Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 24th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee requests Artemis review.


Human Space Exploration

Nelson says Artemis plans pending decision on GAO protest (6/23): Yesterday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson appeared before the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to testify on NASA’s proposed $24.7 budget for 2022. Asked about a review of the Artemis program, Nelson said the agency is awaiting a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) ruling on protests of the Human Landing System (HLS) award before providing additional timeline and costs associated with plans to return humans to the Moon. The GAO should rule on the protests by August 4. Nelson said he is working out details for schedule and costs with Pam Melroy, recently sworn in as NASA’s deputy administrator, and Bob Cabana, the agency’s associate administrator. As in other hearings, Nelson again urged Congress to fund the HLS program with money from a proposed infrastructure bill. Nelson was asked about the decrease in Exploration funding compared to the prior administration and whether the cut would affect programs within Artemis, to which he responded that it won’t if Congress is generous in giving funds to NASA. The administrator was also asked whether space suit development efforts will remain at the Johnson Space Center (JSC). Nelson said the space suit program will stay at JSC.


Space Science

Hubble trouble: NASA can’t figure out what’s causing computer issues on the telescope
NPR (6/23): NASA experts continue to assess an apparent issue with the payload computer aboard the Hubble Space Telescope, which halted science activities on June 13. Hubble, now 31 years old, orbits the Earth at an altitude of nearly 400 miles, and has been out of the reach of astronauts to offer maintenance and upgrades since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired a decade ago.

Masten delays first lunar lander mission
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (6/23): Masten Space Systems’ Masten Mission 1 lander flight to the south pole region of the Moon is being rescheduled from December 2022 to November 2023 due to the coronavirus pandemic and related supply chain issues. One of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) partners, Masten was awarded a $75.9 million contract for the mission in April 2020 which will deliver a combination of NASA science and technology and commercial payloads to the Moon’s Haworth Crater.


Other News

More than 22,000 apply to join European Space Agency’s astronaut corps, a new record (6/23): A record of more than 22,000 people have applied for an opportunity to join the European Space Agency’s (ESA) astronaut corps, including a record number of women, 5,419. A six-stage selection process will continue into late 2022. Previously, ESA estimated it intended to recruit four to six new astronauts, plus 20 reserves, people qualified to leave their current jobs to join the corps as opportunities arise.

The full strawberry Moon, the last supermoon of 2021, rises tonight! Here’s what to expect (6/24): The first full Moon of summer 2021, also known as the Strawberry Moon, rises tonight (June 24), marking the last supermoon of the year. Tonight’s full Moon is also a supermoon, which occurs when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit, also known as perigee. In turn, the Moon will look slightly bigger and brighter since it’s closer to the Earth than usual. June’s Strawberry Moon is the second and last supermoon of the year. 

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