Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 22nd, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Nauka module takes flight. NASA administrator says the agency is looking intensively at moons where life could exist. The James Webb Space Telescope hits more milestones ahead of launch.


Human Space Exploration

Key parts of NASA’s Space Launch System built, tested in Mississippi
Coalition Member in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne
WAPT-TV of Jackson, Mississippi (7/19): All of the space shuttle’s main engines were tested at Stennis, through the 34 years of the program. Now, the same RS-25 engines, with all their history, and added technology, will power the first four Artemis missions, with more than two million pounds of thrust. The next generation of RS-25 engines will be built in Mississippi and created with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques, including 3-D printing.

Russia’s Nauka module finally takes flight (7/22): Russia’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module, a major addition to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), launched Wednesday at 10:58 a.m. EDT, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The module, which is also equipped with a European robotic arm, is set to dock with the ISS on July 29 and take the place of Russia’s aging Pirs docking module and airlock. Pirs will undock from the ISS on Friday in the grasp of a Russian Progress cargo vessel for a destructive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

FAA revises criteria for commercial astronaut wings (7/21): The FAA has changed the criteria for qualifying for award of astronaut wings during spaceflight with an update from the 2004 definition. Under the changes made Tuesday, the flight must reach an altitude of at least 50 miles, or 80 kilometers. The flight must be FAA licensed, and those eligible for wing status must demonstrate activities during their flight essential to public safety or that contribute to human public space flight safety among the other criteria. In other words, to qualify they must be more than passengers aboard autonomous spacecraft. However, the FAA may award “honorary” astronaut wings to those who would not otherwise meet the criteria.


Space Science

NASA’s Perseverance rover to drill first samples of Martian rock (7/21): NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, which landed at Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, is preparing to collect the first of more than 40 planned samples of rock and soil that will be eventually cached on the surface of the planet. The rock drill to obtain the first sample from the floor of the crater, a former lakebed, is scheduled for early August. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning a Mars Sample Return mission that will bring the cached samples back to Earth in the early 2030s so that scientists can examine them with the latest technologies for evidence of past microbial activity on Mars.

Bill Nelson says NASA is looking “very, very aggressively” at moons where life might exist
Washington Post LIVE (7/21): Appearing as part of a Washington Post virtual presentation, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson explains how the agency is looking for evidence of life beyond Earth. “There are moons of other planets where we think there are oceans. If there are oceans, there is very likely to be life. So, we are looking at that very very aggressively,” said Nelson. The administrator mentioned the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as a tool for learning more about the universe and its early days.

NASA Webb Telescope completes 3 testing milestones
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (7/22): The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has completed three more milestone as it prepares to launch later this year aboard and Ariane 5 rocket. The milestones consist of completing deployable tower assembly testing, removing the observatory’s “lens cap,” and stowing the telescope’s sunshield pallets.

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