In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Russia was not pleased to learn an invitation to its space agency chief from his NASA counterpart has been withdrawn. A partial U.S. government shutdown has introduced uncertainty into a launch date for the first NASA Commercial Crew Program test flight. China’s Chang’e 4 Yutu 2 lunar rover takes a breather.
Human Space Exploration
Moscow Times of Russia (1/7): Russia’s space agency expresses displeasure over NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s decision to rescind an invitation to Dmitry Rogozin, his Russian counterpart, to visit the U.S. Rogozin is among those sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 for his role in Russia’s annexation of Crimea while serving as Russia’s deputy prime minister. The October invitation, intended to strengthen ties between the two space programs drew protests from some members of Congress, and Bridenstine withdrew it late last week.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Ars Technica (1/7): A crucial test flight is approaching for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its SpaceX partner. The mission will be the first for the company’s crew Dragon and Falcon 9 and will take the capsule without astronauts from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to the International Space Station (ISS) for an automated docking. If all goes well, a test flight with astronauts is to follow. Boeing, also a NASA Commercial Crew Program partner, plans similar test flights this year. As with the early shuttle missions, the SpaceX and Boeing missions hold risk and are likely to reveal some surprises, according to human spaceflight veterans.
SpaceNews.com (1/7) China’s Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit 2, lunar rover rolled from the Chang’e 4 lander on January 3, a day after it became the first spacecraft to land on the Moon’s far side. Activities are in a pause phase through January 10, while the rover undergoes exposure to high temperatures. Mission payloads and lander systems have been checked out at the South Pole Aitkin Basin landing site. After initial operations, the lander/rover will experience a cold phase beginning January 12 in which some limited exploratory activities are anticipated.
The Verge (1/7): Launched last April as a successor to the Kepler space telescope, NASA’s TESS planet hunter has identified its third extra solar planet. HD 21749b is 53 light years from the Earth and by comparison smaller, closer to its dwarf star and hotter. TESS was developed and positioned in orbit around the Earth to search the closest stars for Earth like planets. Kepler’s successful search for more distant planets came to an end in October as the nine year old spacecraft exhausted its fuel supply.
Space.com (1/7): Space exploration reveals some bizarre activities across the universe, among them a recent find from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a massive interstellar cloud of gas that appears to be billions of years old and comprised of only hydrogen, the earliest element.
CNN (1/7): Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, an American of Chinese heritage, assesses the significance of China’s first ever far side Chang’e 4 lunar lander/rover mission in an op-ed. Chiao, who flew four missions on NASA’s shuttle, Russia’s Soyuz and the International Space Station (ISS), believes the U.S. must “step up its game” if it’s to sustain its leadership position in space.
SpaceNews.com (1/7): An independent study required by Congress of the White House Space Force proposal and conducted by the Center for Naval Analysis places the cost of implementation at $4.5 billion over five years. The study examines the structure of a separate branch of the military comprised of 16,000 to 19,000 personnel detailed from other branches of the military and led by a “lean” headquarters supported by services provided by private consultants. However, the largely classified CNA study cautioned it will be difficult to predict whether any strategy will produce the expected results.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Florida Today (1/6): CNN travel editors agree Florida’s space coast is one of the world’s top tourist attractions. In July, the region will join in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11, the first mission to land human explorers on the Moon. Also, this year is expected to mark a resumption of astronaut launches to the International Space Station (ISS) from the U.S., something not possible since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. Boeing and SpaceX will conduct the launches from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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