Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 8th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Moon rises as a global focus of human exploration. The Hubble Space Telescope encounters gyroscope problems. SpaceX sticks inaugural West Coast Falcon 9 first stage landing attempt.

Human Space Exploration

Foust Forward | The Moon bounces back (10/6): As last week’s annual International Astronautical Conference came to a close in Bremen, Germany, it was clear the Moon has returned as an enthusiastic focus of future human and robotic exploration. Mars, a focus in 2016 and 2017, however, continued to find a place in technical presentations.

Pioneer astronaut, 86, urges NASA to push boundaries

Houston Chronicle (10/5): Apollo 7 astronaut Walt Cunningham finds NASA held back in its mission to explore by a risk adverse society. Cunningham, a Marine Corps veteran, and now 86, spoke Friday at Space Center Houston as part of a Thought Leaders speaker presentation.


Space Science

Hubble Space Telescope apparently in ‘safe mode’ after gyroscope failure (7/8): The Earth orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has experienced multiple gyroscope failures forcing the observatory into “safe mode,” according to a series of social media comments from mission team members on Sunday. The space observatory was launched in 1990 and serviced several times by NASA space shuttle crews.

NASA Voyager 2 could be nearing interstellar space

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (10/5): Launched in 1977 on a flyby mission past the solar system’s most distant planets, NASA’s Voyager 2 probe has now traveled nearly 11 billion miles and detected a rise in cosmic ray exposure — a sign it’s preparing to leave the solar system.

NASA’s Dawn and Kepler missions near their ends (10/4): Two long running NASA spacecraft missions: Dawn ,in orbit about the icy asteroid Ceres; and Kepler, a space telescope credited with the discovery of more than 2600 planets beyond the solar system, will soon come to an end because they are out of fuel. Dawn launched in 2007 and Kepler in 2009. Both have overcome problems with their reaction wheel aiming devices.

MASCOT lander sends back otherworldly views of asteroid Ryugu’s rugged terrain

Geek Wire (10/5): Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft dispatched a third small lander to the surface of the asteroid Ryugu last week. The Mascot lander’s images of Ryugu reveal a dark and bumpy surface.


Other News

Top Pentagon official Mike Griffin proposes new space agency that ‘disrupts’ traditional procurement (10/7): The proposed Space Development Agency would change how the Pentagon manages future space technology programs and acquires new technologies. The proposal from Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is part of an effort by the White House to establish a Space Force as a sixth branch of the military.

SpaceX stages California launch and landing in a new first

CBS News (10/7): After launching an Argentine polar orbiting Earth observation satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, late Sunday, SpaceX succeeded in recovering the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket with a landing on the grounds of the military base. It was a West Coast first for the launch services company.

As Elon Musk settled with the SEC, SpaceX briefly found itself in the crosshairs

Florida Today (10/5): While SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk addresses issues with the Security and Exchange Commission, SpaceX president and CEO Gwynne Shotwell keeps a firm hand on the controls of the launch services company.

China’s Tiangong-2 space laboratory to be deorbited after July 2019 (10/7): Last week, the China Manned Space Engineering Office expressed plans for a controlled deorbit of the 250 mile high orbiting Tiangong-2 space laboratory sometime after July 2019. Launched in September 2016, the 8 1/2 metric ton Chinese space lab was subsequently occupied by two taikonauts for 30 days and visited three times by cargo vessels.

The prospects for a space gold rush

Politico (10/5): Might space resources found on asteroids and other planetary bodies bring new riches to the people of Earth? The optimists must learn to be realistic in their assessments, according to Jim Reilly, a geologist and former NASA astronaut who now heads the U.S. Geological Society. The challenges include determining how much of a valuable resource, such as platinum, is actually present on a given asteroid and then how to gain effective access.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of October 7-13, 2018 (10/7): Activities this week include the two day International Symposium on Personal and Commercial Space Flight in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Early Thursday, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin are to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from Kazakhstan. The U.S. Senate is in session this week after the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

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