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Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 21st, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s strategy for returning to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024 will include commercial partners for the development of pressurized and unpressurized rovers for Artemis astronauts launched on Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion crew capsule missions. A SpaceX’s Starship prototype was damaged Wednesday during a ground test in South Texas.  

Human Space Exploration

NASA to seek ideas for an Artemis lunar rover
SpaceNews.com (11/20): Just as it has with lunar landers, NASA plans soon to ask the commercial space industry to respond to a proposal for pressurized and unpressurized lunar landers as part of its Artemis accelerated strategy to return to the surface of the Moon in 2024 with human explorers. Tom Cremins, NASA associate administrator for strategy and plans, outlined the intention at Wednesday’s opening of the two day SpaceCom conference and exposition in Houston on Wednesday.

Boeing’s first space-ready Starliner crew capsule heads to its launch pad Thursday
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Spaceflightnow.com (11/21): Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is to leave its NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) production facility for a launch pad at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, where it will be mated to the Atlas 5 for a planned December 17 launch on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The test flight is a significant milestone in the NASA Commercial Crew Program initiative to achieve certification for the regularly scheduled launch of astronauts to and from the space station.

SpaceX suffers Starship setback
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/22): SpaceX’s Starship Mx1 prototype experienced failure during a propellant load and tanking test at company facilities in South Texas. Earlier SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk had said the Mx1 would fly to an altitude of 20 kilometers in several weeks. However, after the incident, which was witnessed and reported by residents of south Texas on social media, Musk said the company will move on with development of an upgraded prototype, the Mx3, for future testing. SpaceX intends to mate a future version of Starship with a Super Heavy Falcon rocket for a range of possible missions, including the transportation of human explorers to the Moon and Mars.

Space Science

Chandrayaan-2: Finally, ISRO makes it official, Vikram made a hard-landing
Indian Express (11/21): India has formally acknowledged that its Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lunar lander plummeted to the surface of the Moon during an automated descent on September 6, U.S. time. Contact was lost with the lander, and a small rover on board, while the spacecraft was descending from a 30 kilometer altitude orbit following separation from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which continues to circle the Moon gathering scientific data. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has said it plans attempt to land at the Moon’s south pole with the Chandrayaan-3 in November 2020.

New map of Saturn’s moon Titan reveals a liquid-filled world
Space.com (11/20): A new map of Saturn’s frigid moon Titan suggests that an abundance of liquid hydrocarbons flow on the surface of the Mercury sized moon in the presence of organics, the building blocks of life. The data for the conclusion comes from the NASA led Cassini mission with the European and Canadian space agencies as partners. The findings were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Two of a space kind: Apollo 12 and Mars 2020
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (11/20): NASA’s Apollo 12 mission, the second mission to place humans on the surface of the Moon in November 1969, shares a similarity with the agency’s planned Mars 2020 rover mission to the Red Planet, which is schedule to launch in July 2020 and touchdown in February 2021. The Apollo 12 crew’s Pete Conrad and Alan Bean achieved a precision landing about 520 feet from the Surveyor robotic lander. Mars 2020 will launch with a terrain relative navigation sensor as it aims for a landing at Jezero Crater at a spot safety distant from boulders and other potential hazards.

How two gamma-ray bursts created record-breaking high-energy photons
Science News (11/20): A pair of distant stellar explosions have sent gamma rays with the highest energy protons ever detected toward the Earth. The bursts are associated with the explosive deaths of massive stars. The observations with Earth based telescopes were the focus of a study led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Germany.

Op Eds

Every company is a space company, some just don’t know it yet!
Space.com (11/20): Space operations and innovations are fueling impressive economic growth, writes James Causey, executive director of SpaceCom, the annual space commerce conference and exposition that meets in Houston, Texas, each fall. “A remarkable transformation has occurred in the past few years that many businesses and people are only marginally aware of — outer space has become an indispensable part of the value chains for many business sectors,” writes Causey. The growing and changing global space economy is currently valued at $350 billion and projected to reach $1 trillion in the coming years.

Other News

Mike Gold to shepherd NAC extraterrestrial resource principles in new job at NASA
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/17): The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) recently adopted a set of eight principles for the extraction and utilization of extraterrestrial resources. Developed by NAC’s Regulatory and Policy Committee (RPC), they are headed to the Administrator’s office where they will be received by a familiar face. Mike Gold, who chaired the RPC, is joining NASA as a special advisor to the Administrator tomorrow and hopes to shepherd the principles along to a wider audience both domestically and internationally.

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