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Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 11th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration joins the nation in recognizing our veterans – and their families.  Thank you for your sacrifice and your service. 

Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne reach a milestone in Space Launch System (SLS) core stage development. A human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024 is achievable if the goal can transcend politics, according to a noted scientist. NASA’s archived Apollo lunar samples are getting a new assessment with the latest technologies. “Hidden Figures” receive Congressional Gold Medals. 

Human Space Exploration

All four engines are attached to the SLS core stage for Artemis I mission
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing
NASA (11/8): In a milestone for NASA’s first Space Launch System (SLS) test flight, the core stage of the towering rocket’s Boeing core stage has been equipped with its fourth and final RS-25 main engine provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne. After more ground testing, the Artemis 1 test flight will send an uncrewed Orion capsule launched by the SLS around the Moon and back to Earth for an ocean splashdown and recovery.

The 2020 Mars rover: A stepping stone to humans on Mars
The Hill (11/2): NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, slated for launch in July and a drama filled  landing at Jezero Crater on the red planet in February 2021, is ripe for public engagement, write Explore Mars Inc., CEO Chris Carberry and vice president Rick Zucker. The mission will collect and cache samples of the Martian surface for a follow on mission to return the samples to Earth for studies that could reveal evidence of past or current life. It will deploy a Mars helicopter experiment and test a technology for extracting oxygen from the Martian atmosphere as well.

Astronaut preparing for ISS mission with reduced crew
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
SpaceNews.com (11/8): Currently, veteran NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is the last astronaut slated to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Soyuz rocket. The launch is planned for April with cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Andrei Babkin. If NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners, Boeing and SpaceX, have not launched crewed test flights to the Station, Cassidy, Tikonov and Babkin could be the Station’s only staff through October 2020. Normally, the station is staffed by six to seven multinational astronauts. The reduced staffing would mean a decline in the amount of science aboard the Station. In an emergency involving the Station’s U.S. segment, Tikonov is trained to join Cassidy for a spacewalk to make repairs.

Russian scientists propose creation of separate ISS module for sports, medicine
Sputnik News of Russia (11/10): The Russia Academy of Science and its Institute of Biomedical Problems are urging that Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, establish a separate module on the International Space Station (ISS) for exercise and medical research. The specialized module is all the more urgent given the possibility that joint Station activities come to a halt in 2024 and that Russia may have to separate its newest contributions to the Space Station into a separate orbital lab.

Space Science

NASA just opened an untouched Moon rock sample
CNN (11/7): Last week, curators of the lunar materials returned to Earth during the Apollo missions opened a preserved sample to be studied using the latest in science technology. Another, also from the final Apollo mission, Apollo 17, will be opened and provided to scientists early next year. NASA is also introducing the study experience to a new generation of scientists to help prepare them for Artemis, the return of human explorers to the surface of the Moon in 2024. They will be gathering lunar samples as well.

How to watch Mercury travel across the face of the Sun on Monday
The Verge (11/11): The planet Mercury is making a rare pass between the Earth and the face of the sun on Monday. The 5 1/2 hour event begins at 7:35 a.m., EST. Slooh is live streaming and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory will be tracking the passage and uploading images.

Op Eds

What figure did you have in mind?
WayneHale (11/8): Whenever I did a press conference around a Space Shuttle event, there would always be one super hard question that made me stumble over the answer.  Technical subjects I had down cold, the hard ones were always about the cost. Wayne Hale discusses costs associated with shuttle launches.

NASA’s 2024 Moonshot hinges on transcending politics, says Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Forbes.com (11/10): Noted astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, author of a new book, sizes up NASA’s chances of returning to the Moon with human explorers in 2024 and a range of other exploration topics. The lunar return is very much achievable if NASA is viewed as rising above politics, according to Tyson.

The 2020 Mars rover: A stepping stone to humans on Mars
The Hill (11/2): NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, slated for launch in July and a drama filled landing at Jezero Crater on the red planet in February 2021, is ripe for public engagement, write Explore Mars Inc., CEO Chris Carberry and vice president Rick Zucker. The mission will collect and cache samples of the Martian surface for a follow on mission to return the samples to Earth for studies that could reveal evidence of past or current life. It will deploy a Mars helicopter experiment and test a technology for extracting oxygen from the Martian atmosphere as well.

Other News

”Hidden Figures” commemorative act signed into law
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/8): Legislation signed into law by President Trump on Friday recognizes the contributions made by women to the success of the Apollo lunar explorations of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Congressional Gold Medals will go to four of the “Hidden Figure” women, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and, posthumously, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson. A group medal will be awarded as well recognizing all women who served as human computers, mathematicians and engineers at NASA and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), from the 1930’s to the 1970’s.

Defense intelligence chief paints bleak picture of the space battlefield
SpaceNews.com (11/7) U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency director Army Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley warned of imminent conflict in space involving ant-satellite weapon systems developed by Russia and China during a November 7 keynote before the CyberSat 2019 conference. Potential threats include surface-to-air missiles, lasers, electronic jammers, co-orbital maneuvering satellites and malware.

The FAA’s challenge to accommodate the commercial spaceflight boom
Politico (11/8): Advances in air and space transportation are bringing new economic benefits to the U.S. as well as more mobility. Soon, we may see more unmanned aerial vehicle and even air taxi activity. With more going on in the airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) faces a challenge in managing the growth in a finite airspace.

Why astronomers worry about the brightness of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite megaconstellation
Space.com (11.10): SpaceX is planning to launch the second installment of its Starlink megaconstellation on November 11, and astronomers are waiting to see — well, precisely what they will see. When the company launched its first set of Starlink internet satellites in May, those with their eyes attuned to the night sky immediately realized that the objects were incredibly bright. Professional astronomers worried the satellites would interfere with scientific observations and amateur appreciation of the stars.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of November 10-16, 2019
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/10): On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to markup a one year NASA authorization bill at 10 am., EST. The U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee will meet at 2 p.m. for a second hearing on Moon/Mars exploration with retired Apollo astronaut Tom Stafford and Tom Young, a NASA and aerospace industry veteran often called upon to lead independent review of agency initiatives. NASA briefs Tuesday on an upcoming series of spacewalks to overhaul the thermal control system of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a cosmic ray observatory aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The first of the excursions is planned for early Friday.

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