Today’s Deep Space Extra, Wednesday, September 9, 2015

September 9th, 2015

Today’s Deep Space Extra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. U.S. presidential candidates avoid talk on space, though Mars is within reach. NASA looks for chance to develop powerful Space Launch System exploration upper stage for 2021 piloted Orion test flight around the moon. International Space Station astronauts eager for a viewing of The Martian. Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders explains origin of famous “Earthrise” photo. China looks to a lunar first: a spacecraft landing on the moon’s far side. NASA considers a lander for an ambitious robotic mission to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa. Venus now an early riser. Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen experiments with control of an Earthly robot from the International Space Station. Aerojet Rocketdyne makes offer to acquire United Launch Alliance, according to Reuters report.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Why there’s no “space candidate”
The Space Review (9/8): U.S. presidential candidates typically do not campaign on their plans for space exploration. So far, 2016 is no different. “…most have said nothing about space, and those that have mentioned space have said so little that any policy projections are, at best, ill-advised,” writes Space Review editor Jeff Foust. Past campaigning indicates a stand on space is not helpful.

Mars, national infrastructure, and dispelling myths
The Hill (9/8): A human mission to Mars offers an opportunity for the next U.S. president, writes Chris Carberry and Blake Ortner, CEO and director of Washington operations, for Explore Mars. The goal is achievable and the cost of the venture is not as great as the candidates believe, they write.

Decision looms on when to introduce new SLS upper stage (9/8): NASA would like to equip the Space Launch System rocket with the powerful Exploration Upper Stage for a key 2021 test flight that would send U.S. astronauts around the moon and back to Earth — if Congress agrees to an increase in the agency’s 2016 budget request for the project. The test flight, Exploration Mission-2, is to follow the first SLS test flight, an unpiloted trip around the moon and back for an Orion capsule by late 2018.

Astronauts compare time on Space Station to trips to Mars, both real and fictional (9/8): Astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly, both living and working aboard the International Space Station, said Tuesday they are eagerly awaiting an opportunity to watch The Martian, a new feature film based on the bestselling book of the same name written by Andy Weir. The film starring actor Matt Damon opens in theaters Oct. 2. Kelly, the new commander of the International Space Station, is nearing the midway point of a near yearlong stay on the space station, a marathon mission to aide scientists studying the physical and mental effects of long duration space travel.

Apollo astronaut shares story of NASA’s earthrise photo
Spaceflight Insider (9/9): NASA astronaut Bill Anders, the Apollo 8 mission lunar module pilot, snapped the famous photo during mankind’s first voyage to the moon in December 1968.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

China aims to land Chang’e-4 probe on far side of moon
Xinhuanet, of China (9/8): China intends to be the first nation to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon’s far side, with a planning date prior to 2020.

NASA’s Europa mission may land on ocean-harboring moon (9/8): At NASA, discussions of a planetary science mission to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa are underway. Planners are gauging whether the mission could include a lander. Europa may have an environment favorable for biological activity.

What’s that strange bright dot in the morning sky? (9/8); Bright Venus sparkles on the eastern horizon of the pre-dawn sky. Jupiter will soon join Venus in the same space. Venus and Jupiter will “star” in the morning sky together through October.

Low Earth Orbit

Astronaut on ISS controls a ‘feeling’ robot on Earth
AFP via (9/8): European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen controls a robot rover in a laboratory in The Netherlands while in orbit aboard the International Space Station. The recent test could lay groundwork for the control of robots on Mars from a spacecraft in orbit around the red planet.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Aerojet makes $2 billion offer for Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture
Reuters (9/8): Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings has offered $2 billion to acquire United Launch Alliance, the Boeing, Lockheed Martin joint venture responsible for launching of Delta 4 and Atlas 5 launch vehicles for U.S. national security payloads. ULA was formed in 2005.

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