In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Rocket reuse remains a topic of debate. NASA convenes a panel to experts to assess the Hubble Space Telescope’s gyroscope difficulties. Founder Richard Branson predicts Virgin Galactic will be launching soon with passengers.
Human Space Exploration
The Space Review (10/8): SpaceX has drawn global attention over its demonstrations recovering and reusing the first stage of its Falcon launch vehicles. However, the European Space Agency (ESA) and others have raised questions about how much of reuse equates to a cost savings and whether the penalty of launching the fuel for a landings takes away significant performance from missions with deep space objectives.
Room (10/8): The publication offers a summary of news making developments from last week’s International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany. They included new partnerships and missions, among them training for and access to the International Space Station (ISS) for the United Arab Emirates and space analog training environments on Earth to prepare astronauts for future human deep space exploration. Next year’s IAC is planned for Washington D.C.
Geek Wire (10/8): The Hubble Space Telescope has been in safe mode and science observations suspended since late Friday due to difficulties with one of three of the orbiting observatory’s active gyroscopes, or pointing devices. All half-dozen were replaced during the final space shuttle upgrade mission in 2009. In a statement, NASA noted that one of the three operational gyros is now experiencing a difficulty. NASA has convened an anomaly review board to assess the situation. Hubble was launched in 1990, and three of the remaining gyros are of a technically enhanced design.
Washington Post (10/8): Jupiter’s ice and salt water ocean covered moon Europa may be studded on the surface by towering blades of ice that would challenge efforts to explore it with a rover, according to a British researcher. NASA is assessing such a mission. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
ESA (10/8): The European Space Agency (ESA) plans to develop a reusable high performance rocket engine for lunar missions. The first mission, Hercules, is planned for 2026 and is intended to obtain samples of lunar soil for return to Earth. ESA will work the Japanese and Canadian space agencies on Hercules. Clusters of the new engines could be used to launch astronauts from the lunar surface to the NASA led lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway.
Gulf Today (10/8): On Sunday, the French space agency, CNES, opened an office in Abu Dhabi through its embassy, the first foreign space agency to establish a presence in the United Arab Emirates.
CNBC (10/9): Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, predicts his suborbital passenger company will be launching with people soon, a challenge the company has struggled to achieve. Speaking in Singapore, Branson said Virgin will be flying with people within weeks and that he will join those flying on SpaceShipTwo within months. “So I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is gigantic. And it is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand.”
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