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Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 22nd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Spacewalking NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague are to initiate a power storage battery change out outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday. The White House National Space Council meeting planned for next Tuesday may focus on accelerating efforts to make a sustained U.S. return to the lunar surface with human explorers.

Human Space Exploration

Final suit checks and reviews before Friday’s spacewalk

NASA (3/21): U.S. astronauts Anne McClain and Nick Hague are to embark early Friday on the first of two spacewalks to replace aging nickel hydrogen power storage batteries on the port side of the International Space Station (ISS) solar power truss. They hope to kick off a two spacewalk effort to replace a dozen of the aging batteries with six higher technology lithium ion batteries. A second spacewalk is planned for March 29, the first conducted by two women, McClain and NASA colleague Christina Koch. Live coverage began at 6:30 a.m., EDT, at www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Vice President may tell NASA to accelerate lunar landings

Ars Technica (3/22): The White House National Space Council, led by Vice President Mike Pence, is to convene next Tuesday in Huntsville, Alabama. According to one of those slated to participate, the discussion is likely to be focused on accelerating efforts led by NASA to make a sustained human return to the lunar surface. The target date is now 2028. “We are going to see a few fireworks,” said Jack Burns, a University of Colorado astrophysicist and one of the panelists.

Boeing reaches long awaited SLS engine section milestone as NASA makes EM-1 2020 schedule push

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

NASAspaceflight.com (3/21): Boeing, NASA’s prime contractor for the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS), reached a milestone this week in efforts to make up for schedule delays that appear to have pushed the first test launch of the big rocket and an uncrewed Orion capsule called Exploration Missioin-1 (EM-1) beyond its mid-2020 target date. Some are predicting the multi-week test flight that is to take the capsule around the Moon and back to Earth is slipping into 2021. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recently raised the possibility of turning to a commercial rocket alternative to hold the 2020 schedule. The Boeing milestone involves development of the SLS first stage engine section.

Space bureaucracy should not slow America down against competitors

The Hill (3/21): Bureaucracy may be eroding the U.S. space dominance, enabling Russia and China opportunities to contest leadership, writes Mike Rogers, a former Michigan congressman and chair of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. “We need to be more agile in space and change the way we acquire space capabilities,” he writes.

Meet the veteran astronaut who’ll be on the first launch of Boeing’s Starliner

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

MIT Review (3/20): Veteran NASA astronaut Mike Fincke talks about his test flight assignment aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program effort to restore a U.S. human space launch capability that was interrupted with the retirement of NASA’s shuttle fleet in 2011. Earlier this year, Fincke was named to replace colleague Eric Boe, a fellow veteran NASA astronaut, who encountered a medical issue.

U.S. Postal Service reveals stamps for Moon landing 50th anniversary

Collectspace.com (3/21): At midweek, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled two stamps commemorating  the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing carried out by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the Eagle lander module while their colleague Michael Collins orbited the Moon in the Columbia command module. A stamp release date is to be announced. The Apollo 11 landing unfolded on July 20, 1969.

 

Space Science

Why this poisonous gas could be a sign of alien life

Space.com (3/21): Researchers at the University of California/Riverside are urging fellow scientists not to dismiss the detection of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere of a distant planet as a nonstarter for the possibility of life below.

NASA official confident on UAE’s Mars Hope mission

Gulf News UAE (3/20): NASA is expressing confidence in as well as technical support for a United Arab Emirates (UAE) mission to Mars planned for launch in 2020. The orbital Mars observation mission is named Hope, and it may help to elevate the country’s standing among nations engaged in space exploration.

 

Other News 

Dream Chaser spacecraft passes another NASA milestone

SpaceNewsfeed.com (3/21): Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser has cleared a key milestone on its path to become a NASA contracted commercial resupply provider for the International Space Station (ISS). The review assessed Dream Chaser’s flight computers and software, mission simulator and flight control facilities as well as a demonstration using a high fidelity vehicle mock up and its cargo module. An inaugural cargo mission is planned for the spring of 2021.

Germany begins reusability study to capture rockets in midair and land them with a plane

SpaceNews.com (3/21): This week, DLR, the German space agency, described plans to study a reusable launch concept in which a winged first stage rocket booster would be captured by an airplane as it was descending, then towed to the final stages of a landing. DLR has named the concept Falcon and envisions a three year study.

Arianespace launches Vega rocket with Prisma

Spaceflightinsider.com (3/22): An Arianespace Vega rocket launch from French Guiana late Thursday placed an Italian Space Agency imaging satellite called Prisma into Earth orbit with sensors to reduce pollution.

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