Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 2nd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Russia’s federal space agency announces formal conclusions from its investigation into the safe but dramatic Soyuz rocket launch abort with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin aboard. Russia plans to resume soyuz launches with International Space Station (ISS) crews on December 3. NASA’s ground breaking Dawn mission to the asteroid belt has come to a close.


Human Space Exploration

Crewed soyuz flights set to resume after Russia blames close call on final-assembly error (11/1): A Russian investigation into the October 11 abort of a soyuz rocket with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on board has attributed the cause to a rocket assembly error at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan. Specifically, the error was in the damage to a sensor pin in a liquid oxygen valve on one of four strap on first stage boosters. As the boosters separated about two minutes into flight, one of the boosters made contact with the core stage of the still ascending soyuz-FG booster, triggering the safe abort and landing of the two men in Kazakhstan rather than transporting them to the International Space Station (ISS). Russia hopes to resume soyuz launches with Space Station crew members on December 3. NASA is reviewing the findings of the Russian investigation panel.

Russians trace soyuz launch abort to faulty sensor

CBS News via (11/1): Soyuz rockets being prepared for upcoming flights will be inspected to make sure no similar problems exist, Russia’s space agency announced after a panel of experts concluded the cause of a safe but dramatic October 11 soyuz rocket launch abort with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin aboard was caused by a launch site assembly error. Russia would like to resume launching soyuz rockets with astronauts and cosmonauts on board on December 3. Prior to a crewed return to flight of the soyuz, similar launch vehicles are to launch Russian navigation and weather satellites as well as a Progress cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Hague and Ovchinin’s intended destination.

Soyuz space crew launch failure 2018 (11/1): The website offers a look back at its news coverage of the events surrounding and following the October 11 soyuz rocket launch abort with NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two men returned to Earth safely, and a Russian investigation followed. The transportation of crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS) is unclear until a soyuz launches new crew members to the Space Station again, a milestone planned for December.


Space Science

Independent board chair calls JWST a “step too far” (11/1): Currently planned for a March 2021 launch atop a European Space Agency (ESA) Ariane 5 rocket, the technically challenging and expensive James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may represent a step too far for NASA, according to Tom Young, who chairs an independent panel that examined the lengthy development effort. Young addressed two NASA advisory panels this week, the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics of the National Academies Space Studies Board and the NASA Advisory Council’s science committee. The difficulties offer NASA a “lessons learned” that should be applied to other projects, said Young, who noted, “if it was a program that did not have the high scientific potential and the U.S. leadership aspects,” he continued, “I think it would be cancelled.” The observatory will seek out the universe’s earliest galaxies and study the atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system for evidence of biomarkers, or signs of alien life.

Another NASA spacecraft runs out of steam, 2nd this week

Washington Post (11/1): NASA’s Dawn mission, a spacecraft launched to the asteroid belt in 2007, has come to an end, NASA announced on Thursday. Like the extra solar planet searching Kepler space telescope, the Dawn spacecraft has run out of fuel after experiencing failures with reaction wheels, or its mechanical aiming devices.  And like Kepler, Dawn succeeded beyond expectations, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit two destinations, the large asteroid Vesta and minor planet Ceres. Ceres, which Dawn has orbited since 2015, has displayed signs of subsurface water and geophysical activity.

Geomagnetic storm predicted (11/1): Due to a surge in solar wind projected to impact the Earth’s magnetic field, there’s an increased chance of geomagnetic storms triggering auroral displays this weekend as far south from the North Pole as Washington D.C.


Other News

Additive machines prompt companies to throw out the rule books (11/1): The U.S. space sector is taking a forward look at the potential for hardware production offered by additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, according to Stewart Deadman, Burloak Technologies’ space products manager.

Seven years after the shooting that changed everything, Mark Kelly is still working on what comes next (10/30): Just over 7 years ago, retired NASA astronaut and naval aviator Mark Kelly grappled with a devastating assassination attempt on the life of his wife, U.S. Congress woman Gabriel Giffords, of Arizona. The couple has moved on, and Kelly, a four time NASA Space Shuttle mission pilot and commander, continues to weigh their options.

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