Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 21st, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… House hearing emphasizes the development of nuclear propulsion for space travel. DART mission arrives at launch site.

Human Space Exploration

U.S. needs nuclear spacecraft to compete with China, NASA official says
UPI (10/20): In testimony on Wednesday, NASA and aerospace experts urged the U.S. House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee to continue support for nuclear propulsion technologies that could greatly accelerate the travel time by astronauts to Mars and help the nation maintain leadership in space. “Strategic competitors including China are aggressively investing in a wide range of space technologies, including nuclear power and propulsion.” Bhavya Lal, NASA’s senior advisor for budget and finance, testified during the hearing. “The U.S. needs to move at a fast pace to stay competitive and to remain a leader in the global space community.”

NASA starts process to acquire more commercial crew missions (10/21): NASA is beginning the process to procure more commercial crew flights as it looks to extend the International Space Station (ISS) through the end of the decade. The initiative includes the opportunity for new entrants to join the program. NASA issued a request for information (RFI) this week seeking information from industry on its ability to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.

Progress MS-17 making over 24 hour long relocation at Space Station (10/20): Russia’s Progress MS-17 resupply capsule undocked from the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian segment Poisk module late Wednesday and backed away to a separation of more than 100 miles in order to redock to the recently added Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module on Friday at 12:23 a.m. EDT. The autonomous relocation of the cargo capsule allows the Progress MS-17 to configure the docking port for the arrival of Russia’s Prichal module in November. Prichal will launch to Nauka to provide four docking ports. Nauka launched and docked to the ISS’s Russian segment in late July, making headlines shortly after the docking by unexpectedly firing thrusters that caused the orbiting science lab to temporarily lose attitude control.


Space Science

Spacecraft for asteroid deflection experiment ready for fueling
Coalition Member in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne (10/20): NASA’s planetary defense experiment, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission spacecraft, has arrived at its launch site, Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, where it will undergo fueling for a liftoff planned for November 23. DART is to travel to the binary asteroid Didymos, where it will deploy an impactor to strike the “moon,” or smaller of the two planetary bodies. Scientists will monitor the event and its aftermath to assess whether the impact strategy could prevent an asteroid on a course to collide with the Earth could be diverted.

NASA’s Lucy asteroid probe settles into Earth-orbiting cruise as engineers tackle solar array glitch
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (10/20): NASA’s Lucy mission to explore the Trojan asteroids that circle the sun in the orbit of Jupiter launched early Saturday. Soon, engineers discovered that one of two circular solar arrays deployed but failed to properly latch. In a status update issued earlier this week, NASA said the spacecraft can continue to function as assessments of the situation continue. The long-term impacts, if there are any, are being evaluated.


Other News

Korea fails to put dummy satellite into orbit
Yonhap News Agency of South Korea (10/21): The country’s first attempt at the launch of a domestic rocket, the KSLV-2, or Nuri, with a mock 1 1/2-ton satellite as the payload on Thursday failed. Another attempt will be made next year, according to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Israel, UAE sign historic space agreement
Jerusalem Post (10/21): The Middle East’s Israel and United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a space exploration and cooperation agreement as part of 2020 Expo Dubai. The signing follows a peace agreement reached between the two countries last year.

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