Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 7th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Draft House infrastructure bill to be marked up on Thursday proposes funds for NASA infrastructure but not for a second Human Landing System. The Perseverance rover has collected its first Mars rock sample.


Human Space Exploration

Draft House infrastructure bill funds NASA & NOAA space programs, but not HLS (9/6): A draft of a portion of a U.S. House infrastructure bill before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology proposes $4 billion for fixing and modernizing NASA aging facilities, while proposing $388 million for climate change research, and $12 million for IT, cybersecurity, and the agency’s Inspector General (IG). However, the measure does not address NASA Administrator Bill Nelson’s call for additional funding to support the development of a second lunar Human Landing System (HLS). The Committee is scheduled to convene on Thursday to mark up the legislation.

Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA and SpaceX delayed again as the DOJ struggled to add page numbers to 1,700 documents before a deadline (9/5): A second extension requested last Friday by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to organize documentation could further hold up a suit filed by Blue Origin contesting NASA’s award of a single contract to SpaceX for the development of an Artemis program HLS. NASA’s work on the contract had been halted until November 1 prior to Friday’s DOJ request for additional time. Last week, DOJ attorneys proposed a new restart date of November 8, but it was unclear from the court filings if that date had been approved by NASA or the parties. 

Russian cosmonauts begin series of spacewalks to integrate Nauka with the ISS (9/3): Cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novitskiy extended eight solar power cables from the U.S. segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to Russia’s new Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module during a lengthy September 3 spacewalk. The excursion is the first of an estimated 11 in the coming weeks to integrate Nauka into the orbital lab. Nauka, launched July 21, docked on July 29. The module includes a sleep station, toilet, oxygen, and water generation system as well as an external European robotic arm.


Space Science

Perseverance rover seals up 1st Mars sample for future return to Earth (9/7): NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully drilled for and acquired its first sample of Mars rock. The success of the effort was confirmed with imagery that arrived back on Earth at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Sunday. The first attempt at collecting a sample on August 5 was unsuccessful when the rock core turned out to be exceedingly crumbly, failing to make it into the sample container. NASA is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) on a follow-on mission to return the samples to Earth for analysis.

China’s Chang’e-5 orbiter is heading back to the Moon (9/6): The Chang’e-5 orbiter, which facilitated China’s lunar sample return last year, is on its way to the Moon following deep space tests. The Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center (BACC), which is responsible for telemetry, tracking, and command of spacecraft, has yet to provide an update on the plans for Chang’e-5. A potential maneuver includes using a lunar flyby to set Chang’e-5 on a trajectory to orbit 469219 Kamoʻoalewa, the target for China’s 2024 near Earth asteroid sample-return mission.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of September 5-12, 2021 (9/5): The 2021 Satellite conference will gather in Maryland for four days, beginning on Tuesday. In orbit, cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Noviskiy are scheduled for a second in a series of possibly 11 spacewalks on Friday to integrate the exterior of the new Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module to the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS). Next Sunday, Japanese and European astronauts Aki Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet are to spacewalk for NASA to prepare the port side of the ISS’s long solar power truss for the third of six planned Roll Out Solar Arrays (ROSA). Meanwhile, the House and Senate face the October 1 start of the 2022 fiscal year with a budget still in work, while also working in parallel on multi trillion-dollar infrastructure legislation. On Thursday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will mark up its portion of the $3.5 trillion spending bill being considered under reconciliation.

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