commercial sector to develop and land increasingly larger and more capable spacecraft on the lunar surface, writes Astrobotic’s chief executive John Thornton.
NASAspaceflight.com (4/3): NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first joint test flight to the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule is being paced by work on the SLS core stage and the European Space Agency’s service module contribution, according to details provided by the agency to a NASA Advisory Council panel on Mar. 26. The mission that will send an uncrewed Orion capsule around the moon and back to Earth for an ocean recovery is currently expected to launch in 2020.
Universe Today (4/4): Crew safety is a major part of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule development. In that regard, experts are carrying out careful simulations of the launch abort system to ensure that in a liftoff emergency it could propel Orion and its astronaut crew clear of a blast and to a parachute descent to Earth for recovery.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Spaceflightinsider.com (4/5): Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon were the focus of recent parachute tests as the two companies continue preparations for test launches and regular transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Both companies are “making great strides” in the crucial parachute testing, according to Kathy Leuders, the program manager.
Sputnik News of Russia (4/4): Mounting man-made debris in low Earth orbit looms as a challenge to future commercial activities. A European satellite experiment that reached the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX commercial resupply mission early Wednesday may help. The European Commission sponsored Remove Debris experiment is to be launched from the station soon with a harpoon and net technology that will attempt to capture and lock onto a target that will sink into the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.
New Scientist (4/4): Observations from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory point to the presence of a swarm of black holes at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, findings that help to explain a process by which star systems evolve. The discovery of a dozen small black holes may indicate the presence of thousands more, all companions to a long known super massive black hole, Sagittarius A, suggest findings from a study led by a Columbia University researcher and published in the journal Nature.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Collectspace.com (4/4): The mission operations team for NASA Commercial Crew Program partner Boeing has unveiled a mission patch for the inaugural flight of the company’s CST-100 Starliner. Two test flights await the four seat spacecraft before it can begin regularly transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The first test launch of the Starliner is planned for later this year.
New Orleans Times Picayune (4/4): California’s Relativity Space has reached an agreement for use of facilities at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for rocket engine testing. Stennis is open to additional agreements with commercial users which are seen as cost savers for the companies and an economic boost for the region.
Space News (4/4): U.S. based startup Rocket Lab is looking to an inaugural commercial launch of its Electron rocket for small satellite missions later this month from the company’s New Zealand launch site. A pair of test launches produced a mixed result. The payload will be two small Spire Earth observing satellites.
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