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Today’s Deep Space Extra, Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th, 2015

 

Today’s Deep Space Extra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin displays an eagerness to rev up public enthusiasm for space with a new Mars book for children. Engineers begin welding pieces of the NASA/Lockheed Martin Orion capsule assigned to the first unpiloted, moon and back test flight of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. Omega reprises the early watch worn by NASA’s Apollo era astronauts. Construction begins on test version of important connection for SLS. NASA’s Dawn probe captures clearest images yet of the dwarf planet Ceres. Imagery from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft reveals complexity of Pluto’s surface. Japan joins with the U.N. to offer developing countries CubeSat launch opportunities. United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin announce an agreement Thursday to expand production of the BE-4 rocket engine for ULA’s new Vulcan launch vehicle and other customers. The U.S. Air Force assigns a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 to a 2017 U.S. national security mission. Sierra Nevada looks to nation’s airports for Dream Chaser landings. Europe launches Galileo navigation and tracking system satellites. SpaceX unveils interior views of the seven passenger Dragon V2 under development as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Buzz Aldrin: The American people “have lost their enthusiasm” for space exploration
Salon.com (9/10): A lack of enthusiasm for space among the populace translates to a lack of enthusiasm among policy makers, according to Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin appeared on The Nightly Show this week to discuss his new book, “Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet,” co-authored by Marianne Dyson for children to help reverse that trend.

Orion prepared for next mission
Spaceflight Insider (9/10): Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility start the welding of the NASA/Lockheed Martin Orion capsule assigned to the first test launch of the Space Launch System heavy lift rocket. The mission, which will send the unpiloted capsule around the moon and back to the Earth for an ocean splash down, is planned for late 2018.

Omega recreates its first watch in space
Forbes (9/10): The new Speedmaster Chronograph is the company’s second recreation of the “pre-Moonwatch” certified for use by NASA astronauts in 1965.

Construction begins on test version of important connection for SLS
Technology.org (9/10): Experts have started the welding process that will secure the first and second stages of NASA’s Space Launch System exploration rocket. The work at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center is focused on a test version of the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter. Once in orbit. the Space Launch System second stage will provide the propulsion to start U.S. astronauts toward deep space destinations.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

Dawn gets better look at bright spots on Ceres
Spaceflightnow.com (9/9): New images from NASA’s Dawn mission to the large asteroid Ceres reveals mysterious bright white surface deposits in new detail.

No surf, but maybe dunes in NASA’s latest Pluto photos
New York Times (9/10): New Horizons mission spacecraft has transmitted images of possible dune like formations on Pluto. They join ice mountains, smooth plains and polygonal structures.

New images of Pluto show a surface ‘every bit as complex as that of Mars’
Washington Post (9/10): Pluto and Mars, separated by a vast distances in the solar system, have something in common — a complex terrain that puzzles the experts. NASA’s New Horizons mission spacecraft, which sped past Pluto on July 14, recently started a yearlong transmission of recorded imagery and data back to Earth.

Low Earth Orbit

JAXA, U.N. offer Cubesat opportunities to developing nations from ISS
Spacepolicyonline.com (9/10): Japan’s Kibo Cube initiative provides an opportunity for developing countries to launch CubeSats from Japan’s Kibo science module aboard the International Space Station.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Lockheed-Boeing rocket venture expands partnership with Bezos’ space firm
Reuters (9/10): The plan announced Thursday would expand production of the Blue Origin BE-4 engine that United Launch Alliance plans to use in the first stage of its next generation Vulcan rocket. The BE-4 would replace Russian imports of the RD-180 currently used in the first stage of the ULA Atlas 5 rocket for the launching of national security payloads. The announcement came amid reports that rival rocket engine developer Aerojet Rocketdyne has made a $2 billion offer for ULA. Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing the AR-1, also a domestic alternative to the RD-180, for possible use by the Vulcan.

Air Force assigns new Delta 4 rocket launch
Spaceflightnow.com (9/10):  The U.S. Air Force assigns a national security mission payload to a October 2017 mission aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Louisville company aims Dream Chaser space vehicle at airports
Denver Post (9/10): Sierra Nevada’s Preferred Landing Site Program, announced Thursday, seeks the use of designated airports and spaceports for landings of the company’s reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft. The company has developed crewed and cargo versions of the winged lifting body for rocket launches into Earth orbit and landings that require the use of a 10,000 foot runway. The Preferred Landing Site Program is intended to help make commercial spaceflight more accessible, according to Mark Sirangelo, who leads the company.

Launch brings Galileo navigation system into double digits
Spaceflightnow.com (9/11): A Russian rocket placed two European Galileo global navigation and tracking satellites into Earth orbit early Friday. The Soyuz launch vehicle lifted off from French Guiana on Thursday at 10:08 p.m., EDT, climbing to nearly 15,000 miles for the deployments. They represent the ninth and tenth satellites in a constellation that is to eventually total 30 spacecraft.

SpaceX unveils crew Dragon capsule for first private astronaut flights
Popular Science (9/11): SpaceX announces a refined interior design for its Dragon v2, the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft in development along with Boeing’s Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Both spacecraft are to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station starting in 2017.

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