Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 24th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA urged to avoid gap in low Earth orbit. Northrop Grumman to launch another in-space servicing vehicle.


Human Space Exploration

NASA urged to avoid Space Station gap
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom Space, Nanoracks (9/23): NASA leadership has been urged this week to prevent any gap between operations of the International Space Station (ISS) and successors provided by private commercial free flyers with NASA serving as one of multiple tenants. Robyn Gatens, NASA’s director of Space Station operations, told the U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee earlier this week that the agency would like to have a two-year transition period supporting both the final NASA-led Space Station operations and the first commercial free flyer successors. Congress must decide on an extension of NASA’s current authorized oversight of the ISS through 2024 until 2028, or perhaps 2030, as NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has suggested.

Cracks found on the International Space Station are a ‘fairly serious issue,’ a former NASA astronaut says
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (9/22): NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, became the first person to command the International Space Station in 2000. In testimony before the U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee earlier this week, Shepherd sounded an alarm over the structural integrity of the ISS’s aging Russian elements that have experienced a series of small cracks, allowing a small amount of air to leak.

Roscosmos announces tender to gauge ISS Russian segment’s residual service life
TASS of Russia (9/23): Roscosmos is seeking proposals from contractors prepared to assess the remaining structural life of the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian segment. The work must be completed by December 10, 2023. Bids are due by October 18. Russia provided the first of its five ISS modules, Zarya, in 1998, and the most recent, Nauka, in July 2021. Editor’s note: TASS is a Russian government-owned news source.


Space Science

The largest space telescope in history is about to blow our minds
Vox (9/22): “What we’re going to get is a telescope that’s about 100 times more powerful than Hubble,” says Amber Straughn, an astrophysicist at NASA who works on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). When it comes to reflecting telescopes, the key component is the size of its curved mirror. The more light you can collect, the fainter and farther-away objects you can see in the universe. The JWST’s other advantage is the type of light it collects. While the Hubble Space Telescope collects visible light, ultraviolet, and a little bit of infrared, the JWST is primarily an infrared telescope, so it sees light that’s in a longer wavelength than what our eyes can see.

Apophis: The asteroid we thought might hit us (9/22): Asteroid Apophis, officially a near-Earth object (NEO), is predicted to pass within 19,000 miles of the Earth in April 2029, close enough to be observed with the naked eye. It will be the closest approach of a potentially hazardous asteroid within a decade. Though the encounter is a miss, Apophis will be monitored into the future to assess whether gravitational influences from the close approach might increase the risk of an impact with the Earth during a future encounter.


Other News

Northrop Grumman to launch new satellite-servicing robot aimed at commercial and government market
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Maxar, Northrop Grumman (9/23): Northrop Grumman is preparing to launch a new servicing vehicle equipped with a robotic arm that will install propulsion jet packs on dying satellites. The Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) is the second-generation servicing vehicle from Space Logistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. It combines the company’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) with a robotic payload developed by DARPA. Six still-undisclosed customers have signed up to get their satellites serviced by the MRV, projected to launch in 2024.

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