In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Unlike Apollo, NASA’s strategy to return to the lunar surface with astronauts is intended to establish a permanent presence, while preparing the agency for the human exploration of Mars and other deep space destinations, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine informs a U.S. Senate panel. Lawmakers in the U.S. House are joining with colleagues from the Senate to push for an extension of NASA led International Space Station (ISS) operations from 2024 to 2030. Blue Origin will provide the new BE-4 engine as the propulsion source for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan first stage.
Human Space Exploration
Space.com (9/27): A U.S. return to the Moon with human explorers during the 2020s intends to accomplish more than NASA’s Apollo program during the 1960s, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told a U.S. Senate subcommittee with NASA oversight earlier this week. Bridenstine told the panel’s chair, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, he is often asked now why it will take NASA 11 years, or by the end of the 2020s, to return to the lunar surface with astronauts when it took the agency seven years to respond to former president John F. Kennedy’s Moon speech of 1962. NASA intends a sustained return to the lunar surface and one that will explore a wide range of landing sites for resources of commercial value as well as for science, said Bridenstine. He also noted that NASA’ annual budgets of the 1960s were the equivalent of about $50 billion today, much more than the $20 billion the agency is working with in 2018.
SpaceNews.com (9/27): U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, chair of the House space subcommittee, introduced legislation this week calling on the White House to extend NASA oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) from 2024 to 2030, unless a viable commercial alternative surfaces. The Administration’s 2019 budget proposal, which is still under consideration, calls for a transition of NASA oversight of the six person Space Station to the private sector by 2025, with NASA one of multiple clients. Babin’s legislation is the Leading Human Spaceflight Act, H.R. 6910. Members of the Senate, with oversight ties to NASA have issued a similar call.
CBS News via Spaceflightnow.com (9/27): Japan’s 7th Kounotori resupply mission to the six person International Space Station (ISS), launched last Saturday, reached its destination early Thursday to deliver a more than 10,000 pound cargo. The delivery includes a European life support technology demonstration and a small Japanese cargo return capsule as well as a half dozen lithium ion external power storage batteries. The more light weight and efficient batteries are to replace a dozen aging nickel hydrogen batteries with carefully choreographed Canadian robotics and a pair of NASA spacewalks. NASA Station astronauts Drew Feustel and Serena Aunon Chancellor used the Station’s robot arm to grapple Kounotori as it rendezvoused with the Space Station at 7:34 a.m., EDT.
SpaceNews.com (9/27): Difficulties with the recovery from a July 2017 failure of China’s Long March 5 rocket, the rocket’s second launch, could stall plans by China to launch the core module of an independent space station, whose assembly was to begin in 2020. The failure prompted a redesign of the Long March 5 first stage engine and plans to introduce the Long March 5B variant. A slip in the launch of the third Long March 5 into 2019 appears likely. The pending delay announcement was attributed to comments from Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, during a Wednesday press conference in Beijing.
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
Physics.org (9/26): Technicians at Northrop Grumman have established a communications link between the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) bus and its optical science element during pre-launch integration and testing in Redondo Beach, California. The test was carried out earlier than planned as a risk reducer for the observatory, which is the designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The JWST is being prepared for a March 2021 launch.
Space.com (9/27): Last weekend, Japan’s Hyabusa 2 spacecraft maneuvered close to the asteroid Ryugu to dispatch a pair of small landers, the hopper/rovers designated Minerva II-1a and II 1b. Both are maneuvering on the surface of Ryagu and transmitting imagery, all before Hayabusa 2 attempts to touch down on Ryugu for sample gathering sessions.
Universe Today (9/27): NASA’s Juno mission spacecraft has been orbiting giant Jupiter since July 2016. A Spanish research effort has delved deep into Juno imagery of Jupiter’s famous giant red spot.
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne and United Launch Alliance
Spacepolicyonline.com (9/27): United Launch Alliance’s Tory Bruno announced Thursday the company has selected Blue Origin to provide the first stage rocket engine for the new Vulcan rocket. Blue Origin’s BE-4 breaks ground with its choice of propellants, liquid methane and oxygen. Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR-1 rocket engine was also under consideration. Both companies responded to a call from Congress to produce a domestic alternative to imports of Russia’s RD-180 rocket engine, which powers the first stage of the ULA Atlas V.
WAFF 48 of Huntsville Alabama (9/27): Blue Origin plans to assemble the company’s BE-4 rocket engine in Huntsville, Alabama.
Florida Today (9/28): In recent comments before a NASA Senate oversight panel as well as the NASA Advisory Council, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he’s open to selling naming rights to rocket and spacecraft as part of a strategy to fold the private sector into future U.S. space initiatives and reduce their cost.
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