In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s plans for a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway in the 2020s offer the world’s space agencies an opportunity to prepare for the human exploration of Mars as well as the Moon. Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission deploys two small camera equipped landers to the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. Japan’s seventh resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched Saturday and should reach the six person orbiting lab on Thursday.
Human Space Exploration
The Guardian of Great Britain (9/22): The European Space Agency (ESA) is assessing joining NASA and other nations in the assembly of a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway. Ministers from ESA member states will make a decision next year. Supporters believe the Gateway will open human access to the Moon’s surface for science and a search for resources like lunar water, while providing a vantage point for radio astronomy. Most of all a lunar Gateway will prepare human explorers for expeditions to Mars.
Aerospace America (9/17): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the Trump administration’s goal of landing Americans on the surface of the Moon and someday Mars will require companies and international partners, because “we want to do more than even our growing budget can handle.” “We have to have international partners, we have to have commercial partners, and we need to build an architecture where everybody has a piece to play,” Bridenstine said. Otherwise, a program to return to the Moon won’t be “sustainable,” he added.
Associated Press via New York Times (9/22): Dmitry Rogozin, who leads Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, questioned Russian participation in a NASA led, human tended, lunar orbiting Gateway planned for assembly in the 2020s. Russia is not to be a “second tier” participant in a NASA initiative, according to Rogozin, a Russian news agency, reported. A spokesman for Roscosmos later said the agency was not planning to depart the project.
Spaceflightnow.com (9/23): Delayed several times this month by weather and a propulsion issue, Japan’s seventh cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched Saturday with a cargo exceeding 10,000 pounds. The capsule should reach the six person Station early Thursday. The cargo includes a small Japanese return capsule designed to independently return science payloads to Earth and a half dozen external lithium ion batteries to upgrade the Station’s solar power generation system. The battery installation will require future NASA led spacewalks.
Space.com (9/22): The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency announced early Saturday that two rover/hoppers dispatched Friday by the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft had successfully reached the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. Both were hopping on the surface and transmitting images back to Earth. Hayabusa 2 is to gather samples from the surface of Ryugu in October and in 2019 for return to Earth in late 2020.
Politico (9/21): The U.S. could soon be without a federal budget, as it looks like Congress will not complete its work on a 2019 spending plan by the time of the October 1 start of the new fiscal year. NASA’s maturing planetary protection initiative and plans to launch an asteroid defense demonstration mission in 2022 could be jeopardized if lawmakers and the White House instead enact a “continuing resolution” that limits spending across all federal agencies to 2018 levels. NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office budget was set to rise from about $60 million in 2018 to $150 million in 2019.
Ars Technica (9/21): NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission has been busy since its April liftoff. After in orbit commissioning, the satellite began its study of 10,000 stars for evidence of Earth like planets. Two discoveries have been logged so far. TESS will replace NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which is nearly out of fuel after experiencing multiple reaction wheel, or pointing device, failures.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (9/21): NASA’s next Mars rover, Mars 2020, is being prepared for a mid-2020 launch. Upon landing, the rover is to collect and cache samples of Martian soil and rock that are to be eventually returned to Earth for analysis by scientists. The agency is seeking a corporate, nonprofit or educational partner to help sponsor a 2019 school year, student contest to rename the Mars 2020 rover. Partner proposals are due NASA by October 9.
Xinhuanet of China (9/21): Scientists with the Chinese Academy of Science are urging greater global cooperation in the identification of asteroids that pose a collision threat to the Earth and establishing defenses.
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic Technologies
EE Times (9/17): NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is offering the U.S. commercial and academic sectors opportunities to advance exploration, while at the same time expanding a national economy. An example is Astrobotic Technologies autonomous landing system, which has been flight tested at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The effort is advancing a capability for a robotic spacecraft to avoid terrain hazards as it lands on a planetary surface.
Federal News Radio (9/22): NASA astronaut Scott Tingle foresees a growing public interest in NASA and its activities as the agency becomes more focused on human exploration. Interest is most likely to rise among the nation’s school children, Tingle, a Navy aviator, believes.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Spacepolicyonline.com (9/23): Action in the U.S. House is anticipated this week to ensure the preparation of a budget continuing resolution for all federal agencies in advance of the start U.S. 2019 fiscal year on October 1. Congress and the White House have not passed a budget for the entire fiscal year. The continuing resolution would keep the federal government functioning through December 7. Agencies like NASA and NOAA as well as the military and Homeland Security are affected. On Wednesday, House as well as Senate committees responsible for NASA policy setting will host hearings on the agency’s space leadership. A Japanese cargo mission to the six person International Space Station (ISS) that was launched on Saturday is expected to reach the ISS early Thursday.
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