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Today’s Deep Space Extra - Explore Deep Space
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Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 3rd, 2021

Please note Deep Space Extra will not run on Monday, September 6 in observance of Labor Day.  We will return on Tuesday, September 7. 

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Perseverance rover appears to have gathered its first Martian rock sample. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo has been grounded by the FAA.

Space Science

NASA’s Perseverance rover drills 1st Mars rock sample for an (eventual) return to Earth
Space.com (9/2): The second time seems to have been the charm for NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover. The robot has likely snagged its first-ever Red Planet sample, apparently socking away a drilled-out core of a rock dubbed “Rochette,” mission team members announced on September 2. They stressed, however, that more data is needed before the sampling run can be conclusively declared a success. The first attempt to core a sample from a rock on August 6 failed when the sample crumbled to a powder that could not be preserved.

James Webb Space Telescope completes testing, prepares for historic launch this Fall
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
America Space (9/2): The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a joint effort by NASA and the space agencies of Europe and Canada, has completed pre-launch testing at Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California, a major milestone that is to lead to a launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. The space observatory will make the trip to the launch site by ship in September. Launch is planned for no earlier than October 31. The JWST will study the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe and the atmospheres of exoplanets planets for evidence of biomarkers. 

Other News

FAA grounds SpaceShipTwo after problem on July flight
SpaceNews.com (9/2): Virgin Galactic must suspend efforts to launch passengers aboard the suborbital SpaceShipTwo Unity spacecraft until the FAA can complete an assessment of issues that arose during the July 11 air launch. In a September 2 statement, the FAA said it is overseeing a Virgin Galactic mishap investigation into the flight, which appeared to go as planned but in fact suffered a problem that caused it to stray from its restricted airspace. The statement came a day after the publication of an article by The New Yorker that revealed that the SpaceShipTwo pilots ignored an “entry glide cone warning” during the July 11 flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Russia to start deploying new orbital station in 5-6 years
TASS of Russia (9/2): Russia plans to begin the assembly of a new space station in five to six years, Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos announced at an educational event on Thursday. The project will start with a power and research module and reflect an open architecture in which components will be replaced as they age. (Editor’s note: TASS is a Russian government-owned news source).

Firefly’s Alpha rocket explodes on inaugural test launch
Spaceflightnow.com (9/3): Firefly’s Alpha small satellite launch vehicle exploded as it launched for the first time Thursday night from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. Detonation of the kerosene-fueled rocket occurred 2 minutes, 29 seconds into flight that began with a liftoff at 9:59 p.m. EDT.

Diversion

Skywatching tips from NASA
NASA.gov (9/1): Where to look up in the night sky over September. The opportunities include a brief chance to spot Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system and the object closest to the sun.

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