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Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 7th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel raised Commercial Crew Program software verification concerns during a meeting Thursday. NASA’s Christina Koch was thumbs up on Thursday after her return to Earth with European and Russian colleagues, following her 328 day mission, the longest ever flown by a woman. 

Human Space Exploration

NASA safety panel calls for reviews after second Starliner software problem
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Spacenews.com (2/6): During a quarterly meeting on Thursday, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Review Panel disclosed the discovery of a second potentially significant software issue during the December uncrewed test flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS). A timing issue surfaced quickly after liftoff on December 20 that prevented the Starliner from raising its altitude in order to reach the orbiting science lab and dock. During the meeting, panel members discussed a second software concern that was discovered by ground personnel later in the abbreviated two day test flight that might have led to erroneous thruster firings prior to deorbit. The safety panel called for more rigor from Boeing and NASA in its pre-flight software verification efforts. The Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon are in the final stages of efforts to achieve certification by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to begin transporting astronauts to and from the Space Station.
[Editor’s Note: NASA and Boeing will host a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EST Friday, February 7, to discuss the status of the joint independent review team investigation into the primary issues detected during the company’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test in December as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at https://www.nasa.gov/live]

Koch back on Earth after record setting 328-day spaceflight
Spacepolicyonline.com (2/6): Record setting NASA astronaut Christina Koch was thumbs up Thursday after returning to Earth safely following a 328 day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), the longest trip to space by a woman. Koch landed aboard the Soyuz MS-13 with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. Each received medical evaluations in Kazakhstan before beginning their return to their native countries.

Record-breaking spacewalker returns from orbit
European Space Agency (2/6): Veteran astronaut Luca Parmitano was among three International Space Station (ISS) astronauts returning safely to Earth early Thursday in Kazakhstan aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft. Over a 201 day flight, he became the third European and first Italian to command the Space Station. His four spacewalks to upgrade the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) pushed his accumulated spacewalk hours to just over 33, the most for a European. His 367 days in space accumulated over two missions is also the most among European astronauts.

Space Science

Industry puzzled by NASA withdrawal of CLPS task order
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic
SpaceNews.com (2/6): Last week, NASA withdrew a task order for a Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) lander mission to the Moon, leaving many of the commercial companies involved in the CLPS initiative puzzled. The task order represents an opportunity for companies selected by NASA for the CLPS program to submit proposals. The order was withdrawn a week after it was issued. The program was initiated to establish a commercial means of launching science experiments and technology payloads to the Moon as part of NASA’s Artemis initiative to achieve an accelerated return to the Moon with human explorers in 2024, establish a sustainable human presence and to prepare for future human missions to Mars.

Rocks, rockets and robots: The plan to bring Mars down to Earth
Scientific American (2/6): Coordinated by NASA and ESA, an ambitious effort to retrieve samples from the Red Planet faces major obstacles.

Rare monster galaxy grew rapidly 12 billion years ago then suddenly died
Space.com (2/6): Using an observatory in Hawaii, astronomers at the University of California, Riverside, have discovered a large galaxy that formed quickly in the early universe and then stalled. The star system XMM-2599 formed to host 300 billion stars, many within the first one billion years of the universe. Why its rapid growth soon stalled on cosmic timescales is unclear.

Other News

SpaceX has requested permission to fly Starship as early as March
Universe Today (2/6): According to filings with the FAA, SpaceX is preparing for a possible mid-March test flight of its Starship prototype rocket from company facilities in south Texas. The flight plan would take the prototype to an altitude of 20 kilometers, or 12.6 miles, and a landing.

OneWeb launches 34 internet satellites into orbit to boost broadband megaconstellation
Space.com (1/6): A Soyuz rocket launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with 34 small OneWebb broadband satellites.

Does the U.S. have too many spaceports, or too few?
TechCrunch (2/4): The question was a topic at the recent 23rd annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference. With just four commercial spaceports currently licensed for vertical launches, the total may not be enough to serve a growing space economy, according to Alaska Aerospace President and CEO Mark Lester, a conference participant.

SpaceX has requested permission to fly Starship as early as March
Universe Today (2/6): According to filings with the FAA, SpaceX is preparing for a possible mid-March test flight of its Starship prototype rocket from company facilities in south Texas. The flight plan would take the prototype to an altitude of 20 kilometers, or 12.6 miles, and a landing.

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