Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 23rd, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Space Launch System umbilical testing complete for Artemis I mission. Ingenuity helicopter getting ready for its 14th flight.


Human Space Exploration

NASA completes umbilical test for SLS Artemis 1 mission (9/22): NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) has achieved another milestone during ground processing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) as the large rocket developed to launch humans on missions to the Moon and Mars prepares for Artemis I, its first test flight. The Umbilical Release and Retract Test (URRT) took place earlier this week in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to demonstrate the separation of swing arms and umbilicals at the base of the SLS at liftoff. The umbilicals will provide power, communications, coolant, and fuel to the rocket and the Orion spacecraft while at the launch pad until they disconnect at ignition and launch.

Court filings shed light on Blue Origin vs. SpaceX lunar lander fight, with dark spots
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (9/22): The U.S. Court of Federal Appeals on Wednesday released 59 pages of text related to Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA and SpaceX over the April award of a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX for development of a Human Landing System (HLS) in support of Artemis III. Blue Origin has maintained that SpaceX had an unfair advantage in the competition that also included an aerospace team led by Dynetics.

Crew of ISS’s Russian segment are testing, integrating robotic manipulator
TASS of Russia (9/22): The July launch of Russia’s Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module to the International Space Station (ISS) included the European Robotic Arm (ERA), an external 11-meter-long, multi-jointed mechanical device that can be commanded from the outside as well as the inside of the orbital outpost. Currently, the ISS crew is activating the device and integrating its software for operations. Editor’s note: TASS is a Russian government-owned news source.


Space Science

Flying on Mars getting tougher as Ingenuity helicopter gears up for 14th hop (9/22): After a run of successful test flights and operational reconnaissance at Jezero Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission, the Ingenuity helicopter faces new challenges as it prepares for a 14th flight on Mars. The atmosphere is thinning as the season changes, requiring the helicopter’s blades to turn faster and faster.

NASA lander is off life support and back to work (9/22): Last week, NASA’s Mars InSight Lander, which touched down at Elysium Planitia on Mars in November 2018, detected one of its longest and most powerful quakes on Mars yet. The powerful marsquake detection marks a resurgence of sorts for InSight, which was forced to power down significantly in June due to the accumulation of dust on the lander’s solar panels. In all, three powerful quakes have been detected by InSight over the past month. InSight is equipped to carry out the first ever studies of the Martian crust, mantle, and core.

Hubble telescope discovers 6 mysteriously dead, massive galaxies from early universe
CBS News (9/22): Scientists observing with the Hubble Space Telescope were surprised when they discovered six massive galaxies from the earliest era of the universe that seemed to be dying. The period with large amounts of hydrogen is one that was thought to host rapid star birth. The study led by a University of Massachusetts scientist is still seeking an explanation.

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