Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 14th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. and Russian space agency heads Jim Bridenstine and Dmitry Rogozin agree to meet October 10, as a Russian led investigation into a small leak in the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) continues. Jody Singer named Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center. SpaceX announces another mission around the Moon with a paying customer, this time with the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR). A similar mission announced for 2018 never materialized. NASA’s ice-monitoring mission prepares for launch aboard the last Delta II rocket. As Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s commercial space ambitions soar so does the company’s stock value.

Human Space Exploration

Bridenstine, Rogozin discuss Soyuz MS-09 hole, will meet in person next month (9/13): Jim Bridenstine and Dimitry Rogozin, the heads of NASA and Roscosmos, have agreed to meet October 10 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a day before the scheduled launch from there of the Soyuz MS-10 crew transport with U.S. and Russian astronauts bound for the International Space Station (ISS). Their talk by phone on Wednesday was focused on a Russian led investigation into the hole detected and repaired August 29-30 in the Russian segment of the Space Station. The damage was traced to the Soyuz MS-09 capsule, one of two crew transports docked to the Space Station and the one designated to take three U.S., Russian and European astronauts back to Earth on December 13. In a joint statement, Bridenstine and Rogozin denounced speculation over the cause of the damage and urged patience in waiting for the outcome of the investigation.

Jody Singer named Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center 

NASA (9/13): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday named Jody Singer as Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Singer has been the acting director since July, when she was named to fill in for her predecessor, Todd May, on an acting basis. Prior to that she served as Marshall’s deputy director. Her tenure at Marshall spans more than three decades, with increasing responsibility for the development and operation of rocket propulsion systems. Marshall leads NASA’s development of the Space Launch System (SLS).

SpaceX says its BFR will fly someone around the Moon. We have questions

Ars Technica (9/13): Using social media, SpaceX founder Elon Musk is promising to announce on Monday the name of a paying client passenger for a Big Falcon Rocket (BFR)/Big Falcon Spaceship trip around the Moon. The date for such a venture, perhaps involving a Japanese client, is unclear, however.

Meet the astronaut ‘den mother’ who takes care of NASA’s 2017 astronaut candidate class (9/13): Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen has signed up for the role of “den mother” to NASA’s 2017 class of astronauts at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. He’s also acting as a liaison for Dr. David Saint-Jacques, the Canadian astronaut who is preparing to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) in December.


Space Science

NASA’s ice-monitoring space laser ready for Saturday launch

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (9/13): A laser-firing, ice-monitoring NASA spacecraft has been cleared for liftoff.

The space agency’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2), which will measure ice sheets and sea ice around the world in unprecedented detail, passed a key launch readiness review this morning, mission team members announced. IceSat-2 remains on track to launch to Earth orbit September 15 atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The roughly 2.5-hour launch window opens at 8:46 a.m. EDT.

Goodbye, Delta II rocket

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance

Planetary Society (9/11): The nonprofit offers another tribute to the staying power and engineering artistry of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket. Through the years, the workhorse Delta II’s payloads ranged from missions to Mars and an asteroid named Ceres to military Global Positioning System satellites.

Strange binary asteroid shows solar system upheaval happened early (9/12): Designated “Trojans” because they trail the giant planet Jupiter around the sun, the asteroid pair, Patroclus and Menoetius, are helping scientists date when the solar system adopted its current architecture.


Other News

Central Coast centenarian remembers early role in NASA Delta rocket program

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance

KEYT-TV of California (9/13): The launch early Saturday of NASA’s ICE-Sat-2 mission satellite is to mark the final flight of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta 2 rocket, which lifted off in 1989 on the first of its 154 missions so far. Edward Monteath, of Paso Robles, California, and now 100 years old, recalls working on the Delta II’s development as an employee of Rocketdyne.

Amazon’s rising stock gives Jeff Bezos ‘financial muscle’ in outer space equal to whole countries

CNBC (9/13): Morgan Stanley financial analysts see a potential for great things from Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, a rival to SpaceX, and the company’s potential to finance advances in commercial space activities, through rocket and rocket engine development. “We believe investors may want to pay far more attention to another emerging force for the advancement of efforts in space that has both the will and, increasingly, the financial muscle to put to work. That force is Jeff Bezos,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note Thursday. “Investors may want to take notice.”

Luxembourg establishes space agency and new fund (9/13): Luxembourg on Thursday formally announced the creation of a national space agency. The small Luxembourg Space Agency will be primarily focused on establishing a national space industry, education and building up a domestic workforce. The announcement came before national elections scheduled for October 4.

Former Stratolaunch executive to lead smallsat industry group (9/13): Steve Nixon, former vice president of Stratolaunch and previously a Congressional staffer and director of science and technology at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will head the day to day operations for a new commercial industry group, the SmallSat Alliance. The alliance will represent a membership of 40 companies in the nation’s capital.

National Air and Space Museum to mark Apollo 11 50th anniversary (9/13): The Washington D.C.-based National Air and Space Museum will host a week long “First Moon Landing Celebration” next July to commemorate NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and its crew, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Launched July 16, 1969, Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar lander touched down at the moon’s Sea of Tranquility on July 20, permitting Armstrong and Aldrin to become the first humans to walk on the surface of another planetary body. Collins orbited overhead awaiting their return to the Apollo 11 command module Columbia for the trip back to Earth.

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