Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 19th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The U.S. private sector is striving to help shape future lunar exploration as well as low Earth orbit operations. NASA readies a first ever mission to the sun for an early August liftoff. Blue Origin’s New Shepard achieves another milestone in its bid to begin suborbital passenger flight.


Human Space Exploration

NASA plots a return to the Moon within a decade but this time astronauts will stay there

Coalition Members in the News – Astrobotic, Boeing and Northrop Grumman

USA/Florida Today (7/18): Several companies are growing confident the U.S. will return to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo era, this time to stay. The biggest game changer is the introduction of private sector investors to push an agency dominated by exploration and science, explains Bob Richards, Moon Express CEO.  Moon Express is among companies including Astrobotic and Masten Systems developing payload-class landers for the moon.

Astronauts, your ride’s here!

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Air and Space Smithsonian (August/2018): The U.S. expects soon to regain capabilities to launch its own astronauts, however, this time using a new model. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon 2, were developed in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, but will transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station commercially. Each capsule is scaled to carry as many as seven astronauts and spend months parked at the Space Station as part of the cost saving strategy. The NASA owned space shuttle fleet was retired seven years ago this month. NASA has relied on Russia to launch its astronauts ever since.


Space Science

Death-defying NASA mission will make humanity’s closest approach to the sun

Nature (7/18): At $1.5 billion, NASA’s Solar Parker Solar probe has all the thermal protection it needs to swoop closer to the surface of the sun than any other spacecraft. The probe, developed to get a close look at the sun’s corona and genesis of the solar wind, is to gather data that should help with solar weather monitoring near the Earth and more about the solar radiation environment far into the solar system. The launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, is set for August 6, with a seven year mission and two dozen close in orbits of the sun to follow.

How ‘electric microbes’ could generate power (and more) for space missions (video) (7/18): A new experiment underway aboard the International Space Station is intended to demonstrate whether a strain of the bacteria Shewanella, might produce an electrical current flow in the absence of gravity, just as it does on the Earth through wire like appendages. The same microbe may also serve as a water purification asset on human deep space missions.

Observations of the early universe reaffirm the existence of dark matter and dark energy (7/18): The final data set from the European Space Agency’s Planck cosmic microwave background observatory, affirms a standard cosmology model, a universe about 13.8 billion years old and shaped by still mysterious forces known as dark matter and dark energy. Planck was launched in May 2009.


Other News

Astrobotic selects Dynetics for lunar lander propulsion system

Coalition Members in the News – Astrobotic and Dynetics (7/18): As Astrobotic prepares to compete for NASA lunar payload delivery contracts, the company has signed an agreement with Dynetics for the last major component of its lunar lander. Under the teaming agreement announced July 17, Dynetics will provide a main propulsion system for Astrobotic’s Peregrine lunar lander, as well as attitude control thrusters.

Blue Origin successfully tests escape system in latest New Shepard launch

Space News (7/18): Blue Origin conducted a successful test launch and recovery of its New Shepard suborbital launch vehicle from West Texas on Wednesday, a flight that featured a successful high altitude separation of the six person crew capsule and subsequent test firing of the escape engine. The flight included commercial payloads as well.

Mark Cuban-backed Relativity Space aims to build 3-D printed rockets (7/17): Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, it turns out, was an early investor in 3-D, or additive manufacturing, technologies for the manufacturing of rocket bodies. An investment solicitation from a pair of imaginative but very young engineers would lead to a healthy $500,000 investment in Relativity Space.

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