July 29th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… House deliberations over NASA’s 2021 budget continue this week. NASA’s Perseverance Mars 2020 rover mission set to liftoff Thursday. NASA joins with European and Japanese space agencies to select a spring 2021 commercial crew mission to the International Space Station (ISS). 

Space Policy

Rules Committee nixes $2.6 billion plus up for NASA, other amendments advance (7/28): The U.S. House Rules Committee decided Tuesday not to allow the full House to consider an amendment to the House Appropriations Committee’s measure approving $22.6 billion for NASA during the 2021 fiscal year, which begins October 1. That is the same as for 2020 but $2.6 billion less than the White House requested in order to develop a human lunar landing system to achieve a return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024. A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers proposed amending the committee measure by adding $2.6 billion. The full House will consider the Rules Committee’s decision Wednesday. Debate by the full House on a 2021 minibus appropriations bill that includes funding for NASA and a lineup of other federal agencies for 2021 is planned for Thursday. The Senate has yet to act.

Human Space Exploration

First SLS LVSA ready for Artemis 1, second in production (7/28): More hardware components, the interstage connector, for the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) on the Artemis 1 test flight is one its way to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Liftoff is planned for late 2021. Artemis 1 will send the uncrewed Orion capsule on a multi week mission around the Moon and back to Earth for an ocean splashdown and recovery. Artemis 2 will repeat the test with astronauts aboard. Artemis 3 is to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024

NASA Selects Barrios Technology to lead Human Space Flight contract
Coalition Member in the News – Barrios Technology
Barrios (7/27): NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) has awarded the Human Space Flight Technical Integration Contract (HSFTIC) to Barrios Technology Ltd. of Houston, signaling a continued partnership between the agency and the aerospace technology company. The cost-plus-award-fee, incentive-fee contract, starting October 1, has a potential value of $364 million. “We are thrilled to build on our 4-decade legacy of supporting NASA’s Human Spaceflight Programs through the award of HSFTIC. This award is a reflection of the great work of all our employees and teammates. It allows us to continue to support NASA’s ISS Program as well as grow our support to the Artemis Program to explore beyond low earth orbit, said Sandy Johnson, Barrios Technology CEO”.

NASA’s Perseverance rover will carry first spacesuit materials to Mars
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (7/28): Among those eager for Thursday’s scheduled launch of NASA’s Perseverance Mars 2020 rover, is Amy Ross, an advanced space suit designer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), home to the nation’s astronaut core. The rover’s SHERLOC science instrument is carrying five small pieces of future space suit material that will be exposed to the Martian atmosphere and radiation. Ross explains, “do we need to develop new materials, or will these hang in there?”

SpaceX Crew Dragon becomes family affair for Houston astronauts Bob Behnken and Megan McArthur
Houston Chronicle (7/28): The European and Japanese space agencies joined with NASA on Tuesday in naming a second four astronaut crew that will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Crew-2, the second operational launch of the SpaceX Dragon capsule. Those named include NASA astronauts Megan McArthur, wife of NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, and Shane Kimbrough, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Their six month mission could launch as soon as next spring. Behnken and fellow NASA astronaut Doug Hurley launched to the Space Station on May 30 as test pilots aboard the SpaceX Demo-2 mission. They are to return to Earth Sunday afternoon, splashing down off the Florida peninsula.

Space Science

NASA’s Perseverance rover signals new era in Mars exploration
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (7/28): Set to liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket on Thursday between 7:50 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. EDT, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover will mark the first time the agency has dedicated a mission to the search for life, past in this case, or present on another planet, says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. Once it lands on Mars in February 2021 at Jezero Crater, Perseverance will assess the soil and rock for evidence of past biological activity and other characteristics and collect and cache samples for eventual return to Earth.

‘Excited to be here!’ Students who named NASA rover and helicopter arrive at KSC to view launch
Florida Today (7/28): Student winners of NASA sponsored contests to name the Perseverance Mars 2020 rover and Ingenuity, the small helicopter that will launch to Mars with the rover, have arrived at the mission’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch site in Florida to observe the liftoff. Alex Mather, winner of the Perseverance naming competition, is a 13-year-old 7th grader from Burke, Virginia, Vaneeza Rupani, winner of the Ingenuity competition, is a 17-year-old high school junior from Northport, Alabama.

NASA to fly a football stadium-sized high-altitude balloon to study light from newborn stars
Tech Crunch (7/24): NASA’s planned Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths, or ASTHROS, mission will loft a large observatory to high altitude under a mega balloon operating from Antarctica in December 2023. ASTHROS was developed to study newly formed stars.

Other News

Virgin Galactic unveils sleek interior of SpaceShipTwo spaceliner (photos, video) (7/28): Virgin Galactic on Tuesday unveiled the interior of the SpaceShipTwo suborbital passenger launch vehicle currently wrapping up test flights expected to lead to launches with tourists from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The Earth toned interior balances comfort with safety for sleek seating for six passengers, a dozen windows and video displays.

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