Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 15th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA announced the selection of five companies to mature Artemis lander concepts. Astronaut set to stay aboard the ISS for almost a year.


Human Space Exploration

NASA selects five companies for lunar lander studies
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Board Member Lisa Callahan (9/14): NASA announced the selection of five companies Tuesday to mature concepts for lunar human landers to assure regular crewed transportation from lunar orbit to the surface under the Artemis initiative. NASA is awarding $146 million in contracts to evaluate the safety and performance on lander concepts developed by Blue Origin, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX. The awards are distinct from the initial crewed lunar landing demonstration mission awarded under the NextSTEP-2 Appendix H procurement.
A Lockheed Martin executive confirmed they are still participating in the Blue Origin-led team while also studying other options. “Lockheed Martin continues to be committed to the National Team and its thoughtful, safe and sustainable lander system,” Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager of commercial civil space at Lockheed Martin, said. A Northrop executive offered a similar comment. “We continue to work in partnership with Blue Origin and the National Team to meet NASA’s ambitious goals to return to the moon and Mars,” said Steve Krein, vice president of civil and commercial satellites at Northrop Grumman.

NASA testing spacesuits by shooting them with a giant gun
Futurism (9/14): Test engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center are subjecting potential space suit materials to air blasts of steel ball bearings traveling at 3,000 feet per second to evaluate how well the materials might hold up to micrometeorite strikes. The study is part of NASA’s effort to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon to establish a sustainable presence and prepare for future expeditions to Mars.

NASA astronaut to stay on ISS for nearly a year (9/14): When he launched in April to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 with cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei knew a return to Earth in October might be extended to nearly a year. On Tuesday, NASA made it official that Vande Hei and Dubrov will continue to live and work aboard the ISS until March 2022. Novitskiy will return in October as planned. However, he will be joined by film director Klim Shipenko and actor Yulia Peresild., who will launch in the fall for an estimated two-week stay to film scenes for a movie. Veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov who will launch with the director and actor will return to Earth with Vande Hei and Dubrov. Vande Hei’s forecast of 353 days in space would set a new U.S. record for a single journey to space.

First commercial orbital space crew ready to go
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (9/14): Inspiration4, the first orbital spaceflight by a crew of four commercial astronauts, Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Haley Arceneaux, and Chris Sembroski, is set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) no earlier than Wednesday at 8:02 p.m. EDT, weather permitting. Their three days in Earth orbit will include health research.


Space Science

Solar ‘superflares’ rocked Earth less than 10,000 years ago and could strike again
Scientific American (9/13): A Swiss-led study suggests that major disruptive geomagnetic storms like the Carrington Event of 1859 may not be as rare as once believed. Carrington featured brilliant auroral displays and electrical fires in telegraph lines, activities that could prove devastating in a now internet connected culture dependent on satellites for communications and weather observations. The study submitted to the journal Nature Communications for publication found evidence for similar solar disruptive solar superflare events in 5259 BC and 7176 BC.


Other News

South Korea seeks $553 million space budget for 2022 (9/14): South Korea’s leadership is seeking the equivalent of a $553 million budget in U.S. dollars for space in 2022, a four percent increase. A large share of the budget, which would go into effect on January 1, is to support the development of a South Korean launch vehicle. South Korea would like to complete the effort by 2026.

‘Taiwan must secure a strategic position in space industry’s supply chain’: president (9/15): Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen said this week her country must secure a position in the space industry’s supply chain and called for the creation of a local team dedicated to manufacturing satellites and ground station equipment. She highlighted that “every country in the world is racing against time to go to space” and that thousands of satellites expected to be sent into low Earth orbit in the next decade will generate demand for satellite and ground equipment manufacturing. “The next decade is very crucial as many nations are also planning to return to the moon and Taiwan must secure a more strategically significant position in the ‘New Space Age,” said the Taiwanese president. 

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