Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 4th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Administrator Bill Nelson continues to express confidence in funding for Artemis. The agency turns to the private sector for spacesuit development.


Human Space Exploration

Nelson remains confident regarding funding for Artemis (10/3): In a September 30 interview, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed confidence that Congress will provide the agency with funding to allow it to select a second lunar lander developer despite a lack of public progress on funding and concerns about the effect an ongoing protest could have on congressional support. The House Science Committee’s portion of a reconciliation package provides $4 billion for NASA infrastructure, and around $400 million for Earth science and cybersecurity. The full House has yet to take up the reconciliation bill amid negotiations with the Senate about the size of the overall package. The Senate has yet to begin consideration of its version of the reconciliation package. Nelson said he remained hopeful that the Senate will support additional funding for NASA, including the Human Landing System (HLS) program.

After years of futility, NASA turns to private sector for spacesuit help
Ars Technica (10/1): Last week, NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) issued a call to industry for new spacesuits. The call takes a new approach to procuring spacesuits, with NASA essentially renting the suits from industry and not building them in-house. The suits must be able to meet a variety of requirements, including up to six spacewalks on the lunar surface during initial Artemis Moon missions.

Aerojet Rocketdyne wraps up retrofit tests of heavy-lift rocket engines
Coalition Member in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne
Executive Biz (10/1): Aerojet Rocketdyne last week completed the seven-part retrofit testing series of the modernized components of its RS-25 engines that will be used on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. The tests at Stennis Space Center validated the RS-25’s main combustion chamber, fuel oxidizer turbopumps, and valves and actuators. According to the company, the tested components would bring down the SLS engine’s cost by 30 percent compared to the variant used in the space shuttle program.


Space Science

Lucy in final preparations for launch, Principal Investigator discusses mission’s trajectory
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (10/2): The 23-day launch window for NASA’s ambitious Lucy mission opens on October 16. The 12-year mission will require a complex trajectory to enable flybys of its Trojan targets. After launch, the Lucy spacecraft will fly by the Earth twice to receive the gravity assists required to move it out to Jupiter.

Mercury looks stunning in this 1st flyby photo from Europe and Japan’s BepiColombo mission (10/2): BepiColombo, a joint European/Japanese mission to the planet Mercury, has transmitted new imagery gathered during the first of six flybys of Mercury needed to achieve a final orbit around the planet closest to the sun.


Other News

Ball Aerospace and L3Harris win weather instrument study contracts
Coalition Member in the News – L3Harris (10/1): NASA awarded contracts to L3Harris Technologies and Ball Aerospace to study instruments for Geostationary and Extended Observations (GeoXO), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) next generation of geostationary satellites, valued at approximately $8 million apiece. Under the contracts, the companies will conduct definition Phase A studies of geostationary sounders to inform NASA and NOAA’s work to select the hyperspectral infrared instrument for the GeoXO constellation. The two agencies are working together on the GeoXO mission. NOAA will provide funding, management, and operations. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the acquisition of the Phase A contracts.

Millennium Space sees opportunities in missile defense
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, L3Harris (10/2): A Space Force missile warning experimental satellite built on a Millennium Space bus is projected to launch to geostationary orbit next year. Millennium, a satellite manufacturer owned by Boeing, now hopes to use the experience gained from this project in larger contracts for space-based missile defense systems. Jason Kim, Millennium Space CEO said the market for missile defense satellites is forecast to grow as the DoD plans a multi-orbit architecture of overheard persistent infrared (OPIR) sensors. Millennium is also seeking to capture some of the military’s anticipated demand for small satellites for different applications. 

Air Force’s X-37B robotic space plane wings past 500 days in Earth orbit
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/2): The U.S. Air Force’s latest X-37B space plane mission has now logged more than 500 days in Earth orbit. Launched May 17, 2020, the spacecraft’s primary mission is classified. The Boeing-built spacecraft’s longest mission to date was 780 days.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of October 3-10, 2021
Coalition Member in the News – Maxar (10/3): Early Tuesday, Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 is set to deliver actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko to the International Space Station (ISS) in the company of veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov for a 12-day stay to film scenes for a movie called “The Challenge.” Coverage of the 4:55 a.m. EDT launch and 8:12 a.m. EDT docking begins at 4:15 a.m. EDT ( Four NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) astronauts are preparing to launch to the orbiting science lab for a six-month stay on October 30. NASA will air a pre-launch mission briefing on Wednesday, and a news briefing by the four astronauts on Thursday. Meanwhile, the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences meets virtually each day this week through Friday. The Satellite Innovation 2021 conference meets Tuesday through Thursday in Mountain View, California. Space Tech Expo USA meets Thursday and Friday in Long Beach, California. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration’s CEO Frank Slazer will be participating as a panelist. In Washington, the Senate is in session this week. It’s largely a committee work week for the U.S. House, which is also prepared to meet pro forma.

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