Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 9th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… A look at how U.S. private enterprise promises to help NASA hasten a return to the moon. An engine once that once promised destruction helps usher in a new era in the peaceful human exploration of deep space. New James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) review panel begins fast paced assessment of latest launch plans.

Human Space Exploration

Op-Ed | Supporting America’s plan to lead on the moon

Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic

Space News (4/4): After letting go of capabilities to land on the moon nearly a half-century ago, the U.S. in partnership with its private sector is preparing to return with small payload landers like those nurtured under NASA’s Small Lander Initiative and other technology development programs. Those should provide precursors for moon landing with heavier payloads and eventually humans, writes John Thornton, CEO of Astrobotic one of those leading the effort from the commercial sector.

This sound used to mean the end of the world

Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin and Orbital ATK

Popular Mechanics (4/4): Orbital ATK’s solid rocket motor, previously found in nuclear ICBMs, finds a second and more peaceful life. In the case of this March 29 test fire, NASA and Lockheed Martin are using a surplus Peacekeeper motor to loft a rocket carrying the Orion spacecraft in a high-flying test of the capsule’s emergency abort system. This test will verify that the 34-year-old rocket can perform as expected during that upcoming test.


Space Science

JWST independent review board gets down to work (4/6): The recently appointed 10 member panel led by former aerospace company and NASA executive Thomas Young will spend eight weeks assessing efforts underway to prepare the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for a May 2020 launch, the latest target launch date established after a series of postponements to deal with technical and cost issues facing the designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA is partnered with the European and Canadian space agencies in the development of the JWST.

Interplanetary cubesats are go!

Scientific American (3/31): Two of the small spacecraft are to liftoff with NASA’s Mars InSight mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Marco, as the small satellites are designated, will accompany the primary payload, InSight, which is to land on the Martian surface to explore the planet’s internal processes with underground probes. The small satellites will help to relay data about InSight’s entry, descent and landing. The launch window spans May 5 to June 8.  Arrival at Mars is planned for late November.

Two asteroid missions will help shape the economy of the 21st century

The Hill (4/7): Later this year, two missions, NASA’s Osiris-Rex and Japan’s Hayabusa-2, will reach a pair of asteroids, Bennu and Ryugu, where each will attempt to gather samples for return to Earth. The outcome of the two missions could help to set the stage for asteroid mining, an activity that could turn asteroid ice into a resource for the production of rocket propellants and potentially reveal much more of value.

Juno’s new gems focus on Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (4/6):  NASA’s Jupiter orbiting Juno mission offers new imagery of the giant planet’s Great Red Spot. The images were gathered during the probe’s twelfth 54 day orbit.

Could there be microbes floating in Venus’ clouds? New research paper bolsters incredible possibility

America Space (4/6): Venus has long been assumed unlikely to host habitable environments. A new study led by a University of Wisconsin researcher explains how the neighboring planet might host high flying microbes.


Other News 

Three billionaires are racing to space. Who will win?

National Geographic (4/7): A new book, The Space Barrons, penned by Washington Post writer Christian Davenport, offers a look at three wealthy men, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and their passion for space and what it may mean for the future.

Why the hurried mission to orbit the moon before the Soviets was so dangerous

Washington Post (4/6): Rocket Men offers a compelling look back at the decision to launch Apollo 8 on the first human mission beyond Earth in 1968 as well as the mission itself, according to the review. NASA’s future exploration plans include Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), a human lunar orbiting test flight of the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System (SLS), which will set the stage for the assembly of the human Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG).

‘Houston, We Have a Podcast’: The people of NASA have some good stories to tell

Washington Post (4/8):  NASA, the agency’s astronauts, engineers and scientists, are using the podcast medium to tell their behind the scenes stories of exploration, from the International Space Station to the Orion crew exploration capsule. “Houston, We have a Podcast,” is a production of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Secretive X-37B military space plane wings past 200 days in orbit

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (4/6): The U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane is now 200 days into its fifth long duration orbital mission since 2010. Some facets of the classified missions are used to test new technologies. The fifth mission was launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on September 7, 2017. The longest flight for the Boeing built reusable spacecraft is 718 days.

Excitement to watch rocket launches is growing. So is the traffic

Florida Today (4/6): As the pace of rocket launches grows on Florida’s space coast, so is the interest among onlookers and with that also the traffic. Area officials are conferring on how best to accommodate rocket tourism.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of April 8-14, 2018 (4/8): Lots of Congressional budget hearings in Washington this week on civil and military space issues. April 12 also marks Yuri’s Night, a tribute to the first human spaceflight in 1961, as the former Soviet Union launched Yuri Gagarin on a one orbit flight. The date also marks the anniversary of NASA’s first shuttle flight, the 1981 launch of the orbiter Columbia with John Young and Bob Crippen.

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