Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 2nd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA contracted cargo mission capsule reaches the International Space Station. The world marked Asteroid Day on Saturday to reflect on a global need to develop impact warnings and defenses. NASA contracts with Cal Tech for continued management of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. China announces plans for new rocket development.

Human Space Exploration

Dragon capture confirmed over Canada

NASA (7/2): Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, early Friday, the latest NASA contracted SpaceX Dragon resupply mission to the six person International Space Station reached its destination early Monday. ISS astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel, both of NASA, used the Station’s Canadian robot arm to grapple the Dragon cargo capsule at 6:54 a.m., EDT, to start the preparations of berthing it and a 5,900 pound cargo of crew supplies and science experiments.


Space Science

Northrop Grumman says it has made corrective actions to keep NASA’s James Webb telescope on track

Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman

Houston Chronicle (6/29): Northrop Grumman, NASA’s prime contractor for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), says it has joined with the space agency to overcome technical challenges that remain prior to the space observatory’s launch, re-planned for March 2021.

Asteroid Day 2018: Raising awareness of the risk of space rocks (6/29): Saturday was Asteroid Day, an international recognition of the threat to Earth posed by Near Earth Objects large enough to cause global or regional devastation if they impact. A 19 meter wide asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia in February 2013, causing hundreds of injuries from flying glass and falling structures. NASA is part of a U.S. effort to identify and track future threats.

New telescope will scan the skies for asteroids on collision course with Earth

The Conversation (6/28): Large numbers of asteroids that could impact the Earth remain undiscovered. An international effort to address the need to improve detection and tracking is underway with the construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile, writes astronomer Michael Lund.

Russian nuclear energy agency in search for asteroid protection technologies

TASS of Russia (7/1): Russia intends to use some of its nuclear savvy to join with other nations in developing a defense against an asteroid impact threats, according to a researcher with Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom,

NASA reveals stunning new photos of dwarf planet Ceres

Forbes (7/1): NASA’s Dawn mission spacecraft has been in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres since March 2015. Imagery has been gathered from high to low altitudes, with the low now at just 22 miles over the surface. Discoveries include evidence of cyrovolcanism fed by subsurface frozen water, large craters and most recently a range of organic elements, the chemical building blocks of life.


Other News

Mars is closest to Earth since 2003 this month (there’s a long blood Moon eclipse, too)! (7/1): Nearing the end of July, Mars will be as bright in the night sky as it’s been since 2003 and as close as it’s been in 60,000 years. Look for a reddish object during the mid to late evening in the southeastern sky. Late July also features a lunar eclipse, which won’t be visible in North America.

NASA awards contract for continued operations of its Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA (6/29): NASA on Friday announced the extension of its contract agreement with Cal Tech for continued management of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center. The maximum value is $30 billion over a five year base period, with options for five one year extensions. JPL leads many of NASA’s Earth and planetary sciences, heliophysics, astrophysics missions, while also leading the development of spacecraft and instruments. It also manages NASA Deep Space Network for communications with the most distant spacecraft.

China to develop new series of carrier rockets: expert

Xinhuanet of China (7/2): China intends to develop new low, medium and heavy lift launch vehicles by 2030, according to Long Lehao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a chief designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. New performance targets would max out at 140 metric tons to low-Earth orbit, 44 tons to Earth-Mars transfer orbit, 50 tons to Earth-Moon transfer orbit and 66 tons tor geosynchronous transfer orbit in 2030. The most capable of the new rockets, the Long March 9 with the 140 metric ton capability, could be used in manned lunar landings, deep space exploration and constructing a space-based solar power plant.

Privately developed Japanese rocket fails shortly after liftoff

Kyodo News (6/30): Efforts by an Interstellar Technologies to become Japan’s first commercial rocket company failed Saturday as the Momo-2 rocket crashed to the ground seconds after liftoff. Interstellar seeks to become a competitor in the small satellite launch sector.

Prototype rocket engine tested at Cecil Spaceport

Jacksonville Business Journal of Florida (6/29): Generation Orbit Launch Services Inc., of Atlanta, has tested a liquid rocket prototype for the launching of small satellites from the Jacksonville, Florida’s Cecil Spaceport. The GOLauncher1 is a hypersonic booster for the launch of small satellites and dropped from an aircraft in flight before ignition.

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