Today’s DeepSpace Extra

September 21st, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s home to the astronaut corps and Mission Control prepared for possible moon pivot. NASA completes welding of liquid oxygen tank for EM-1.

Human Space Exploration

NASA center director: If Trump pivots to the Moon, we’re “set up” to do it

Ars Technica (9/20): Should the moon become a bigger focus of future human space exploration, NASA’s Johnson Space Center is prepared to pivot, Ellen Ochoa, the former astronaut who serves as Johnson’s director, told a recent gathering at Rice University to celebrate the 55th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Moon speech. During the two terms of former president Barack Obama, NASA was told to strive for the human exploration of Mars, as soon as the 2030s.

NASA completes welding of liquid oxygen tank for first Space Launch System flight

Gasworld (9/20): At NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, workers have completed the complex welding for the liquid oxygen propellant tank for the first Space Launch System/Orion crew capsule test flight. Uncrewed, Exploration Mission-1 will launch the capsule around the moon on a course that will bring it back to Earth. The oxygen tank is one of five major components that will form the SLS’s Boeing core stage for the mission. The SLS and Orion are cornerstones of NASA’s plans to resume human deep space exploration.

Puerto Rican astronaut gets double dose of hurricanes

Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel (9/20): NASA astronaut Joe Acaba launched to the international Space Station on September 12, while friends and colleagues worked to save his Houston area home, which was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Wednesday he circled the Earth while a second major tropical storm, Maria, bashed his family’s Puerto Rican homeland. The former classroom teacher and U.S. Marine Corps reservist wished close family and relatives well in Maria’s aftermath.

NASA launches competition to help astronauts breathe on long-haul space flights (9/20): The $100,000 Earth and Space Air Prize initiated by NASA seeks a more compact air particulate monitor for astronauts assigned to future long duration’s missions. Aerosols, or small particles that jeopardize air quality, are a hazard to astronaut health. The contestant sign up period closes December 13 and design submissions are due by January 31, 2018.


Space Science

Wave to asteroid probe OSIRIS-REx on its flyby, and snap a photo for NASA (9/20): On Friday, the first NASA planetary science mission launched to gather and return a sample from the surface of an asteroid will fly by the Earth for a gravity assist. NASA is marking the event with a selfie call. The OSIRIS-REx mission was launched on September 8, 2016. Its course will reach the 1,650 foot wide asteroid Bennu in late 2018. It should return to Earth with fragments of Bennu in September 2023.

NASA prepares to retire GRACE Earth science satellites

Space News (9/20): The U.S./German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE satellite duo, is to make final Earth science observations in November, more than 15 years after their launch, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has announced. One of the Earth orbiting satellites has experienced fuel and battery issues. Upgraded replacements are expected to launch in early 2018.

Work on China’s mission to Mars ‘well underway’

AFP of France (9/20): China’s Mars planetary mission planned for a 2020 liftoff will include 13 science instruments, among them a half-dozen rovers, according to the endeavor’s chief architect, who spoke at the Beijing International Forum on Lunar and Deep-space Exploration.


New Study Says Primordial Asteroid Belt Was Empty

Universe Today (9/20): Scientists from the University of Bordeaux in France suggest the asteroid belt began empty and gradually filled with the planetary debris that orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter.


Other News

Australian expert expects first space mining transaction in 10 years

Xinhuanet of China (9/20): Humans could be mining space resources for profit within a decade, according to an Australian expert speaking at the third “Off Earth Mining Forum” in Sydney, Australia. A global legal environment that recognizes the rights of prospectors to resources they mine and advanced robotics are but two of the factors in advancing the off the Earth enterprise.

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