Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 7th, 2022

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… At this week’s Space Symposium, aerospace companies join to seek greater long-term diversity within their leadership and workforces. ESA looks for options to replace Russian components for ExoMars.  


Human Space Exploration

Artemis lunar lander contenders revisit team rosters for round two
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (4/7): This week’s Space Symposium has provided a discussion opportunity for aerospace company representatives looking to compete for a NASA contract to provide a second lunar Human Landing System (HLS) for future Artemis missions under the Sustaining Lunar Development project. NASA plans to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) this summer with a 60-day response period. The selection of a five-year contract agreement could be announced in January with a focus on future human Mars as well as a long-term lunar lander development. “The new competition is focused on landers to support long-term lunar exploration that can support later missions to Mars,” according to About the Mars requirement, Robert Lightfoot, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space said, “that changes your discussion about what capability you want bring to the table.” “Anything we do we want to be extensible to Mars.”


Space Science

ESA continues talks with NASA on ExoMars cooperation (4/7): Josef Aschbacher, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA) said the agency is holding discussions with NASA on how the two can work together on the ExoMars mission after ending cooperation with Russia. ESA announced in March it halted plans to launch the mission this year, featuring a European-built rover and Russian components, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia was to launch the mission on a Proton rocket and provide a landing platform and other elements. Other than partnering with NASA, an option ESA is pursuing is to replace Russian components with European ones. Aschbacher said studies are ongoing on technical and financial aspects of both strategies, which should be completed by June.

Marsquakes are caused by shifting magma (4/6): NASA’s InSight Mars lander, which touched down on the Red Planet in November 2018, is helping scientists address one of Mars’ biggest mysteries: What happened to its early magnetic field, a protective shield surrounding the planet that prevents the solar wind from stripping away its early atmosphere and likely protected an ancient habitable environment? Thanks to InSight’s instrumentation, it appears the planet is more seismically active than previously thought, with a mantle that is still dynamic. On Earth, a liquid iron core enables an underlying convection that supports a strong and protective magnetic field that protects the atmosphere and blocks harmful radiation reaching the surface. InSight’s discovery suggests that perhaps something other than a dynamic mantle on Mars could be at work preventing convective activity needed to support a magnetic field, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.


Other News

Space industry CEOs pledge to create more inclusive workforce
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Maxar, Nanoracks, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (4/5): Introduced earlier this week at the 37th Space Foundation Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, the Space Workforce 2030 is a pledge that commits members of the aerospace industry to strive for a workforce with different races and ethnicities, genders, religions, and cultures. Altogether there are six different objectives, including diversifying corporate leadership, working with academia to pursue greater diversity among those seeking engineering degrees, and sponsor K-12 programs to reach out to millions of underrepresented students each year.

SpinLaunch’s rocket-flinging launch system will loft NASA payload on test flight this year (4/6): Working with Silicon Valley based Spin Launch, NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program looks to help spur the growth of the space economy with the launch later this year of a kinetic launch technology. The concept is to accelerate a rocket to a high velocity on the ground using a rotating arm to fling the launch vehicle into the sky. Once airborne, the rocket engine ignites, reducing fuel, hardware, and the cost of achieving orbit.

China launches new satellite for Earth observation
Xinhuanet of China (4/7): The Gaofen-3 03 satellite launched from China on Thursday atop a Long March-4C will work with two previously launched satellites to form a land-sea radar satellite constellation and capture reliable, stable synthetic aperture radar imagery. Objectives include monitoring and protecting the marine environment, while providing data for agriculture, weather and safeguarding marine interests. (Editor’s note: Xinhuanet is a Chinese state-owned news source).

Army Corps of Engineers closes SpaceX Starbase permit application citing lack of information
The Verge (4/6): The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has closed a permit application for a proposed expansion of SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. The Corps cited SpaceX’s failure to provide requested information about the proposed changes as a reason for closing the permit. The Corps wanted details about what mitigation measures the company would take to limit the loss of water and wetlands surrounding the site, among other requirements. The environmental evaluation by the Corps is separate from an ongoing environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The company first purchased land in Boca Chica, Texas, in 2012, with the intention of creating a facility to launch its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. But the company has expanded its plans in recent years, creating a new site called Starbase to build and test launch prototypes of its Starship rocket.

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