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Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 9th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Members of the House Space Subcommittee expressed frustration Wednesday over the delay of a 2020 President’s Budget Request supplement for NASA, to include proposed steps and costs for an accelerated human return to the Moon. Boeing unveils plans for a lunar orbiting human tended Gateway. Blue Origin will make an announcement about their plans in a media event today.

Human Space Exploration

Horn: “We’re flying blind” on Moon 2024 proposal

Spacepolicyonline.com (5/08): The White House’s slow to reveal NASA 2020 budget supplemental proposal intended to take into account a March 26 directive from Vice President Mike Pence to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024 received a critical reception Wednesday during a U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee hearing. The budget update is at least one to two weeks away, according to NASA representatives. “We’re flying blind,” said U.S. Rep. Sandra Horn, who chairs the panel.

Boeing reveals prototype of Gateway lunar orbiter

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Aerospace Testing International (5/9): Boeing is testing a demonstrator for a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The components include a habitat and airlock that could be paired with a power and propulsion element, also furnished by Boeing. The early elements of a Gateway could be assembled to hasten a human return to the lunar surface by 2024 as called for in late March by the White House. In all, NASA is working with six U.S. companies on Gateway concepts.

SpaceX had a problem during a parachute test in April

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Ars Technica (5/8): In testimony Wednesday before the U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, described an “unsuccessful” test of the parachute system for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule in April. The SpaceX test was structured such that one of four parachutes was failed in order to assess the performance of the other three to handle a descent. NASA and SpaceX are investigating what could be a second challenge to the company’s efforts to launch the capsule to the ISS on a test flight with a crew on board this year. The company also experience an issue during a ground test of abort thrusters in April.

Russia, U.S. extend agreement on astronauts’ travels to Space Station on board of Soyuz

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

TASS of Russia (5/9): NASA and Russia’s space agency have agreed to the purchase of two crew seats aboard the Soyuz launch vehicle used to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The seats, available in 2019 and 2020, will help to assure a U.S. presence aboard the space station as NASA works with its Commercial Crew Program partners SpaceX and Boeing to certify the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner for the launch of astronauts to and from the Space Station.

How much did Apollo 11 astronauts make for flying to Moon? Less than you think

Orlando Sentinel (5/8): As U.S. Government civil servants and military officers, the three persons who carried out NASA’s historic Apollo 11 Moon landing, 50 years ago in July, earned little. Recalculated to today’s standards it’s more impressive.

 

Space Science

The 15 biggest space missions of the next decade

Popular Mechanics (5/8): Where might the headlines emerge in the next decade of global space exploration? Possibly, multi-national missions to Mars and NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is to look back at the earliest epoch of the universe and scan the atmospheres of extra-solar planets for bio signatures.

India to launch lunar mission that would be first to explore moon’s south pole region

NBC News (5/7): By September, India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission may have a lander and rover at the Moon’s south pole. The mission is to launch the week of July 9 with an orbiter, lander and rover, which is designed for two weeks of surface exploration. So far, the U.S., Russia and China are the only nations to have landed on the Moon, which is a revived focus of global robotic and human exploration. The Moon’s south pole is believed to be rich in water ice deposits, a resource for life support as well as the production of rocket propellants.

Even if we can stop a dangerous asteroid, being human may mean we don’t succeed

Space.com (5/8): Presentations and simulations at past week’s International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference pointed out that it may take more than technology to alter the course of a large asteroid on a course to impact the Earth. Who makes the decision to defend the Earth and who launches the mission?  Those are just two of the issues international representatives are attempting to work through.

Habitability of planets will depend on their interiors

Universe Today (5/8): Perhaps the habitability of extra solar planets relies on more than their distances from a host star and the characteristics of their atmospheres. On Earth, we are here in large part habitable because of a molten iron core that supports a magnetic field with enough strength to shield surface life from the hazards of solar and cosmic radiation. And there may be more geophysical factors.

NASA is developing ‘soft robots’ to help explore other worlds

Space.com (5/8): NASA interns have come up with a “soft robot” concept that could be flexible enough to explore a wider range of planetary environments, including the Moon and perhaps beyond.

 

Other News

Jeff Bezos is about to speak publicly about Blue Origin, his secretive rocket company

CNN Business (5/8): Jeff Bezos may be ready to bring Blue Origin, his secretive space company, out of the shadows. The firm has spent two decades quietly designing and testing new rocket technologies that Bezos hopes will help usher in a science fiction future where millions of people live and work among the stars. The Amazon (AMZN) CEO and world’s wealthiest person recently described Blue Origin as the “most important work” he’s doing. But so far he’s mostly forgone flashy announcements, and instead has encouraged employees to adopt mantras like “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.”

Congressional report: Space Force would cost billions more than DoD estimated

SpaceNews.com (5/8): Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office suggest the cost of a U.S. Space Force might approach an additional $1.3 billion annually.

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