Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 18th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… ULA launches NASA’s Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids. House and Senate this week hold hearings on nuclear propulsion and international collaboration in space.


Human Space Exploration

International Space Station tilted after thrusters on a Russian craft fired unexpectedly
The Verge (10/16): For the second time in three months, the International Space Station (ISS) was jarred by a Russian thruster firing. Early Friday, the Soyuz MS-18 docked to the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module underwent a planned test firing prior to its departure Saturday night for Earth. The MS-18 thruster firing continued longer than planned and led to a loss of ISS attitude control. Russian ground teams regained control within 30 minutes. Nauka launched to the ISS on July 21 and docked eight days later. Shortly after the linkup, thrusters on Nauka fired unexpectedly leading to a temporary but major loss of ISS attitude control.

Russian actress and director return to Earth after a movie shoot in space
CBS News (10/17): Russian actress Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko returned to Earth early Sunday aboard a Soyuz spacecraft with veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, following a 12-day filming session aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Their Soyuz MS-18 capsule departed the ISS on Saturday night and descended under parachute into central Kazakhstan for a touchdown at 12:35 a.m. EDT. Additional scenes at the landing site were filmed for “The Challenge”, a drama about a surgeon who launches to the ISS in response to a medical emergency.

Starliner valve investigation continues to focus on moisture interaction with propellant
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing (10/16): A team including experts from Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and NASA continue to pursue an explanation for the stuck propellant valves in the service module of the CST-100 Starliner that prevented an early August launch on an uncrewed flight test for a docking with the International Space Station. It appears nitrogen tetroxide propellant may have reacted with moisture to form corrosive nitric oxide, which prevented the valves from opening.

NASA expects vaccination mandates to have little impact on Artemis 1 preparations (10/18): As teams at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) approach final Artemis I preparations, agency officials say they are confident COVID-19 vaccination mandates will have little impact on work progress. The program is dealing on a case-by-case basis with individuals seeking exemptions, such as for medical or religious reasons. The officials have stated that NASA is working with the centers and the agency to posture themselves to do what they can to accommodate those people and not let it impact the work.


Space Science

NASA asteroid explorer leaves planet Earth on Atlas 5 rocket
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (10/16): NASA’s Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the sun launched successfully in the predawn Saturday atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. This is the 146th successful launch for ULA, which holds a perfect launch success rate. Lucy was developed to visit some of the solar system’s earliest objects to provide new information about how the planets formed.

NASA investigating issue with Lucy solar array
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (10/17): One of two circular electricity generating solar arrays deployed after NASA’s Lucy mission spacecraft launched early Saturday may not have latched fully into place following deployment, NASA stated on Sunday. Engineers are investigating the issue, which so far has not affected generation of power for the spacecraft’s science instruments.



It’s time to rescind the moratorium on regulation of commercial spaceflight (10/15): No matter how easy commercial spaceflight companies try to make it appear in their TV coverage, human space travel offers many threats to a private astronaut’s life, says space historian and author Jonathan H. Ward in an op-ed. While this doesn’t mean that progress should stop, writes Ward, the ventures can be done more prudently. He concludes that “Congress should consider amending or eliminating the moratorium on regulating commercial spaceflight as soon as possible.”


Other News

China testes nuclear-capable, hypersonic space weapon- FT
The Jerusalem Post (10/17): China made advances in space weapon capabilities in August as they secretly tested an advanced nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, The Financial Times reported on Saturday night. The report said the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe before cruising toward its target, which it missed by about 25 miles.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of October 17-23, 2021
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/17): NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) will host a virtual town hall on Monday at 3 p.m. EDT. Experts from NASA and Boeing will join Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. EDT to provide an update on Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). The U.S. House Science Committee’s Space Subcommittee will host a virtual hearing on space nuclear propulsion for human deep space exploration on Wednesday at 10 a.m. EDT. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s Space Subcommittee hosts a hearing on Thursday at 10 a.m. EDT on international cooperation and competition in space, also virtual.

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