Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 19th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… In Europe, Airbus achieves an integration milestone in the preparation of the European service module that is to provide power and propulsion for NASA’s Orion crew exploration capsule. NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) discovers its first extra solar planet.

Human Space Exploration

Orion’s first service module integration complete

European Space Agency (9/18): In Bremen, Germany, Airbus has finished assembling the components of the European service module required for the first joint test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew module, or Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1). EM-1, envisioned for 2020, will take Orion uncrewed around the Moon and back to Earth for an ocean splashdown and recovery. After functional testing in Bremen, the premier service module is to be shipped to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to join with Orion. The full Orion spacecraft with service module will then ship to the NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook facility for space environmental testing. Airbus is working on the service module for EM-2, the first test flight of the SLS and Orion with astronauts as well.

To avoid vision problems in space, astronauts will need some kind of artificial gravity

Universe Today (9/18): A recent study aboard the International Space Station (ISS) with mice serving as subjects suggests that artificial gravity may be a valuable countermeasure for some of the long term effects of weightless on human space explorers. A recent concern is diminished vision. Sixty percent of astronauts assigned to long-duration missions aboard the Space Station have reported some vision impairment. Professor Michael Delp, the Dean of the College of Human Sciences at Florida State University (FSU), is among those who published a recent study on health issues in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Texas native becomes first female to lead NASA’s Mission Control flight directors

Houston Chronicle (9/17): Holly Riding, a 20 year NASA veteran, will serve as chief flight director at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), home to NASA’s Mission Control. In her new role, she will manage all 32 flight directors and flight directors-in-training. These individuals are in charge of keeping the astronauts and the International Space Station (ISS) safe by leading teams of controllers, researchers, engineers and support personnel at the Houston center.


Space Science

The TESS space telescope has spotted its first exoplanet

Science News (9/18): Launched in April, NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has confirmed its first extra solar planet discovery. The find is part of the satellite’s August 7 “first light” image. Larger than the Earth, the planet Pi Men orbits a bright sun like star 60 light-years from Earth.

ExoMars mission highlights radiation risk for Mars astronauts, and watches as dust storm subsides

ESA (9/19): Launched in 2016, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Trace Gas Orbiter mission to Mars maneuvered into orbit around the Red Planet in April. Sensors aboard the spacecraft reinforce radiation concerns for astronauts assigned to Mars missions during the journey itself. Findings were presented this week during the European Planetary Science Conference in Berlin.

Ice volcanoes have likely been erupting for billions of years on Ceres

Ars Technica (9/18): Unlikely as it may seem, NASA’s Dawn mission to the large asteroid/dwarf planet Ceres, suggests the outer solar system body has supported dozens of cryo volcanoes in the past. Dawn entered orbit around Ceres just over three years ago. Nearly out of fuel, Dawn’s asteroid belt explorations are coming to a conclusion.


Other News

China to launch Long March-9 rocket in 2028

Xinhuanet of China (9/19): China’s Long March 9 heavy lift rocket, capable of placing 50 metric tons in a lunar transfer orbit, should launch for the first time in 2028, according to a Chinese space official speaking at the World Conference on Science Literacy 2018 in Beijing this week.

Air Force Association opposes establishment of a Space Force, says air and space are ‘indivisible’ (9/18): In a position paper, the Air Force Association explains its opposition to the Trump Administration’s creation of a U.S. Space Force, a sixth branch of the military. A better, less disruptive approach would be to combine the new branch of the military with the U.S. Air Force under the U.S. Aerospace Force banner, according to the association.

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