In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Human to Mars Summit finds synergies in human Moon/Mars exploration. NASA adds a drone to its Mars 2020 rover.
Human Space Exploration
Coalition Member in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne
Axios (5/10): Making strategic investments in a human return to the Moon shows promise for reaching Mars, say experts who participated in the Human to Mars summit hosted by Explore Mars, Inc., in Washington last week. A challenge, however, could be avoiding an over investment in lunar capabilities that could draw financial resources away from the goal of reaching Mars. “The big challenge is going to be not getting diverted into things that are solely useful for resource development on the moon,” said Joe Cassady, of Aerojet Rocketdyne. “I really don’t see it as an either or. I think we can make this work.”
Spaceflight Insider (5/10): Recent discussions regarding Space Launch Systems’ (SLS) Block 1 design making more than a single flight have been ongoing at NASA. According to the agency: “NASA’s early analyses of launch windows for Europa Clipper in 2022, 2023, 2024, or 2025 indicate that direct trajectories are feasible for SLS Block 1. Further analyses are expected to confirm these early findings with the possibility of some minor configuration modifications. June 2022 is the earliest launch window.
Making stuff in space: Off-Earth manufacturing is just getting started
Coalition Member in the News – Made In Space
Space.com (5/11): Made In Space, Inc., of Silicon Valley, is among those pioneering a new field in space, the production of components and equipment in microgravity environments using additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing. The pursuit could allow astronauts to manufacture replacement parts and equipment in space rather than wait for it to launch on a re-supply mission. Also, products like Made in Space’s fiber optic material, ZBLAN, appears superior to similar products made on Earth, perhaps opening opportunities to manufacture goods for terrestrial markets in Earth orbit.
GeekWire (5/11): NASA’s next Mars rover, Mars 2020, will carry a small helicopter like drone that will attempt to demonstrate battery powered, independent operations. The rover is to collect and cache samples of the Martian soil for eventual return to Earth. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the drone will build on a “proud history of firsts” for the space agency. The Mars Helicopter is to be tested over a 30-day trial after the rover reaches the red planet.
Space News (5/12): In response to difficulties with two costly NASA astrophysics initiatives, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope, the agency is considering an effort to delay the next National Academy of Sciences assessment of the most important new astrophysics mission priorities. A number of astronomers oppose a delay.
Space.com (5/12): Changes in planetary atmospheres that can be attributed to seasonal biological processes might help to assess the habitability of planets beyond the solar system. During the summer in regions of the Earth, for instance, plant growth leads to less carbon dioxide and more oxygen in the atmosphere, notes a research effort from the University of California, Riverside, and published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. Those signs, when paired with the presence of oxygen and methane, which could be attributed to sources other than life, may help establish a stronger case for habitability. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and other powerful space observatories will be equipped to help make such distinctions.
United Launch Alliance picks Aerojet Rocketdyne engine
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, United Launch Alliance (ULA)
Denver Business Journal (5/11): Aerojet Rocketdyne’s liquid hydrogen and oxygen fueled RL-10 will be the propulsion source for the second stage of ULA’s new Vulcan rocket, the company announced Friday, following a competitive selection process.
Xinhuanet, of China (5/13): The last three years have brought a surge in the rise of Chinese commercial space companies, most in or around Beijing and locales with a strong manufacturing presence. The change may lower costs and encourage technology development, according to FutureSpace, an investment institution.
CNNTech (5/11): The latest version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9, the block 5, debuted Friday with a liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) with the Bangabandhu Satellite-1, a communications satellite.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Coalition Member in the News – Orbital ATK
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/13): There could be much in Washington this week coming from Congress and Advisory panels on NASA and its plans for the International Space Station (ISS), as the U.S. prepares to transition its human exploration focus from low Earth orbit to Deep Space. Key events on the ISS are slated for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold are to spacewalk outside the ISS on Wednesday to reposition a spare external cooling assembly. A NASA Earth science mission, GRACE FO, is set for launch on Thursday from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and NASA’s next Orbital ATK cargo mission to the space station is set for launch next Sunday from Wallops Island, VA.
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