Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 13th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Trump White House and NASA assess human deep space exploration options afforded by the Space Launch System and Orion.

Human Deep Space Exploration

NASA moving ahead with plans for cislunar human outpost 

Space News (3/10): NASA is looking at launching components of a cis-lunar human outpost aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) exploration rocket as secondary payloads, NASA’s Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, told the American Astronautical Association Goddard Memorial Symposium last week. Early launch opportunities of the SLS with a sufficient upper stage propulsion system could come as soon as 2021 and 2023, he said. A factor in the decision is the outcome of a recently announced decision to study whether to launch astronauts aboard the first joint test flight of the SLS and Orion crew capsule. The Exploration Mission-1 currently slated for late 2018.

Trump, with NASA, has a new rocket and spaceship. Where’s he going to go?

Washington Post (3/12): NASA and its contractor team, led by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are developing a U.S. human deep space exploration capability. However, where they go next, how soon and the role of the U.S. private sector and international partners are all in play as a new president and his advisers sort through the opportunities and challenges.

Buzz Aldrin visits White House, talks space with Vice President Mike Pence

Inverse (3/11): Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin, an advocate for the human exploration of Mars, visited the White House on Friday to discuss space policy with Vice President Mike Pence. Pence would likely lead a cabinet-level National Space Council if the policy making ground is revived.


Space Science

Earth doesn’t really have any protections in place from asteroids

Huffington Post (3/10): Most judge the risk of a devastating collision between the Earth and an asteroid as remote. Yet it could happen, as witnessed with the explosion of a previously undetected 60-foot-wide asteroid over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia in 2013. Currently, NASA is working with the European Space Agency on a possible asteroid defense demonstration, the Asteroid Impact and Deflection mission.

Flecks of extraterrestrial dust, all over the roof

New York Times (3/10): Norwegian jazz musician Jon Larsen proves experts wrong by documenting the presence of space dust all around.

Cassini glimpses saucer-shaped moon plowing through Saturn’s rings (3/11): The joint U.S./European Cassini mission spacecraft is in its final months at Saturn. The final orbits are sending the large orbiter through the rings, a course that recently afforded views of the strange moon Pan.

Curiosity Rover documentary details Mars robot’s science discoveries (3/10): A new documentary ties together scientific discovery with drama as it tells the story of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. The spacecraft landed in Mars’ Gale Crater in August 2012 and soon found evidence in the rock and soil of a past habitable environment. The rover’s work continues.


Low Earth Orbit

NASA’s new ozone layer watchdog takes orbit

Inverse (3/10): SAGE III, an Earth atmospheric monitor, was installed outside the International Space Station last week using the orbiting lab’s Canadian robot arm. The monitor was delivered in February aboard the most recent NASA contracted resupply mission. SAGE III will monitor stratospheric ozone levels and atmospheric pollutants.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Atlas V technical issue delays OA-7 Cygnus flight to NET March 21

Spaceflight Insider (3/10): NASA and Orbital ATK expect at least a two-day delay in the planned March 19 launch of the next NASA contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station. The new target launch date is March 21at 10:56 p.m., EST, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The hefty science payload is part of a near four ton cargo. The delay will permit replacement of a hydraulic system component on the mission’s Atlas V rocket.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of March 13-17, 2017 – UPDATE (3/12): Several space policy meetings are scheduled in the Washington D.C. area and Berlin, Germany this week.




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