Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 18th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Space robots will help prepare Mars for first human explorers.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Meet Valkyrie, NASA’s space robot

Sky & Telescope (5/17): Standing six foot two, Valkyrie is a humanoid robot developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center that could be part of missions launched to Mars ahead of the first human explorers and commanded to help assemble sheltering. Valkyrie is among 20 competitors headed for the Space Robot Challenge in June.

Cruz to hold hearing on updating the Outer Space Treaty 

Space News (5/17): During a Washington forum earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, chair of the Senate Space Subcommittee, announced plans for a May 23 hearing in which experts will address possible changes to the half century old Outer Space Treaty,  which governs the staking of claim to space destinations and rights to resources. The treaty is a factor in the commercial development of space.

Russian rocket chief throws some shade on Elon Musk’s moon plan (5/17): The general director of Russia’s RSC Energia cast doubts Wednesday on plans by SpaceX to commercially launch two space tourists around the moon aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket next year. In a wide ranging interview with Russia’s TASS news agency, Vladimir Solntsev said his country intends to resume launching space tourists to the International Space Station in 2019.

New super-heavy space rocket to be less costly to make than Energia to recreate

TASS of Russia (5/17): Russia’s Energiya Corp proposes a cost cutting initiative to develop a heavy lift rocket that relies on a three stage architecture using liquid oxygen/hydrogen propulsion, rather than turning back to a recreation of the Soviet era Energia rocket, according to the space rocket corporation. One destination would be lunar orbit.


Space Science

Dawn gets right in between the sun and Ceres and takes this video

Universe Today (5/17): NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting the large asteroid Ceres since March 2015. Recently positioned between the rugged surface of Ceres and the sun, Dawn has provided images of the asteroid’s mysterious bright spots from a new perspective. The bright markings appear to be indications of subsurface ice and possibly a subsurface ocean.

NASA asks scientific community to think on possible Europa lander instruments (5/18): NASA is asking scientists to consider what would be the best instruments to include on a mission to land on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa. On Wednesday, NASA informed the science community to prepare for a planned competition to select science instruments for a potential Europa lander. While a Europa lander mission is not yet approved by NASA, the agency’s Planetary Science Division has funding in Fiscal Year 2017 to conduct the announcement of opportunity process.
Low Earth Orbit

Top Air Force officials: space now is a warfighting domain (5/17): Space must be envisioned as a war fighting domain just like the Earth’s sea, land and air, recently sworn in U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and other top military officials testified before the U.S. Senate’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee. Freedom to operate in space is no longer a guarantee, according to the officials.


Other News

Cutting NASA’s education funding will hurt workforce, senators argue in open letter

The Verge (5/17): In an open letter, 32 U.S. senators urge appropriators not to close NASA’s $115 million a year office of education, part of President Trump’s proposed topline 2018 budget for the space agency. The space agency’s educational initiatives contribute significantly to STEM education, according to those who signed the letter.

Honeywell and NASA fuse hip-hop and physics to inspire middle school students

NASA (5/10): Coalition Member in the News

Honeywell and NASA are bringing FMA Live! Forces in Motion, an award-winning hip-hop educational experience, to middle school students along the east coast this spring. Honeywell and NASA created FMA Live! in 2004 to inspire middle school students to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts and careers. Since then, FMA Live! has traveled nearly 112,000 miles to more than 1,200 schools and performed for 480,000 students in 48 contiguous U.S. states, as well as in Mexico and Canada.



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