Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 1st, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… National Geographic cameras to fly on Artemis II mission. Latest Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics to be released this week.


Human Space Exploration

NASA to fly National Geographic cameras on crewed return to Moon (10/29): NASA announced a no-exchange-of-funds Space Act Agreement with National Geographic on Friday to fly cameras aboard Artemis II, the second test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with an Orion capsule. Launching with astronauts aboard Orion, the spacecraft will fly around the Moon and return to Earth for an ocean splashdown and recovery. The crew is to include NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) astronauts. National Geographic emerged from the selection in a solicitation process initiated by NASA last December to share the adventure and document the history-making journey in ways beyond those furnished by NASA TV.

U.A.E. examining options for future human spaceflight missions
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (10/28): Relatively new, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) human space program is looking to Russia and NASA as well as the commercial spaceflight sector for opportunities to launch its small core of astronauts. The UAE’s astronaut core consists of four personnel. Only one has launched. The UAE wants a significant role, however, in future human space exploration programs, according to representatives from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre.

Russia’s Progress MS-18 cargo spacecraft docks with orbital outpost ISS
TASS of Russia (10/29): Russia’s Progress MS-18 resupply capsule docked with the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian segment late Friday, two days after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. On board was a nearly three-ton cargo of food, crew supplies, and propellant. Editor’s note: TASS is a Russian government-owned news source

Weather delays Crew-3 launch (10/30): The launch of the Crew-3 Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been delayed from early Sunday to Wednesday at 1:10 a.m. EDT due to stormy conditions moving from the Ohio Valley off the Atlantic Coast and affecting winds and wave heights along the Falcon 9 launch corridor. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency (ESA), are now expected to dock with the ISS about 22 hours after launching to begin a six-month mission.


Space Science

NASA says we need a plan for when we discover alien life (10/28): The space science community needs a framework for reporting evidence of life beyond Earth, according to a recommendation from NASA chief scientist James Green and a group of colleagues. Their recommendation includes the adoption of a confidence of life detection (CoLD) scale for the evaluation of compelling new evidence. Specifically, they suggest a seven-step scale, with each step representing a benchmark that must be satisfied before proceeding to the next step in documenting a discovery. The case for CoLD is published in the journal Nature.


Other News

Virgin Galactic’s struggles raise questions about New Mexico spaceport’s future
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Santa Fe New Mexican (10/30): The future of New Mexico’s Spaceport America could be in jeopardy due to the long-running challenges Virgin Galactic has and continues to face in getting the company’s suborbital spacecraft on a footing to launch with paying passengers. Though it flew successfully in July with company founder Richard Branson, the craft veered off course. In mid-October, Virgin announced it was suspending plans for commercial flight with passengers until late 2022. State officials are urging the Spaceport to continue pursuing a diversity of tenants and clients in order to support the spaceport financially.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of October 31 – November 6, 2021
Coalition Member in the News – Maxar (10/31): The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine plans to release its astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey on Thursday. A virtual presentation is planned for 2 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. EDT. Also on Thursday, NASA will hold a press briefing at 1:00 p.m. EDT for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that is expected to be launched in December. The FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) will meet virtually on Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. EDT. In Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives continues to deliberate on a pair of infrastructure bills. The human infrastructure bill includes a potential $1.115 billion for NASA, less than NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was seeking initially. Missing is funding for a second Human Landing System (HLS).

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