Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 6th, 2022

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Artemis I Space Launch System Wet Dress Rehearsal will now follow the launch of Axiom Space’s AX-1 mission. Teledyne Brown Engineering announces partnership with Sierra Space and Nissan for human-rated lunar rover. MDA joins Lockheed Martin and GM for lunar rover development.


Human Space Exploration

Axiom-1 keeps green light for Friday, Artemis test will wait
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (4/5): Axiom-1 (AX-1), the first U.S.-sponsored all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS), remains on track for launch this Friday. Jim Free, NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Development, said yesterday that NASA will wait to resume the WDR until after AX-1 launches. Other NASA officials said a new date has not been determined yet, but will be no earlier than Saturday. Using adjacent launch pads at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the launch and the test cannot take place the same day. AX-1 has been postponed twice so NASA could conduct the test, but after two scrubs the agency is stepping aside. As soon as AX-1 returns, NASA needs to launch its next set of astronauts on the Crew-4 mission, another schedule complication. As for the WDR, Launch Director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson said that significant progress was made even though they could not complete the wet dress rehearsal yet. She said the test has two primary objectives and five secondary objectives, and that one primary objective and three of the secondary objectives have been met.

MDA Joins Lockheed Martin and General Motors on next generation lunar rover development
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (4/5): MDA is joining with Lockheed Martin and General Motors to develop human-rated lunar rovers. Lockheed and GM formed the team in 2021. MDA, a Canadian developer of commercial space robotic arm technologies, will join with the two in providing a commercial robotic arm to the planned lunar mobility vehicles. The company built the robotic arm currently used on the International Space Station (ISS).

Nissan announces it is designing a Lunar Terrain Vehicle for NASA alongside Teledyne and Sierra Space
Coalition Member in the News – Teledyne Brown (4/5): Teledyne Engineering’s experience designing Lunar Terrain Vehicles for NASA astronauts dates to the Apollo era. Sierra Space’s winged Dream Chaser is in development to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Nissan, the Japanese automaker, brings a legacy in automotive design and capability. Together, they will work on a version of a lunar terrain vehicle for NASA, it was announced at the 37th Space Symposium underway in Colorado Springs this week.

Vande Hei discusses longest single U.S. human space mission
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Northrop Grumman (4/5): NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei’s U.S. record-setting 355-day mission to the International Space Station ended March 30 aboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft with two cosmonauts. On Tuesday, he joined a NASA news briefing to discuss his experience. Still re-acclimating to gravity, Vande Hei told participants he hopes his achievement is considered a “steppingstone” to further successes in space that enable a human return to the lunar surface and future human expeditions to Mars. Despite growing global tensions on Earth over Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine, Vande Hei said his relationship with his cosmonaut colleagues was mission-focused and that they are and will remain “close friends.”


Space Science

Hubble has been watching this planet form for 13 years (4/5): For 13 of its 32 years in orbit around the Earth, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has been used to monitor the development of a protoplanet in a young solar system 530 light years away. The host star itself is only two million years old and the young planet designated “AB Aurigae b” has been forming with intense violence. The saga is the focus of a research effort published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

NASA’s Perseverance rover gives a snippet of what Mars sounds like: ‘It was so quiet’ (4/5): NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has been exploring the surface of Mars at Jezero Crater since 2021. In a surprise discovery, the rover’s microphones have revealed that the Red Planet is eerily quiet, due to the thin, carbon dioxide rich atmosphere. Only low-pitched sounds are audible at more than short distances. The findings were published in the journal Nature.


Other News

Tory Bruno: Amazon’s launch contracts a ‘big deal’ for U.S. and allies’ industrial competitiveness
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (4/6): Amazon’s major deal to purchase up to 83 launches from Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance (ULA) is “a big deal” in the context of recent geopolitical developments, ULA’s CEO Tory Bruno said April 5 at Space Symposium. These contracts are not just significant for the companies themselves, he said, but also good for the West’s industrial competitiveness following Russia’s abrupt exit from the global launch market stemming from its incursion into Ukraine. Bruno highlighted the significance of winning this contract for ULA and for the future of its Vulcan rocket. The new orders will allow the company to expand Vulcan production and increase investments in infrastructure, he said. Asked about any potential risks for ULA from the Amazon deal, Bruno said the only issue would be the infrastructure investment. “We looked pretty carefully at how much of that infrastructure would be available for other customers, would be wanted or needed,” he said.

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