Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 8th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA logs an Orion abort system test this week and looks ahead to a “green run” test of the Space Launch System (SLS) as it prepares for Artemis -1, the first joint test flight of the big rocket and the Orion crew capsule to the Moon.

Human Space Flight

Stennis ready to begin “green run” rocket testing
WLOX of Mississippi (8/6): Rick Gilbrech, who directs NASA’s Stennis Space Center,  speaks on the significance of the Space Launch System (SLS) “green run” that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine recently committed to as a prerequisite to Artemis 1, the first joint test flight of the SLS and Orion. Artemis 1 is to be an uncrewed, multi week test flight of the Orion spacecraft around the Moon and back to Earth for recovery. The “green run” will first submit the SLS core stage for Artemis 1 to an eight minute full duration test firing of the stage’s four rocket engines, a prerequisite called for by NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel as well as members of Congress. Artemis 3 is to return to the Moon’s surface with astronauts in 2024.

Hot fire! Orion’s service module completes critical propulsion test
NASA (8/6): NASA’s Orion capsule underwent a 12 minute abort-to-orbit test this week in facilities at agency test facilities in White Sands, N.M. Under this week’s abort test scenario, Orion and its European Space Agency (ESA) furnished service module would separate from the Space Launch System’s (SLS) upper stage if it was troubled and maneuver safely into a temporary orbit with its astronaut crew. In all nine engines fired.

Medicine in space: What microgravity can tell us about human health
Scientific American (8/8): NASA Astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a medical doctor certified in internal as well as aerospace medicine, offers an informed look at the changes the human body experiences in the absence of gravity during her 197 day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) that ended earlier this year. Radiation exposure, loss of bone density and changes in vision experience by some astronauts are key concerns as human explorers prepare for deep space. The changes to at the cellular level, however, are offering new insights into diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as the aging process.

Science News

See NASA’s next-gen space telescope unfold like a weird Transformer
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
CNET (8/7): NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is huge, developed to see deep into the universe with high resolution and planned to launch in March 2021. Currently, it’s undergoing prelaunch testing at Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California. Checkout a ground based preview of the JWST’s secondary mirror as it unfolds after launch.

Shallow craters on Moon and Mercury may hide thick slabs of water ice (8/7): The data from two NASA planetary science missions — the still active Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) at the Moon and MESSENGER, a mission to Mercury that ended in 2015 — may offer clues as to which shadowed impact craters on planetary surfaces might host the most deposits of water ice. Water ice is a promising life support resource as well as a resource for the production of liquid hydrogen and oxygen rocket propellants. By studying 14,000 polar craters on the two bodies, 2,000 of them on Mercury, it appears that the shallower craters may be more likely to harbor ice. The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Other News

As dawn breaks over Florida, ULA Atlas V rocket lights up morning sky
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance
Florida Today (8/8): A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Thursday at 6:13 a.m., EDT, with a Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite. It was the second major rocket launch from Florida’s Space Coast within two days.

Rocket Lab wants to reuse its boosters by catching them with a helicopter
Yahoo Finance (8/7): Rocket Lab, the California based small satellite launch services company, is eager to recover the first stage of the company’s Electron rocket for reuse. The strategy, explained at this week’s Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University by company founder Peter Beck, involves equipping the first stage with a parachute. After firing and falling back to Earth, the parachute deploys so that the first stage can be recovered by a helicopter equipped with a large net.

X-37B military space plane’s latest mystery mission hits 700 days (8/7): The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane on Wednesday crossed the 700 day mark in Earth orbit since its launch on September 7, 2017. It’s the fifth flight for one of the two X-37B’s, whose activities are largely classified. Another 19 days in orbit and the fifth mission will surpass the previous longest X-37B, Orbital Test Vehicle flight to date, 718 days as the fourth mission touched down in May 2017.

ULA receives contract for what could be the final Delta 4 Heavy mission
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (8/7): The U.S. Air Force has contracted with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for what may be the final launch of the venerable Delta 4 rocket for a National Reconnaissance Office satellite.

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