Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 4th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany again provided a forum Wednesday for announcements regarding future human U.S. deep space exploration initiatives. SpaceX sees the launch of its first Dragon commercial crew test launch slipping beyond November. Columbia University astronomers believe they may be the first to discover a moon beyond the solar system. Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft deploys a third lander to the surface of the asteroid Ryugu.

Human Space Exploration

Lockheed Martin unveils plans for huge reusable Moon lander for astronauts

Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (10/3): Lockheed Martin on Wednesday unveiled a concept for a four person reusable lunar lander that could transport up to four astronauts from orbit around the Moon to the lunar surface. NASA’s planned lunar orbiting human tended Gateway, slated to undergo assembly starting in 2022, could serve as an orbital hub.

First Orion service module ready for shipment to the U.S.

Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (10/3): The European assembled service module for the first NASA Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion test flight, an uncrewed mission around the Moon, should be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) by the end of October, or soon after, but in a time frame sufficient to support the launch of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), as the test flight has been designated, by mid-2020, according to NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) representatives attending the International Astronautical Conference this week in Bremen, Germany. Delays in the development of the service module have slowed plans for EM-1 and added to development costs.

After more speculation about cause of ISS leak, NASA issues another statement

Ars Technica (10/3): NASA had more to say Wednesday about Russian speculation over the cause of a small leak detected in the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS) in late August. The leak was repaired quickly, but the cause remains unclear — a manufacturing lapse or something intentional. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency was quoted this week as saying a preliminary investigation has concluded it was not a Russian manufacturing issue. In a statement, NASA said Rogozin’s claim does not necessarily mean the hole was the consequence of an intentional activity.

First SpaceX commercial crew test flight could slip to 2019

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/3): In remarks Wednesday before the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, SpaceX’s Hans Konigsman said the company’s first Dragon commercial crew test launch could be delayed from late this year to early 2019. He cited efforts to meet NASA commercial crew certification requirements. The flight, a Falcon 9 and crewed Dragon with no one board, has been planned for November, followed closely by a flight with astronauts aboard. NASA would like to certify both Boeing and SpaceX rockets and capsules to begin transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) by the end of 2019.


Space Science

Hubble Space Telescope boosts evidence for first exo-moon seen circling alien planet (10:3): Columbia University researchers offer evidence for the first discovery of an extra solar moon in the journal Science Advances. Their observations gathered with NASA’s Kepler extra solar planet hunter and the Hubble Space Telescope suggest the exo-moon candidate is large, Neptune sized, and the planet Jupiter sized. The planetary companions, Kepler-1625b and Kepler-1625i, orbit a sun like but older star. The planet and prospective moon are separated by about two million miles, raising the possibility they are a binary planetary system. The astronomers urge additional observations, possibly using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), to erase any uncertainty.

Hayabusa2 drops a lander on asteroid Ryugu

New York Times (10/3): Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft, surveying the distant asteroid Ryugu since late June, succeeded in dropping a third lander, nicknamed Mascot, onto the asteroid’s surface late Tuesday and early Monday. Small but larger than two other landers similarly deployed to the surface of Ryugu on Sept. 22, Mascot has but a 16 hour battery life to characterize the Ryugu’s soil and boulders. Late this month, Hayabusa 2 is to descend to the surface for the first of three attempts to gather samples of the soil for return to Earth in late 2020.

A NASA-funded study says long trips in space could destroy astronauts’ stomachs and cause cancer

CNN (10/2): A NASA funded study, using mice as subjects, suggests that deep space radiation exposures like those anticipated during long deep space voyages to destinations like Mars could have permanent ill effects on the human gastrointestinal system and other tissues. The study carried out by researchers from the Georgetown University Medical Center points to the need for countermeasures from lengthy cosmic radiation exposures.


Other News

NASA teams up with Israel on probe launching to Moon’s surface next year

Houston Chronicle (10/3): NASA will work with Israel and a nonprofit former Lunar Google X-Prize contender, SpaceIL, on a robotic mission scheduled to launch to the Moon in February.  A NASA instrument is to hitch a ride on the mission to characterize the Moon’s magnetic field. The U.S. space agency will provide data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), circling the moon since 2009, to its Israeli partners in exchange.

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