Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 16th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds NASA, advances to the full House. Lockheed Martin opens the STAR Center.  


Human Space Exploration

House appropriators add nod to 2024
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, BWX Technologies, Made in Space, Northrop Grumman (7/16): The House Appropriations Committee voted to advance the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds NASA, to the full House. The legislation allocated $25.04 billion for the agency. Members approved an amendment offered by Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) that requires $80 million of the $110 million included in the bill for nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) research at NASA go toward work on a flight demonstration. CJS subcommittee Ranking Member Robert Aderholt (R-AL) had complained during subcommittee markup on Monday that the language was omitted even though it had been in prior year bills. The committee also approved a manager’s amendment to make language changes. The amendment made a change in the Human Landing System (HLS) language present in the report accompanying the bill. While previously the report mandated NASA “to continue robust competition among potential providers for a future sustained HLS services capability” it now specifies a date, saying that Congress “urges NASA to bolster competition in lander development and production and improve the United States’ prospects for landing astronauts on the Moon in 2024.” Funding levels for HLS were kept at $1.345 billion.

Lockheed Martin opens STAR Center to expand production for NASA’s Orion spacecraft program
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (7/15): Lockheed Martin’s new Spacecraft Test, Assembly and Resource Center (STAR), located in Florida, opened on Thursday. For the Orion program, the STAR Center will provide assembly and test of aeroshell heat shield and backshell panels, including thermal protection system installation, crew module fabrication and testing, propulsion and environmental control and life support systems assembly and testing, and electrical ground support equipment production. Beyond Orion, the STAR Center could potentially support other spacecraft for future deep space exploration missions.


Space Science

NASA Perseverance rover investigates ‘garden pavers’ in Mars lakebed
Cnet (7/15): Though its primary objective is to collect and cache samples of soil and rock from Jezero Crater on Mars, materials that may hold evidence of past biological activity on the neighboring planet, NASA’s Perseverance rover has made an interim discovery, the presence of bedrock that resembles garden pavers. Perhaps 3 to 4 billion years in age, the flagstone could be further evidence that water once flowed and pooled on Mars. “Material like this, from the early days of this ancient lakebed, can help capture what that lake was like,” said NASA.

China’s Mars rover Zhurong just found its parachute and backshell (video) (7/15): Zhurong, China’s Mars rover, has transmitted imagery of the parachute and spacecraft backshell that facilitated a landing at Utopia Planitia on the Red Planet. When it took the color photo, Zhurong was about 100 feet (30 meters) from the back shell and roughly 1,150 feet (350 m) from its landing site, the officials added. Zhurong is studying the geology and topography of its surroundings and hunting for buried water ice, among other tasks, during a surface mission designed to last at least 90 Mars days.


Other News

Blue Origin reveals fourth crew member for Bezos spaceflight (7/15): Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student, is on the verge of becoming the youngest human to launch into space. He was announced by Blue Origin on Thursday as the third person to join Jeff Bezos for a July 20 suborbital launch aboard the New Shepard rocket from West Texas. Daemen will substitute for a still-anonymous winner of an auction who paid $28 million to join Bezos for the launch but was forced to pass up on the flight because of a schedule conflict. The 18-year-old will launch with Wally Funk, an 82-year-old female military aviator who is in line to become the oldest person to launch to space as well as Bezos’ brother Mark.

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