Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 4th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA, United Launch Alliance (ULA) prepare the Mars Insight lander for a Saturday launch attempt. Pre-launch testing finds the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may have a fastener issue. The internet competes with space industry for workforce talent.

Human Space Exploration

Mineral found in lunar meteorite hints at hidden Moon water (5/3): Japanese researchers have identified the mineral moganite in a lunar meteorite recovered from northwest Africa. Moganite is a mineral that forms from the evaporation of water. Researchers believe it may indicate the presence of subsurface lunar water, a potential resource for human explorers.

X-ray navigation considered for possible CubeSat mission (5/3): Experts at two NASA space centers are assessing the use of X-ray navigation for future spacecraft, including NASA’s planned human tended, Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G).  Distant high energy pulsar emissions would play much the same role for deep space guidance that GPS satellites do in navigating about the Earth.


Space Science

Live coverage: InSight set for Saturday launch from California to Mars

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (5/3): The website will be offering live NASA web coverage of the planned countdown and launch of NASA’s Mars InSight mission, scheduled for Saturday during a two hour window that opens at 7:05 a.m., EDT. Coverage begins at 6:30 a.m., EDT. The early forecast showed only a 20 percent chance of favorable conditions. However, the launch window extends until June 8. InSight, which is to be launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket, is equipped to study the nature of the Martian subsurface. Landing is planned for late November.

Are we there yet?

The Atlantic (5/3): Once NASA’s Mars InSight mission launches, which is expected Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, there will be little time to celebrate. During the spacecraft’s lengthy journey to Mars, which is to end with a landing in late November, the mission team has much to do. First, they will check out how the spacecraft fared during the launch. Then, they will prepare for the drama of the landing and actual mission operations on the surface of the Red Planet.

‘Marsquakes’ are a thing, and this NASA spacecraft will go look for them

Washington Post (5/3): Once on the Martian surface, NASA’s Mars Insight lander is to carry out the first study of the Martian interior. The findings could explain why Mars, cold and dry, is so different from the Earth, lush and with vast oceans and life.

JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing

Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman

Space News (5/3): The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), already faced with cost and technical challenges, has a new concern. The observatory, slated for launch in May 2020, seems to have experienced the loss of screws and washers during its latest round of pre-launch testing. The finding was discussed during a meeting Thursday before the Space Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Findings from an independent review of the observatory’s launch status are to be announced in June.


Other News

LSINC Corporation appoints Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr. president

LSINC (5/2): In Alabama, Huntsville’s LSINC Corp has announced that Robert Lightfoot, who served as NASA’s Acting Administrator from January 2017 through April, has joined the company as president. Lightfoot retired after nearly 30 years with the space agency in a succession of engineering and management positions.

America’s space industry has a hiring problem, and it must battle the Silicon Valley to solve it

Space News (5/3): A look at why the U.S. space and satellite industry faces competition to find youthful workforce talent. Previous sources of workers, broadcast and defense, are changing in response to cost pressures. Tech talent from the space industry is being lured instead to web giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Europe’s space workforce: Same age, less crisis

Space News (5/3): Europe’s aerospace workforce reflects a more stable environment. Workers tend to join after experience in other technical fields and remain for 10 to 15 years.

Long March 3B launches APStar-6C (5/3): China launched a multi-band communications satellite atop a Long March 3B rocket on Thursday.

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