In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s human tended lunar Gateway promises to be more than a space station. NASA’s soon to conclude Dawn mission finds the dwarf planet Ceres, another outer solar system body rich in water ice and a possibly habitable environment. Investors lured to small sats.
Human Space Exploration
Space.com (9/10): Not as roomy as the International Space Station (ISS), the human tended, lunar Gateway NASA plans to assemble in orbit around the Moon in the next decade could take human explorers further from the Earth than ever before and open the lunar surface to activities pondered but not pursued after the Apollo era missions.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Euro News (9/10): NASA’s final space shuttle mission, launched in July 2011, was bittersweet for its commander, former Naval aviator Chris Ferguson. Inspired to fly in space by the book and film The Right Stuff, Ferguson would go on to join Boeing, a partner in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, an effort by the space agency to transition its low Earth orbit human space activities to the U.S. commercial sector. Ferguson explains the challenges and benefits of moving from the shuttle with its many crew intensive operational requirements to the automation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and what they mean to the future of human space exploration.
After 11 years, NASA’s asteroid-hoping spacecraft is running out of fuel
Popular Science (9/10): Launched 11 years ago, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft would go on to become the first spacecraft to orbit two planetary bodies, the large asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, both in the main asteroid belt. The long mission is about to conclude with Dawn running low on fuel and now in orbit around Ceres, which is rich in water ice with a presence of organics, a building block for life. Dawn will continue to orbit Ceres at a sustainable altitude for decades, offering an opportunity to return with a lander mission without accidentally contaminating the dwarf planet with debris from Dawn and possibly defeating efforts to look for signs of indigenous biological activity. Dawn’s fuel should be exhausted between mid-September and mid-October.
Space.com (9/10): The long running NASA/European Space Agency Cassini mission to Saturn drew to a close last September as the spacecraft made a destructive plunge into the atmosphere of its host planet. The activities surrounding the conclusion of the mission, which launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004, has earned NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) an Emmy for interactive programming.
Spaceweather.com (9/10): Aurora are possible Tuesday from New York to Washington in response to a fast moving stream of solar wind headed for the Earth’s magnetic field.
The Hill (9/8): An op-ed offers a tribute to the late Paul Spudis, a planetary scientist and strong advocate for lunar human exploration. Spudis died recently from complications linked to lung cancer. Spudis was especially active in efforts to identify water ice resources on the Moon.
The Space Review (9/10): The legacy of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) reaches back six decades to Russia’s Sputnik launch. Today, DARPA still strives to ease the access and lower the cost of flying in space. Often in the past, DARPA’s attempts at setbacks have encountered setbacks.
SpaceNews.com (9/10): Gathered in Paris this week for Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week, a panel of investment bankers believe they are witnessing a fundamental satellite industry shift to small satellites for communications and Earth observations.
Universe Today (9/7): Japan’s PD Aerospace, a startup, is joining largely U.S. competitors in the effort to introduce human suborbital passenger travel, with runway operations and a space plane that uses both air breathing and solid fuel propulsion to reach high altitude.
Washington Post (9/10): Recently, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced NASA was exploring the implications of allowing commercial sponsorships of its activities and those of the astronauts. But some are cautioning that move could pull valuable resources away from commercial space endeavors and possibly undercut public funding for the space agency.
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