Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 19th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra…  The U.S. Senate released the appropriations bill that funds NASA over the 2022 fiscal year. NASA announced on Monday its selection of the Cosmic Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) for development.


Human Space Exploration

Senate Appropriators increase NASA’s budget a tad, but not enough for a second HLS (10/19): The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee released the FY2022 legislation funding NASA. While the bill provides the agency with $24.837 billion, compared to the Biden Administration’s request of $24.801 billion, it lacks the spending to fund the development of two commercial Human Landing Systems (HLS) for the Artemis III mission. NASA predicted it needed $4.388 billion for the HLS in 2022 for a 2024 human lunar return. The Biden Administration’s 2022 budget proposal, however, sought $1.195 billion for HLS in 2022. The Senate bill would provide $1.295 billion. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has urged Congress to include $5.4 billion for the HLS as part of the infrastructure bill now being debated by lawmakers. Meanwhile, NASA is requesting that funding for the Orion spacecraft program be split between development, and production and operations. The Senate bill approves NASA’s request to shift about half of the Orion spacecraft money into operations, but requires NASA to submit a plan for managing Orion under this new arrangement. The committee also continued its support for the SLS program as originally envisioned by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, evolving from its current version into a more capable Block 1B using an Exploration Upper Stage (EUS). For the first time, the committee approved all of NASA’s requested funding for commercial LEO development.

NASA moves Orion spacecraft to the Vehicle Assembly Building
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (10/19): The Orion crew capsule assigned to Artemis I was moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) early Tuesday for stacking atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. The capsule and launch abort system are scheduled to be lifted atop the SLS stack later this week. Artemis I is to send the Orion without astronauts on a journey around the Moon and back to Earth for recovery.


Space Science

NASA selects gamma-ray telescope mission for development (10/18): NASA announced on Monday its selection of the Cosmic Spectrometer and Imager (COSI) for development. COSI is a small space telescope designed to study soft gamma rays and formation of chemical elements from stellar explosions and found in planet formation. COSI was selected for development from four finalists in an earlier small astrophysics mission competition. The development cost is estimated at $145 million, exclusive of the launch costs. Liftoff aboard a yet to be selected launch provider is planned for 2025.

An asteroid just zipped past Earth closer than the Moon’s orbit (10/18): Asteroid 2021 TG14, about the size of a bus, passed the Earth at a distance of 155,000 miles on Sunday, well within the orbit of the Moon. The pass occurred just a day after NASA launched its Lucy mission, a first ever mission to the Trojan asteroids that circle the sun in the same orbit as Jupiter.



The normalization of space tourism
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space
The Space Review (10/18): Briefly on October 13, there were two actors in space, though on different missions. Russian actress Yulia Peresild arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on October 5 for a 12-day stay with director Klim Shipenko to film scenes for “The Challenge,” a space medical drama. In West Texas, William Shatner, Capt. James T. Kirk in the famed Star Trek TV series, was one of four to reach suborbital space aboard the Blue Origin New Shepard that launched on October 13. The excitement surrounding “The Challenge” and Shatner flights has introduced more people and a more diverse range of people to the spaceflight topic, which has in turn contributed to creating the perception that space tourism has finally arrived, though the acceleration of private spaceflight won’t necessarily be smooth, writes Space Review editor and publisher Jeff Foust.

The Artemis Accords after one year of international progress
The Space Review (10/18): NASA’s Artemis Accords represent the most significant development in space diplomacy since the signing of the International Space Station (ISS) Intergovernmental Agreement, according to space specialists Paul Stimers and Audrey Jammes. Signed initially just over a year ago by eight countries, the Accords seek to establish a set of jointly agreed upon best practices for safe and sustainable deep space exploration, with an intent to reinforce and further implement the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. A dozen nations have now signed the Accords. 


Other News

U.K. spaceports and launchers gearing up for first flights
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (10/19): Multiple spaceports in the U.K. are gearing up to enter the commercial spaceflight market despite some environmental concerns. Investors are looking at horizontal as well as conventional rocket launches as a means to compete globally. 

Fledgling European space businesses still lacking the funds to fly (10/19): A lack of accessible financing options is holding European space startups back as supply shortages and price rises pose risks to the industry’s post-pandemic recovery, according to a white paper from the Access Space Alliance (ASA) small satellite group. “The funding itself is one thing — increasing funding is important, but beyond that you need to facilitate the access to that funding for the small companies,” said Betty Bonnardel, ASA founder and board member in an interview.

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