Today’s Deep Space ExtraIn Today’s Deep Space Extra…

September 16th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Artemis strategy remains a topic for discussion, and the House Space, Science and Technology subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will hold a hearing on SLS, Orion and Exploration Ground Systems on Wednesday. The fate of India’s Vikram moon lander could become clear this week. WFIRST will help uncover the universe’s fate. NASA wins two Emmy awards. 

Human Space Exploration

Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Hearing: Developing core capabilities for deep space exploration: An update on NASA’s SLS, Orion and Exploration Ground Systems (9/15): On Wednesday, September 18 at 10:00 am ET, there will be a hearing of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.  Check back here for updates from the hearing.

Getting back to the Moon requires speed and simplicity Op Ed
The Hill (9/13): Doug Cooke is a former NASA associate administrator. In an op-ed, he suggests NASA’s accelerated Artemis 2024 return to the lunar surface with human explorers could be streamlined by holding off on the minimal lunar orbiting Gateway and turning to the Space Launch System (SLS) Block 1B rocket with its more capable upper stage rather than the SLS Block 1 to deliver the Orion capsule with astronauts and a lander/ascent vehicle to lunar orbit.

Space Science

For NASA contractors, lunar landing failures by Israel and India hit close to home
Coalition Members in the News – Astrobotic Technologies, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance
Washington Post (9/15): In November 2018, NASA selected nine companies to provide launch services to the surface of the Moon with science payloads, under a maximum 10 year $2.6 billion agreement. The drama of India’s Chandrayaan-4 Vikram lander loss of contact serves as a reminder of how challenging the task will be.  Astrobotic Technologies, of Pittsburgh, is to launch and land the first of those NASA lunar missions in July 2021.

Chandrayaan-2: ISRO has just a week to relink with lander Vikram, hopes fade as situation looks ‘less probable’ (9/14): The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lunar lander moments from an anticipated touchdown at the Moon’s south pole on September 6, U.S. time. ISRO has remained optimistic about the spacecraft’s fate. But both the lander and the six wheeled Pragyan lander it carried on board were designed to operate for a single lunar day, which is two Earth weeks. About September 21, the start of a two week lunar night, the temperatures will plunge and become too cold for the lander or rover to operate. 

NASA lunar orbiter to image Chandrayaan 2 landing site next week (9/12): NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will be in the right place at the right time on Tuesday to image the target landing site for India’s Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost contact with the spacecraft on September 6, U.S. time, as the lander was about 2.1 kilometers above the Moon’s surface at the south pole. It’s unclear whether the lander touched down, perhaps on its side, or crashed.

NASA’s WFIRST will help uncover universe’s fate
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (9/13): NASA’s planned Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) could help to unravel the fate of an expanding universe with studies of dark energy, the largely mysterious force behind an accelerating expansion. WFIRST will have 100 times the field of view as the now 29-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, which helped to discover the acceleration associated with dark energy.

Other News

NASA wins two Emmy awards for interactive programming
The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced the award for NASA’s coverage of the Mars Insight mission and the agency’s first test of a spacecraft that will help bring crewed launches to the International Space Station (ISS) back to U.S. soil.

Kavandi, Morrow retirements mean more change at NASA (9/13): Janet Kavandi and George Morrow, director and acting director respectively of the NASA Glenn Research Center and Goddard Space Flight Center, have recently announced their retirements. That brings to at least half the number of field center directorships that have turned over under NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s watch. 

The U.S. Space Force must be independent but not insular Op Ed (9/13): In an op-ed Major General John Shaw, Deputy Commander of Air Force Space Command, notes that starting as small as it is the new Space Force must establish an independence from the other branches of the U.S. Military. Shaw adds that the Space Force must also have an unrelenting focus on integrating and delivering space capabilities for core national security activities in the face of emerging threats from foreign adversaries and new demands. 

Ohio Senators propose renaming NASA site for Neil Armstrong
Associated Press via New York Times (9/14): Last week, Ohio’s U.S. senators introduced legislation that would rename NASA’s Plumb Brook Station in Sandusky, Ohio in honor of the late Neil Armstrong, who commanded Apollo 11, the first mission to land on the Moon with astronauts. 

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of September 15-21, 2019 (9/15): The U.S. House and Senate are in session with two weeks left until the October 1 start of the 2020 fiscal year and still a lot of work left to have a federal budget in place. A budget continuing resolution appears more and more likely, which could have a financial impact on NASA’s efforts to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. The House Space Subcommittee hosts a Washington hearing Wednesday on the status of the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion crew capsule and Exploration Ground Systems.


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