Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 8th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) assesses NASA’s planetary science missions. Planet-hunting Kepler telescope wakes up, phones home.

Human Space Exploration

Rocket City, Alabama: Space history and an eye on the future

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel (8/7): Huntsville, Alabama, home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, seems often overlooked in the historical annals of U.S. human space flight. But as much as Florida’s Kennedy Space Center launch site and NASA’s Mission Control and astronaut corps in Houston, Marshall and the Redstone Arsenal played a significant role in the rise of the nation’s human space exploration, including the Apollo Moon landings. A new era beckons, and Marshall is there leading development of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine: 2024 Space Station funding cut off may not be possible

Houston Chronicle (8/2): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine admitted Thursday that the proposal to end federal funding for the International Space Station after 2024 may not be feasible. “There’s still a lot to be determined,” Bridenstine told a small group of reporters at Houston’s Johnson Space Center on Thursday. “But it’s important … to start that conversation now.” The 2024 cutoff date was outlined earlier this year in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposal for the space agency. In that plan, which still must be approved by Congress, commercial entities would take over operation of the station by 2025.

NASA’s ‘Hidden Figures’ put forward for Congressional Gold Medal (8/7): NASA’s ‘Hidden Figures’, four African American women, could receive the Congressional Gold Medal for their contributions to early U.S. human space flight under a bipartisan legislative bill. All four performed as human computers to calculate flight trajectories for the early flights of the Mercury astronauts. Those cited for the honor include Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and Christine Darden.

1st of Christa McAuliffe’s lost lessons released from space

Associated Press via New York Times (8/7): NASA Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe was among the seven men and women who perished on January 28, 1986, when the shuttle Challenger broke apart during liftoff. She never had the opportunity to connect with students in classrooms on the Earth from space. Now, NASA and the Challenger Center for Space Science Education have posted a video of current International Space Station astronaut Ricky Arnold, of NASA, himself a former classroom teacher, conducting one of McAuliffe’s experiments.


Space Science

Planet-hunting Kepler telescope wakes up, phones home

Scientific American (8/5): The Kepler space telescope isn’t dead yet. Kepler, which has discovered about 70 percent of the 3,800 known exoplanets to date, woke up from a four-week hibernation on August 2 and has begun beaming data home, just as planned, NASA officials announced August 3. Kepler had been sleeping in an attempt to save thruster fuel, which is running very low. Mission team members wanted to make sure the spacecraft had enough propellant left to orient its antenna toward Earth for the data dump.

Mid-term review positive about NASA’s planetary program, but worried about Europa costs, Mars cadence (8/8): The congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences (NAS) establishes a priority list for planetary science objectives every decade. The most recent covers the period from 2013-22. The NAS also presents a midterm progress assessment. The most recent midterm issued Tuesday urged NASA to closely watch the cost of a multi-billion dollar Europa Clipper mission that would conduct multiple close flybys of Europa, the ice and ocean covered moon of Jupiter that may host habitable environments. At too high a cost, Clipper could slow the development and execution of other missions. The NAS, supportive of efforts to robotically gather and return samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth for analysis, called for new Martian orbiters cable of providing communications relay and reconnaissance support for the landers and rovers assigned to return samples collected by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.


Other News

NASA Administrator Bridenstine gets one-of-a-kind tour of KSC, Space Coast

Florida Today (8/7): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former military pilot and member of the U.S. Congress who became NASA’s 13th administrator in April, opened his work week at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. “The goal to come here was to get to know the workforce, to get to listen to their feedback,” said Bridenstine.

Government agencies welcome small rockets with contracts, awards and reduced red tape (8/7): U.S. government agencies, from NASA to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, are doing what they can with financial incentives to encourage the launch and development of small satellites for their missions.

NASA as a Brand

The Space Review (8/6): NASA brands, the meatball and the worm insignias, seem to be popular logos for informal clothing, in the U.S. and apparently abroad. It may be a symbol of what’s best about the nation and what endures, writes Dwayne Day in an op-ed that tracks the clothing trend.

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