Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 15th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. House Appropriations Committee meets today for the markup of the FY2022 Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) bill, which includes NASA. Solar sail asteroid mission readies for launch on Artemis I.


Human Space Exploration

House appropriators want second HLS, but offer meager money
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (7/15): The House Appropriations Committee yesterday released its report on the Commerce, Justice, and Science bill, which includes NASA, explaining in more detail what it wants to give the agency for FY2022. In its report, the committee expressed concern about NASA’s decision to select only one contractor for the development of a Human Landing System (HLS) and added $150 million to the request for a total of $1.345 billion. The bill also adds $34.8 million above the President’s budget request for Mars Sample Return; adds $110 million for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion; and cuts Commercial LEO Development by $56 million. The House Appropriations Committee meets today at 10 a.m. EDT to mark up the bill.

NASA conducts fifth test at Stennis in RS-25 series for future Moon missions
WGNO-TV of New Orleans (7/14): The fifth in a seven-part series of tests to develop the RS-25 engines for future missions of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) was successfully conducted on Wednesday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.


Space Science

NASA prepares Near-Earth Asteroid Scout spacecraft for launch
Slash Gear (7/15): NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Scout, or NEA Scout, a small spacecraft roughly the size of a large shoebox, has been packaged into a dispenser and attached to the adapter ring that connects the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. NEA Scout is one of several secondary payloads that is hitching a ride to the Moon aboard Artemis I. “There have been several sail tests in Earth orbit, and we are now ready to show we can use this new type of spacecraft propulsion to go new places and perform important science,” said Les Johnson, principal technology investigator for the mission at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA is growing space chile peppers on the ISS – and astronauts will taste them
Cnet (7/14): There are officially chiles growing on the International Space Station. “The plan is for crew to eat some of the peppers and send the rest back to Earth for analysis, as long as all the data indicates they are safe for the crew to eat,” NASA said in a statement. The agency is looking at ways to supplement astronaut diets with fresh foods grown in space. But it’s not just nutrition that’s important for space dwellers. “We are discovering that growing plants and vegetables with colors and smells helps to improve astronauts’ well-being,” said the experiment’s principal investigator Matt Romeyn.

NASA may finally know what caused the Hubble Space Telescope’s major computer glitch (7/14): The Hubble Space Telescope has been out of action scientifically since June 13 due to an issue with its payload computer. After troubleshooting, the Hubble team has traced the difficulty to the Power Control Unit, which, like the payload computer, is part of the observatory’s Science Instrument Command and Data Handling (SI C&DH) unit. On Thursday, ground experts will command a switch to the backup SI C&DH element, which includes a backup Power Control Unit. If the transition is successful, the 31-year-old space observatory could be back to normal operations within a few days.


Other News

Blue Origin shares multimillion-dollar spaceship ticket proceeds with 19 charities (7/14): Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is set to launch July 20 as one of the first four to ride the company’s New Shepard rocket to suborbital space and back from West Texas. One of the four passengers is so far anonymous and claimed the seat through an auction that produced $28 million in proceeds. Of that, $19 million will go to 19 space-related charities through Bezos’ Club of the Future, an educational nonprofit foundation. Bezos also will donate $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution, including $70 million to support the ongoing renovation of the Air and Space Museum in the nation’s capital.

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