Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 18th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Preparations for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) continue to proceed toward an October 2021 launch despite challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Two cosmonauts will conduct a spacewalk outside of the International Space Station today at 9:30 a.m. EST.


Human Space Exploration

AIAA ASCEND: Experts urge Biden administration to help commercialize LEO
Coalition Member in the News – Nanoracks and Coalition president and CEO Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar
Aerospace America (11/17): Participants in a panel discussion at the ASCEND conference on Monday urged the incoming presidential administration to help foster the commercialization of low Earth orbit (LEO). The panelists agree that NASA should not build another space station, but rather act as an anchor tenant for future privately owned stations.

Russian spacewalk will prepare Space Station for new module
CNN (11/18): Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will venture outside the International Space Station (ISS) today to prepare the Russian segment for a new module. The spacewalk begins at 9:30 a.m. EST and will stream on NASA’s website.

NASA’s giant SLS rocket: A guide
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
BBC News (11/13): NASA has been developing the Space Launch System (SLS) mega-rocket to launch humans to the Moon, and eventually Mars. The rocket will launch astronauts aboard NASA’s Orion next-generation crew vehicle after two test flights, the first one taking place next year.


Space Science

James Webb on track for October 2021 launch; final testing underway
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, RUAG (11/17): A panel of representatives from NASA, Northrop Grumman, and the scientific community involved in the development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) expressed confidence Tuesday that the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will be ready to launch in October 2021. Webb will study the evolution of the universe’s earliest stars and galaxies. It will also be used to study the atmospheres of Earth-like, extrasolar planets for signs of biomarkers. This year’s work on JWST has been marked by workplace restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

China rolls out Long March 5 rocket to launch Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission (11/17): China plans to launch a Long March 5 rocket on a lunar sample return mission early next week. The mission is headed for a geologically young volcanic formation on the Moon’s near side known as Oceanus Procellarum. Fast-paced, the mission is slated to conclude with a return of samples to Earth in mid-December.

Potential signs of life on Venus are fading as astronomers downgrade their original claims
Science (11/17): Researchers are downgrading claims from earlier this year of phosphine gas concentrations in the high-altitude cloud layers of Venus, a sign of possible microbial activity. The altered finding from researchers followed a reanalysis of the data gathered from two Earth-based telescopes. The update was discussed Tuesday by NASA’s Venus Exploration Analysis Group.


Other News

Horn eyes space role in Biden administration (11/18): After losing her bid for re-election as a Democrat, Oklahoma congresswoman Kendra Horn, chair of the U.S. House Space Subcommittee, has expressed interest in a position within the Biden administration dealing with space, possibly at NASA. “It would provide some good insight and help continue the momentum that’s been building on Moon to Mars,” said Horn in an interview, regarding a possible role at the agency.

Study: As space industry offers more services, government missing out on opportunities (11/16): In a study intended for decision makers within the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. intelligence agencies, the Aerospace Corp. notes that the U.S. commercial space industry has become increasingly better equipped at providing services traditionally offered by government-managed programs. The study looked at three types of satellite-based commercial services that are widely available and growing: remote sensing, space situational awareness, and communications.

Memorial spaceflight: Cremated remains flying to the Moon on private lander in 2021
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic, United Launch Alliance (1/17): Astrobotic, one of 14 companies certified by NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, is preparing to launch symbolic portions of cremated remains of Arthur C. Clarke, author of the Space Odyssey book series. The remains, prepared by Houston-based Celestic, Inc., are just one of the payloads Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander will transport to the Moon’s Lacus Mortis region. Peregrine is scheduled to launch next year atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket.

Human error blamed for Vega launch failure (11/17): A Vega rocket launched Monday from French Guiana failed in flight due to improperly installed control system cabling on the second stage, according to Arianespace. A pair of French and Spanish Earth science satellites were lost as the upper stage tumbled out of control.

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