Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 13th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Bill increasing NASA’s budget advances in the House. Gateway elements make progress. KSC to host launch viewing for Starliner’s OFT-2.


Human Space Exploration

House appropriations bill supports increase to NASA’s budget (7/12): The U.S. House Appropriations’ Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee during a markup session on Monday approved $25.04 billion in appropriations for NASA in FY2022, approximately 1% more than the Biden administration’s request of $24.8 billion, and 7.6% percent more than the $23.3 billion appropriated for 2021. The biggest change is in NASA’s exploration account, which would get $7.28 billion, nearly $400 million above the request, with much of the proposed rise intended for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Exploration Ground Systems. “Congress must ensure the future of the SLS includes a cargo variant, which, in fact, has long been part of the NASA plan,” said U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), the subcommittee’s ranking member, during the markup. Aderholt mentioned the nuclear thermal propulsion funding in his comments at the markup and said he was disappointed that the bill does not require the funding to support a flight demonstration by 2024. The bill is so far silent on the lunar Human Landing System (HLS). “This bill fails to adequately address recent unwise NASA decisions that have jeopardized the HLS,” said Aderholt. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), chairman of the subcommittee, said that “this subcommittee’s commitment to American leadership in space science, space exploration and aeronautics research continues in this year’s bill.” The measure now advances to the full House Appropriations Committee, which has scheduled a markup for Thursday.

Maxar’s lunar Gateway PPE passes first design review
Coalition Member in the News – Maxar
Executive Gov (7/13): Maxar announced Monday that the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) it is developing for NASA’s Gateway has passed its first Preliminary Design Review (PDR) and remains on track for launch in 2024. “Clearing this development milestone for PPE is a significant accomplishment,” said Chris Johnson, Maxar’s SVP of Space Program Delivery. The next review, which is set to occur during the Fall, will verify that the PPE design meets mission requirements and is cleared for final design review and fabrication. 

NASA, Northrop Grumman designing new BOLE SRB for SLS Block 2 vehicle
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman (7/12): NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) program and booster element prime contractor Northrop Grumman are developing an upgrade to the current Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs). The SLS Booster Obsolescence and Life Extension (BOLE) program is in the design phase prior to firing its first ground-test development motor in 2024, which will be followed by a preliminary design review for the boosters that will inaugurate the SLS Block 2 vehicle. The new solid rocket motor design retains the form and fit of the current motor, but incorporates modern production technology, composite cases, and a new solid propellant formula.

Kennedy Space Center to host launch viewing for ULA Atlas V Starliner Orbital Flight Test July 30
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance
Space Coast Daily (7/13): Special viewing packages will include the popular Feel the Fun (Atlantis North Lawn) and Feel the Heat (Apollo/Saturn V Center). “As we continue to reopen operations, we are excited to bring back some of our most sought-after launch viewing opportunities,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). “This is an exciting launch as we prepare for Boeing’s upcoming crewed launches.” Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.


Space Science

NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will carry words of Einstein, Carl Sagan and The Beatles into space
Cnet (7/13): NASA’s first mission to the Trojan asteroids will be carrying some inspirational words. The Lucy spacecraft is scheduled to launch in October 2021, and it was recently outfitted with a plaque that will act as a time capsule. The plaque includes quotes from The Beatles, Albert Einstein, poet Joy Harjo, author Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Luther King Jr., Brian May of Queen, Yoko Ono, Carl Sagan, Amanda Gorman, and others. Built by Lockheed Martin, the Lucy spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance rocket.

Move over, Mars: Why the moons of Jupiter and Saturn may be key to finding alien life (7/12): Enceladus and Europa, the ice-and-ocean-covered moons of Saturn and Jupiter, are rising in potential for hosting biological activity, according to scientists. It’s a prospect once limited to Mars and sometimes Venus. With regard to Saturn’s Enceladus, studies of water plumes ejected by the moon of Saturn and studied by the Cassini mission, a joint effort by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, found intriguing concentrations of methane and hydrogen. The findings point to possible microbial activity around hydrothermal vents on the moon’s sea floor.


Other News

Roscosmos proposes to build a nuclear power plant on Mars
Tech Beezer (7/12): The state-run news agency Sputnik is reporting that Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is proposing the establishment of a nuclear power station on Mars to support a Russian base.

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