Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 15th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The European-built service module for the Artemis II Orion spacecraft has arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Lucy is set to launch tomorrow. 


Human Space Exploration

Meet the Orion Service Module, the European-built brain of NASA’s new spacecraft for Moon trips (10/14): The European-built service module that will power the first crewed Artemis mission, arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida this week. The 13-ton service module consists of more than 20,000 components including the engines, electrical equipment, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support parts. Having completed its trans-Atlantic voyage, the European Service Module will be mated with the Orion Crew Module and undergo testing before the crewed launch of the Artemis II mission.


Space Science

Atlas 5 rocket rolls out to launch pad with NASA’s Lucy asteroid probe
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (10/14): Lucy, NASA’s first-ever mission to the Trojan asteroids, is set for launch from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on Saturday at 5:34 a.m. EDT atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The mission probe will head to a collection of primitive asteroids that orbit in front and behind giant Jupiter. The first of five close encounters is planned for 2027 with the remaining ones unfolding through 2033. Yesterday, ULA’s Atlas V rocket emerged from its hangar and rolled to the launch pad with the asteroid probe ahead of liftoff. Watch the spacecraft launch:    

Hidden exoplanets may trigger auroras on distant stars (10/15): Mysterious radio signals may blast out from auroras on distant stars triggered by hidden planets, a new study finds. In the study, researchers used the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in the Netherlands, to analyze radio signals from remote stars. Previously, astronomers could only detect steady radio emissions from the stars nearest Earth — all other faraway radio signals came from interstellar gas, or exotic objects such as black holes.

China launches first solar observatory, tests grid fins (10/14): A Chinese Long March 2D rocket on Thursday placed a solar explorer science satellite, the Chinese H-alpha Solar Explorer (CHASE), plus 10 smallsats with a variety of mission objectives, into orbit. The CHASE mission’s primary objective is to study solar activity in support of space weather forecasting, including observing filaments prior to eruptions of solar flares and coronal mass ejections.


Other News

Virgin Galactic postpones SpaceShipTwo flight, begins maintenance period (10/14): Virgin Galactic will postpone a SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceflight that had been scheduled for this month and instead begin an extended maintenance period for the spaceplane and its carrier aircraft. The company said it decided to move directly into the maintenance period after a recent lab test “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints” that “requires further physical inspection.” The maintenance will further delay the start of the company’s commercial flights.

Arianespace launches OneWeb past the halfway mark (10/14): Launched Thursday atop a Soyuz 2.1b rocket from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome, 36 OneWeb internet connectivity satellites successfully achieved orbit, extending the constellation beyond its halfway point. Some 358 members of a planned OneWeb constellation of 648 small satellites are now in orbit.

Reusability on the horizon for small satellite launch providers (10/14): The recent rise of small satellite launch services providers is preparing for a new twist, rocket reuse. The prospect surfaced during the recent Small Payload Ride Share Association Symposium. Rocket Lab is among those leading the reuse charge.

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