Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 27th, 2022

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Israel joins Artemis Accords. The first launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan rocket will include a memorial to those who produced the Star Trek television series, and fans.


Human Space Exploration

Israel becomes 15th nation to join Artemis Accords (1/27): Israel has joined the Artemis Accords, a U.S.-led set of principles for space exploration. “I am proud to sign the Artemis Accords,” said Israel Space Agency’s Director-General Uri Oron in a signing ceremony on January 26, making the country the fifteenth signatory to the pact. “The Israeli Space Agency will continue to promote collaborations in research, science, innovation and economy within the framework of the Artemis Accords, between Israeli organizations and our international partners.”

NASA honors fallen astronauts with Day of Remembrance (1/27): NASA will pause today to remember the lives lost in the pursuit of space exploration, during the agency’s annual “Day of Remembrance.” This year’s edition coincides with the 55th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire of January 27, 1967. The following six days include two other somber anniversaries: the Challenger shuttle disaster of January 28, 1986 and the Columbia shuttle accident of February 1, 2003. The agency plans several livestreamed events of various center commemorations, along with a panel discussion about safety and lessons learned at 3:30 p.m. EST. The panel will air live on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

55 years after Apollo 1 fire, NASA’s lessons live on as Orion aims for the Moon
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin (1/27): As NASA prepares to send humans to the Moon with the Artemis program, the agency keeps in mind the lessons of past space incidents, especially those involving fatalities. For Orion, the capsule that will take astronauts back to the Moon, both NASA and Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for Orion, have stated that safety remains top of mind. As they build out the spacecraft, Apollo 1, they say, forms part of the network of “lessons learned.” At Lockheed, Orion program manager Michael Hawes was hired after 33 years at NASA, including working on the “return to flight” program following Columbia’s fatal incident. He outlines four safety measures put into Orion’s design, focusing on the key aspects related to astronaut safety: the hatch, the atmosphere, the heat shield, and flight computers.

House China competitiveness bill has little to say about space (1/26): The House has finally introduced its bill to parallel the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act to ensure U.S. competitiveness with China. The Senate version passed last summer incorporated other measures including a NASA authorization act and legislation related to space traffic management. They are not included in this House bill. NASA is barely mentioned in the 2,912-page text. It does direct the Department of Energy to engage in space radiation research for human exploration and “cosmic frontier” studies of dark energy and dark matter. It also has provisions about engaging with China on negotiating norms of behavior in space.

Russian cosmonaut secures U.S. visa after initial denial (1/26): After a rejection, Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Chub now has a U.S. visa to go to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) to train for a mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He’s part of the Soyuz MS-23 prime crew preparing for launch to the orbital science laboratory in the spring of 2023. Chub’s initial visa application was denied, raising speculation the U.S. took the action in response to rising tensions in the West over Russia’s troop buildup on the border with Ukraine. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on the matter.


Other News

NASA selects a dozen companies for smallsat launch services
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (1/27): NASA has selected a dozen companies to provide launch services for small space missions planned over the next five years under fixed price contracts estimated to total $300 million. The name for the initiative is the Venture-Class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare Missions (VADR). Companies that won VADR contracts are not guaranteed any launches but instead must compete for individual task orders issued by the agency, similar to the structure for its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program.

Star Trek tribute mission to fly on ULA’s Vulcan inaugural launch
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (1/26): United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced on Wednesday that Celestis, the space memorial services provider, will provide a Star Trek tribute as part of its first Vulcan rocket launch planned for later this year. Celestis will fly as a secondary payload with the Astrobotic Peregrine Lunar Lander. The Celestis mission’s “Enterprise Flight,” will pay tribute to Majel Barrett Roddenberry and her husband, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. In all, Enterprise will include more than 150 flight capsules containing cremated remains, DNA samples and messages from Star Trek fans.

White House official: Norms needed for ‘satellite to satellite interaction (1/26): The Biden administration in December released a broad space policy document that recognizes growing threats in space and calls for international norms of behavior. With that in mind, the administration now needs to address more specific questions, such as rules for satellite-servicing vehicles that dock with other satellites or use robotic arms to grab a client spacecraft, said Audrey Schaffer, director of space policy at the National Security Council, on January 26. With more U.S. and foreign companies now getting into the in-orbit servicing market, there is a risk that a debris-removal or refueling robot could be mistaken for an aggressor, said Schaffer during a CSIS panel discussion.

Astroscale pauses debris-removal demo following anomaly (1/26): Astroscale has paused an effort to demonstrate capture of an in-orbit satellite. Previously, the Astroscale spacecraft had used a magnetic mechanism to simulate an encounter and separation from a small companion satellite serving as a piece of debris. The exercise was to simulate autonomous capabilities for a larger scale encounter. With the pause, the company is working to address an anomaly with the spacecraft’s autonomous relative navigation system in order to continue the End-of-Life Services by Astroscale-demonstration (ELSA-d) mission.

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