Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 18th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Moving humans deeper in to space means assessing risk in a new light. Legislation guiding NASA’s future and supporting plans for future human deep space exploration moves forward in the U.S. House. NASA plans a second attempt to launch the TESS planet searching mission Wednesday evening.

Human Space Exploration

Acting NASA administrator’s parting words: Accept risk wisely, with `eyes wide open’ (4/17): Returning to the moon with human explorers and preparing for missions to Mars with astronauts will require changes in the ways the nation assesses the risks of spaceflight, Robert Lightfoot, NASA acting administrator, told a Space Symposium audience in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. Lightfoot is retiring at the end of the month, after 29 years with NASA and serving as top executive since January 2017. “We must move from risk management to risk leadership,” Lightfoot said. “From a risk management perspective, the safest place to be is on the ground. From a risk leadership perspective, I believe that’s the worst place this nation can be.”

NASA authorization bill clears committee with bipartisan support after last minute negotiations (4/17): The House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved an authorization measure Tuesday that supports more than $21 billion annually for NASA in 2018-19. The 26-7 vote moving the measure to the full House won bipartisan backing with an amendment calling for the restoration of $471 million in Earth science funding for 2019. The measure’s primary thrust supports President Trump’s call to return U.S. human explorers to the moon and transition low Earth orbit activities to the private sector in partnership with international partners.

Exploration Ground Systems, Jacobs practice building SLS boosters in the VAB

Coalition Member in the News – Jacobs (4/17): Teamed within the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, workers are marching through the procedures for stacking the twin solid rocket boosters that will join the core stage of Space Launch System (SLS) rockets that NASA intends for the launch of future human missions to the moon and Mars.

Astronaut says it ‘smells great’ inside the International Space Station (video) (4/17): NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren was pleasantly surprised when in 2015 he floated aboard the International Space Station. The atmosphere was pleasant, not drenched in the smell of a locker room. He credits the life support systems aboard the Station that are regularly updated to recycle air and water, just as they must aboard the spacecraft that are to take human explorers to the lunar environs and deeper into space.


Space Science

The next era in exoplanet searches

The Space Review (4/16): NASA plans a second attempt to launch the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission on today at 6:51 p.m., EDT, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Launch of the multiyear mission to expand the search for planets beyond the solar system was called off Monday to re-assess guidance, navigation and control with the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Researchers propose mission to intercept the next interstellar asteroid (4/17): Last year, astronomers were startled with the discovery of Oumuamua, a large asteroid like object whose origins were traced to beyond the solar system. Inspired by the find, scientists have proposed an intercept mission with a future similar discovery that includes an impact to scatter debris that can be assessed for chemical and mineral signatures to determine the object’s possible origins.

Diamond-studded meteorites came from the collision of a lost planet

Science Magazine (4/17): Studies of meteorite fragments that fell into Sudan in 2008 suggest some of the materials that merged into the planets 4.5 billion years ago were made of diamonds.


Other News

Regaining U.S. and allied strategic advantage: Dr. Griffin weighs in

Second Line of (4/16): Space policy veteran Mike Griffin, recently confirmed as the under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, outlines a strategy to help the U.S. regain a strategic advantage in a contested space environment, an outlook that includes private sector innovation and possible alliances with global partners.

Ross: Space is getting crowded and Earth debris needs serious attention

Florida Today (4/17): Appearing at the 34th annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said his organization is prepared to shoulder responsibilities for space traffic management, including preventing collisions with growing numbers of manmade space debris that could pose a threat to future commercial low Earth orbit activities.

SpaceX to build Mars rocket at the Port of Los Angeles (4/16): SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has identified the Port of Los Angeles as the site for the production of the company’s future heavy lift rocket, the Big Falcon Rocket.  Musk, an Internet entrepreneur, has touted the launch vehicle as capable of transporting humans to Mars.

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