Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 16th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The White House and NASA are starting with small but quick steps toward returning human deep space exploration to the moon’s surface and beyond.  China wraps up a long ground simulation of a human moon mission. A NASA Mars Insight mission CubeSat companion looks back at Earth, sends an image.


Human Space Exploration

Back to the Moon, again: Will the third time be the charm?

Air and Space Museum Magazine (5/14): Washington hosted two space policy meetings last week, the annual Human to Mars Summit and a NASA sponsored lunar “industry day” for an explanation of the agency’s strategy for collaborating with the private sector and global partners to transition human exploration activities from low Earth orbit to the Moon, then Mars. They are part of a third post Apollo effort to return astronauts to the moon. Efforts initiated by the past presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush intended as much in 1989 and 2004 but stalled. This time, the Trump Administration and NASA are starting small and quickly in order to light a fire.

Advisory committee asks NASA to develop plans for reduced ISS crew

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Space News (5/15):  Concerned that efforts underway by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to certify Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s crewed Dragon for the transport of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) could slip and thus reduce the station’s crew size, NASA’s ISS Advisory panel is urging the agency to train Russian cosmonauts assigned to Soyuz space station launches in September 2019 and March 2020 on how to operate key U.S. segment systems of the station. The station’s U.S. segment now houses four astronauts; the Russian segment, two cosmonauts.

Chinese rewrite record, live 370 days in self-contained moon lab

Xinhuanet, of China (5/15):  On Tuesday, four student volunteers from Beijing, China’s Beihang University closed out a 370 day test of a simulated space habitat in which oxygen, food and water were recycled. In all, eight participated in the lengthy simulation. Their physical and mental health is being assessed as well. The enclosure, Lunar Palace 1, was intended to simulate a closed environment like one required for human space exploration.


Space Science

A pale blue dot, as seen by a CubeSat

NASA/JPL (5/15): NASA’s Mars InSight lander mission lifted off May 5 for a late November red planet landing and a mission to study the neighboring planet’s subsurface. Two CubeSats were launched as well to assess their hardiness in deep space. Both set a new distance record from Earth for small satellites three days after launch. A photo from one of the CubeSats snapped May 9 shows the Earth and Moon in an image reminiscent of the “pale blue dot” photo snapped by NASA’s Voyager 1 in 1990, while several billion miles from the Earth.

A pioneering NASA satellite just fell to Earth after two decades in space (5/15): NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer was launched in late 1995 to study black holes and neutron stars. Decommissioned a half dozen years ago, RXTE re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and burned up on April 30.


Other News

U.K. may pull out of Galileo project With EU playing `hardball’

Bloomberg News (5/14): A dispute between the U.K. and the European Union over the role of British companies in the future of the Galileo global satellite navigation system could lead to Britain’s exclusion from encrypted versions of the data.

Space mining could become a real thing and it could be worth trillions

CNBC (5/15): Space mining and the possibility of financial returns, perhaps many billions of dollars, has opened a new channel of support for space exploration. Technologies to recover potential resources, perhaps residing in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, are emerging. Meanwhile, a debate is underway on policies for governing their ownership and extraction.

Tom Wolfe dies at 88 

CNN (5/15): Tom Wolfe, the famed author whose many works included The Right Stuff, a story of NASA’s Mercury program astronauts and later a feature film, died Monday. Wolf, who was 88, had been hospitalized.

2001: A Space Odyssey gets a special salute at Cannes

Toronto Star, of Canada (5/14): Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 production 2001: A Space Odyssey became of science fiction film classic following its 1968 release. Last Sunday, a Cannes Film Festival tribute Sunday hailed 2001 as an “incredible masterpiece.” A new 70 mm celluloid print of the film is now in release.

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