Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 22nd, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Orion joins the already assembled Space Launch System hardware for the launch of Artemis I. Webb’s final pre-launch electrical systems tests begin.


Human Space Exploration

Senate committee told U.S. space leadership requires continued presence in low Earth orbit
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom Space, Lockheed Martin, Nanoracks (10/21): A sustained human presence in low Earth orbit like that pioneered by the NASA-led International Space Station (ISS) is an essential part of U.S. leadership in space, expert witnesses told the Senate Space and Science Subcommittee during a hearing on Thursday. The hearing came amidst efforts underway by NASA to transition activities now done on the ISS to commercial stations. The ISS was authorized by Congress in 2017 to function until at least 2024. There is expectation that support for the ISS could extend to 2030. Meanwhile, the funding needed to establish commercial successors has yet to emerge, according to some of the witnesses.

Nanoracks and Lockheed Martin partner on commercial space station project
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom Space, Lockheed Martin, Nanoracks (10/21):  Nanoracks with its majority owner Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin, are joining to collaborate on a future commercial low Earth orbit station, named Starlab. Nanoracks will be the prime contractor with Voyager handling strategy and investment, and Lockheed serving as the manufacturer and technical integrator. The station will consist of a docking node with an inflatable module attached to one side, and a spacecraft bus, providing power and propulsion, attached to the other side. The companies are among many seeking to participate in NASA’s Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations, or CLD, program. That program, announced earlier this year, will provide NASA funding for initial studies of commercial space stations, then certify those stations for use by NASA astronauts.

Artemis 1 Orion joins SLS to complete vehicle stack
Coalition Member in the News – Jacobs (10/21): The Orion crew capsule has been stacked atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in preparation for the launch of Artemis I. Integrated operations team members from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) program and prime launch processing contractor Jacobs received the spacecraft in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on October 19. Orion was placed on top of the already integrated SLS flight hardware for Artemis I to be bolted together. After the structural attachment, electrical and data connections between Orion and SLS will be completed, along with umbilical connections from the Mobile Launcher to the spacecraft.


Space Science

Webb telescope unboxed after shipment to Guiana Space Center
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (10/19): Engineers removed the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) from its intercontinental shipping container in South America last week and kicked off a final pre-launch comprehensive electrical systems test Monday ahead of liftoff in December on an Ariane 5 rocket. The observatory arrived October 12 at the Guiana Space Center, a spaceport run by the French space agency CNES and the European Space Agency (ESA), after a 16-day journey by boat from Southern California, where Northrop Grumman assembled and tested JWST.


Other News

NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge awards $450,000 to first-round winners (10/22): NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) just announced 18 winners in Phase 1 of the Deep Space Food Challenge, which aims to spur the development of new and potentially game-changing food technologies for space. The selected ideas range from a universal food fabricator able to dehydrate plants and meats, to a self-contained device that can create foods from insect cells. Each winner will receive $25,000. 

Russia to launch Luna-27 lunar lander mission atop Angara rocket from Vostochny spaceport
TASS of Russia (10/20): Head of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin has outlined plans to use the new civilian Vostochny Spaceport for the launch of a succession of missions to lunar orbit and the lunar surface using Angara and Soyuz rockets beginning in 2022 with Luna-25. The Luna-27 mission, planned for a 2025 launch, will include a lander with a drill. The four Luna-25 through 28 missions are to be Russia’s first to the Moon since those launched by the former Soviet Union. Editor’s note: TASS is a Russian government-owned news source.

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