Today’s DeepSpace Extra

September 18th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… New space research sponsored by NASA and the nonprofit Center for the Advancement of Science in Space returned to Earth from the International Space Station early Sunday.  Apollo 11’s Columbia command module ready for two year national tour to help mark the historic spaceflight’s 50th anniversary.

Human Space Flight

SpaceX Dragon cargo craft splashes down in Pacific Ocean (9/17): NASA’s 12th SpaceX contracted Dragon resupply mission to the six person International Space Station departed the orbiting lab’s U.S. segment early Sunday and descended to Earth under parachute, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California. Recovery forces set sail for port in Long Beach, California where a science rich 3,800 pound cargo was to be removed to set up a timely distribution to scientists.

The Apollo 11 capsule is going on an American road trip, starting in October

USA Today (9/15): After a decade at the National Air and Space Museum, the Apollo 11 command module Columbia will go on the road for two years as part of Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.  The 50th anniversary of the mission that launched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon is less than two years away. Crew mate Mike Collins circled the moon as Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the surface. Columbia’s first stop is Space Center Houston in Texas, where it will go on display from October 14 to March 18, 2018.


Space Science

 Cassini is gone. Here are the next space missions to watch out for

New York Times (9/15): Missions to Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa rank high on NASA’s planetary science agenda. Mars Insight, planned for a 2018 liftoff, will study the Martian interior, and the Mars 2020 rover will gather multiple samples of the red planet for eventual return to Earth. The Europa Clipper would make multiple flybys of the ice and ocean covered Jovian moon.  Europa may host a habitable environment. A possible lander mission to Europa is under study as well.

Cassini mission ends with plunge into Saturn

Space News (9/15): As planned, the long-running NASA-led Cassini mission to Saturn came to an end early Friday. The spacecraft, launched 20 years earlier, broke apart in Saturn’s atmosphere.


Other News

KSC and Visitor Complex reopen in aftermath of Hurricane Irma; with launches delayed and view spots destroyed

Universe Today (9/17): Over the weekend, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station re-opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. As a consequence of the storm, upcoming launches of the Falcon 9 and Atlas V from the two Florida space complexes have been postponed until October.

China’s cargo spacecraft completes third in-orbit refueling

Xinhuanet (9/16): China’s Tianzhou-1 space freighter, launched April 20, carried out a third and final refueling exercise with the country’s crew tended Tiangong-2 space lab. The activities are part of China’s buildup to a permanently staffed space station.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of September 18-22 (9/17): The U.S. House and Senate see limited action in Washington this week. Planetary science and future lunar and deep space exploration conferences are planned this week in the Netherlands and Beijing.

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