Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 30th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA, China address challenges of next steps in space. U.S. Departments of Transportation and Commerce rolling out private sector space reforms. Mars to shine bright in night sky as it nears the Earth.

Human Space Exploration

China just invited the world to its space station

Ars Technica (5/29): China on Tuesday invited the global community to consider participation in the China Space Station, which it plans to assemble in Earth orbit and have operational as soon as 2022.  “All countries, regardless of their size and level of development, can participate in the cooperation on an equal footing,” Shi Zhongjun, China’s ambassador to the U.N. and other international organizations, said thru China’s state news service while in Vienna. The invitation comes as the White House proposes to transition the 15 nation International Space Station from a government to commercial footing by 2025.  China may offer an alternative to ISS partners like the European Space Agency.

Success! Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane aces 2nd powered test flight (5/29): VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, achieved a maximum altitude of 114,500 feet and a speed of Mach 1.9 during its second ever powered test flight on Tuesday over California’s Mojave Desert. Two pilots were aboard.


Space Science

Mars makes its closest approach in 15 years this summer: How to see it (5/29): By late July, Mars, the Red Planet, will be closer to the Earth than it has been since 2003. Its reddish glare should be visible to the East/Southeast in the early evening. Favorable Mars viewing should continue into August.


Other News 

Russian state space giant Roscosmos may curb space program due to lack of funds

Sputnik International of Russia (5/30): Roscosmos, the Russian space flight corporation, may facing the U.S. equivalent of a $2.4 billion reduction in funding over the next three years, a cut that will impact future development of the Vostochny Cosmodrome launch complex as well as new launch vehicles and space gear, according to a report based on an industry source.

DOT to revamp commercial space launch licensing regime by February 2019 (5/29): The Trump Administration followed up on discussions to ease the commercial space licensing and regulatory environments last week as the President signed Space Policy Directive 2. More details emerged Tuesday as the FAA communicated that it intends to revamp licensing for commercial space launches and re-entries by February 2019. The FCC is to handle improvements in the assignment of radio spectrum frequencies for non-governmental entities. The Commerce Department intends to establish a new Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise (SPACE) Administration to handle other regulatory matters.

Bezos outlines vision of Blue Origin’s lunar future

Space News (5/29): Last week, Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos spoke of Blue’s lunar plans as he accepted the National Space Society’s Gerard K. O’Neill Memorial Award at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles. He touted the need for a permanent lunar base, perhaps one along the lines of the Moon Village proposed by European Space Agency director general Jan Woerner. The Amazon founder envisions commercial versions of lunar rockets and landers.

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