Today’s DeepSpace Extra

September 13th, 2017

In Today’s Extra… The International Space Station resumed six-person operations with the arrival of three U.S. and Russian astronauts launched late Tuesday from Kazakhstan. Hurricane Irma appears to have spared NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station major damage.

Human Space Exploration

International Space Station crew size returns to 6 (9/13): Russia’s Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft launched and docked to the International Space Station late Tuesday, delivering NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Mark Vande Hei, as well as cosmonaut Alexander Misurskin. The docking returned the orbiting lab to six-person operations, four of the astronauts assigned to the station’s U.S. segment, two to the Russian segment. The newcomers replace NASA’s Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer and Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin, who returned to Earth on September 2. They join Expedition 53 commander Randy Bresnik, of NASA, Europe’s Paolo Nespoli and Russia’s Sergey Ryazansky.

Kennedy Space Center remains closed, but spared major damage

Associated Press via New York Times (9/12): NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, two of the nation’s most crucial space launch facilities, appear to have escaped major damage from Hurricane Irma. While power has been restored to both sites, water service is still out and Kennedy will remain closed to non-essential personnel.

Russia sees Vostochny Cosmodrome as deep space exploration hub

SpaceFlightInsider (9/12): Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, under construction in the country’s far east since 2011, will be the focus of future deep space mission launches, according to officials quoted by the TASS news agency. Vostochny marked its first launch on April 28, 2016. As it looks ahead, Russia’s space agency has Mars in its sights and plans to partner with other countries.


Space Science

Cassini headed for Saturn plunge after Titan ‘goodbye kiss’ (9/12): The NASA-led Cassini mission spacecraft carried out its final close flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on Monday, receiving the gravitational nudge needed to end its long mission as planned on Friday with a destructive plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini was launched in 1997 and maneuvered into orbit around Saturn in 2004.

Rings revealed: How Cassini’s Saturn odyssey exceeds expectations (9/12): Since 2004, the Cassini mission spacecraft has studied Saturn’s famous rings system, a collection of moons that include Enceladus and Titan, which may host habitable environments, as well as the clouds and changing seasons of the solar system’s second largest planet.

Skygazers prepare for OSIRIS-REx to swoop past Earth

Cosmos Magazine (9/13): Launched on September 8, 2016, NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is on a seven-year mission to collect and return samples from the asteroid Bennu. On September 23, the spacecraft is to pass close to the Earth for a gravity assist. Stargazers, especially in Australia, may catch an early morning glimpse. Bennu has a small chance of impacting the Earth in the future.



Other News

Orbital ATK begins assembly of commercial in-space satellite servicing system

Coalition Member in the News (9/11): Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle-1 is designed to robotically extend the service life of aging satellites. MEV-1 is being built for Intelsat S.A. and to enter service in orbit in early 2019. “Orbital ATK’s goal is to establish a fleet of in-orbit servicing vehicles that can provide repair, assembly, refueling and in-space transportation services,” according to the report.

Virgin Orbit still expects to fly twice a month in 2020 despite delayed test campaign

Space News (9/12):  Virgin Orbit, spun off from Virgin Galactic to specialize in small commercial satellite launches, plans to carry out 24 missions by 2020, despite a delay in the first until 2018. Dan Hart, the new company’s president, delivered the forecast this week in Paris at Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week.

China’s Tianzhou-1 cargo craft and Tiangong-2 space lab perform final orbital docking

GB Times, of Finland (9/12): In another step towards China’s planned assembly of an Earth orbiting space station, the Tianzhou-1 cargo capsule carried out its final automated testing docking with the currently uninhabited Tiangong-2 spacelab. The two spacecrafts had been separated for three months. A final refueling exercise is planned before the re-supply vessel is deorbited. Assembly of the future station may begin in 2019.

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