Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 3rd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Russia calls for a more active role in a NASA proposed human, tended lunar orbiting Gateway. NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) partners favor extending operations of the ISS beyond 2024. Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft succeeds in landing a small German/French hopper/rover, Mascot, on the surface of the asteroid Ryugu.

Human Space Exploration

Russian official sounds skeptical note about Gateway (10/2): Dmitri Loskutov, who leads international cooperation at Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said Moscow is not satisfied with a backup role in a NASA led effort to assemble a human tended, lunar orbiting Gateway. Russia, however, is interested in lunar exploration, said Loskutov at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. “For the moment, all the decisions are made by NASA. It seems U.S. standards will be imposed,” he said. “For Roscosmos and the Russian Federation, limited participation is not that interesting.” NASA, which has endorsed international and commercial partnerships, is working on a Gateway governance formula.

ISS partners show interest in Station extension (10/2): Representatives of the European, Japanese and Russian space agencies expressed support for extending International Space Station (ISS) operations beyond 2024, regardless of White House instructions to NASA to transition oversight to the private sector by 2025.


Space Science

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe swinging by Venus on way to sun

Associated Press via New York Times (10/2): Wednesday is Venus gravity assist day for NASA’s Solar Parker Probe, which launched August 12 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for unprecedented close scrutiny of the sun, including the solar corona, magnetosphere and radiation. In all seven flybys will be necessary to draw the spacecraft every closer to its solar target.

MASCOT lands safely on asteroid Ryugu

DLR the German Aerospace Center (10/3): The German/French Mascot lander aboard the Japanese Hayabusa 2 spacecraft was released about 51 meters over the asteroid Ryugu on Tuesday at 9:58 p.m., EDT. The small, 22 pound spacecraft descended to a landing about 20 minutes later. DLR led the lander’s development along with the French Space Agency CNES. The Minerva 1a and 1b hopper/rover landers were deployed to Ryugu’s surface by Hayabusa 2 on September 22. Hayabusa’s stay at Ryugu will continue into late 2019 for three surface landing/ sample gathering sessions before the spacecraft begins its journey back to Earth, now about 202 million miles away. Hayabusa 2, launched in December 2014, arrived at Ryugu in late June.

Descent begins for European asteroid lander (10/2): Released late Tuesday from its Japanese Hayabusa 2 mother ship just above the surface of the asteroid Ryugu, the German/French lander/hopper Mascot is to undertake a brief exploration. Here’s a preview of what is to unfold on the surface and how the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout, or Mascot, works.


Other News

Moon Express secures $10 million funding to advance Cape Canaveral operations

Florida Today (10/1): The Florida startup Moon Express announced itself the recipient of a $10 million investment that will help to build up test facilities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, as well as continue with the development of robotic lunar landers. The one time Google Lunar X-Prize competitor has raised $43 million from investors so far and hopes to reach the lunar surface with a payload by 2020.

A new solution to the space junk problem. Spacecraft with plasma beams to force space junk to burn up

Universe Today (10/2): Japanese and Australian researchers are looking into a technology that would feature an ion beam source to drive growing amounts of manmade orbital debris toward a destructive plunge into the Earth’s atmosphere.

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