Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 30th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA picks nine U.S. rocket companies as partners for future activities on the lunar surface.  NASA anticipates another deep space milestone on Monday, as its first asteroid sample return mission spacecraft Osiris Rex reaches its target, Bennu. Retiring U.S. Air Force brigadier general Wayne Monteith will lead the Department of Transportation’s Office of Commercial Space Flight.

Human Space Exploration

NASA selects nine companies for commercial lunar lander program

Coalition Members in the News – Astrobotic Technology, Inc, Lockheed Martin, Deep Space Systems (Other CDSE teammates on winning teams include Dynetics, Paragon Space, and United Launch Alliance) (11/29): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Thursday announced the names of nine U.S. companies chosen to compete for lunar lander missions as part of the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which is intended to pave the way for a sustained human return to the Moon for missions focused on science and the identification of resources to support future space exploration. The efforts are to pave the way for eventual human exploration to Mars and other distant destinations. The companies are eligible for up to $2.6 billion in total over 10 years. The companies include veterans like Lockheed Martin and Draper plus a lineup of relative newcomers.

The man who won the Moon race

Air and Space Magazine (December): NASA’ Apollo 8, which sent three astronauts on a mission around the Moon and back to Earth over Christmas 1968, was a bold move and significant contribution to a U.S. victory in the Cold War race to the Moon. The 50th anniversary of the historic mission approaches. The late George Low, who headed NASA’s office of manned spaceflight, backed the bold move.

Bridenstine: SpaceX, Boeing safety review prompted by past tragedies, not just Musk

Coalition Member in the New – Boeing (11/29): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine explained Thursday that a recent decision by NASA to assess the workplace safety culture of its two Commercial Crew Program partners, Boeing and SpaceX, was prompted by historical events, not by concerns that arose over a recent podcast by SpaceX founder Elon Musk.


Space Science

NASA provides live coverage of spacecraft arrival at asteroid that may have answers to the origin of our Solar System

NASA/Goddard (11/28): NASA is offering a live NASA TV and website viewing opportunity to follow along as the Osiris-Rex asteroid sample return mission spacecraft reaches its destination, Bennu, on Monday. Programming begins at 11:15 a.m., EST, Osiris-Rex was launched in September 2016 on a seven year $1 billion mission. After close up reconnaissance to select a landing site, the probe is to descend to the surface of Bennu briefly in July 2020 to gather up to 70 ounces of loose soil and rock. The spacecraft will return to Earth, directing a sample return capsule into the Earth’s atmosphere for a descent onto the grounds of the U.S. Army’s Utah Test and Training Range on September 24, 2023.

AI robot CIMON debuts at International Space Station (ISS) (11/29): Earlier this month, European astronaut Alexander Gerst exchanged words with CIMON, an artificial intelligence technology demonstration robot aboard the International Space Station (ISS).


Other News

Launch companies reduce vehicle options to lower costs

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (11/28): United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Blue Origin are leading a new launch industry trend as they reduce the number of options planned for their future rocket offerings, the Vulcan Centaur and New Glenn respectively.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao appoints Monteith to FAA associate administrator for commercial space

FAA (11/29): U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Thursday named Wayne Monteith as the next associate administrator for commercial space transportation, effective January 20. Monteith, an Air Force brigadier general who will formally retire from the military on service December 1, will lead efforts to reform the regulation of U.S. commercial space activities endorsed by the Trump Administration.

White House seeks alternatives to independent Space Force

Defense One (11/28): The Pentagon is assessing four alternatives to a new sixth independent branch of the military known as a Space Force. Among the options are a branch organized within the Air Force and comprised of Air Force assets; an Air Force option that adds assets from the Army and Navy; an independent branch that relies on assets from the Air Force, Army and Navy; an option similar to the previous that adds assets from the intelligence community to those of the Air Force, Army and Navy. An adjustment in the White House’s original proposal could make it more acceptable to Congress.

Indian rocket launches 31 satellites (11/29): Thursday’s, (late Wednesday U.S. time) launch of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle included deployments of a primary payload, an Earth imager, and 30 small satellites. The small satellite deployment included 16 from San Francisco based Planet for Earth imaging.

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