Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 13th, 2022

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal resumes. Putin says sanctions won’t halt progress of Russia’s space program. The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed the largest comet ever observed.


Human Space Exploration

NASA restarts Moon rocket Wet Dress Rehearsal countdown (4/12): As planned, NASA resumed the milestone Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Tuesday. The two-day countdown simulation that began on April 1 was interrupted twice by difficulties with ground systems and finally a helium check valve in the Space Launch System’s (SLS) upper stage. The rehearsal that is to wrap up on Thursday is now focused on loading of liquid oxygen and hydrogen propellants in the SLS core stage and minimal propellant operations on the upper stage. Upon completion of the launch pad countdown simulation, the rocket will be returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), while NASA experts assess the results of the countdown rehearsal and establish a launch date.

Putin vows Russian space program will continue unabated despite sanctions
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (4/12): As Russia celebrated Cosmonautics Day on Tuesday, the 61st anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first human space flight, President Vladimir Putin vowed that the sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine will not deter the country’s space exploration ambitions. He specifically cited Luna-25, a joint robotic mission to the Moon with contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA); Oryol, a new human spacecraft for missions to the Moon as well as Earth orbit; and space nuclear technologies.


Space Science

‘Megacomet’ Bernardinelli-Berstein is largest ever seen, Hubble telescope confirms (4/12): New observations with the Hubble Space Telescope confirm that Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the largest comet ever seen. At 80 miles across, it is 50 times larger than the average comet core. The object has been falling toward the sun for about one million years and will come no closer to the Earth than 1 billion miles.

NASA photos show the Perseverance Mars rover and Tiny Ingenuity Helicopter from space (4/12): The new images, snapped on March 31 by the HiRISE (High Resolution Imagine Experiment) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, show both the rover and helicopter together on the planet’s surface. The photos come just about 16 years after the camera delivered its first Mars photos. Perseverance can be seen sitting on the cracked surface of a large rock formation called “Máaz” the Navajo word for “Mars.” About 656 feet to the left of the rover, Ingenuity sits on the bedrock.


Other News

U.S., India agree to cooperate on space situational awareness (4/12): In an agreement reached Monday, the U.S. and India will pursue deeper cooperation regarding space and cyberspace matters under the auspices of the U.S. Space Command and India’s Defense Space Agency.

White House releases in-space servicing strategy (4/13): The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released on April 4 a national strategy for in-space servicing, assembly and manufacturing (ISAM). The document establishes a set of goals for supporting the development of technologies and services ranging from refueling and repairing satellites to building new spacecraft in orbit. The strategy identifies goals to support work on ISAM capabilities, including accelerating the development of the ISAM industry, promoting international collaboration and cooperation on ISAM, and inspiring the future workforce. The strategy, as part of the international cooperation goal, also backs the development of standards and best practices for satellite servicing and proximity operations, and addresses regulatory gaps.

GAO completes investigation of the decision to relocate U.S. Space Command (4/12): A preview of a U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) assessment of a January 2021 Trump administration decision to move the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama, was flawed and based on an untested process, according to four Colorado lawmakers who’ve been briefed on the yet to be publicly released findings. The decision lacked transparency, while neglecting national security and cost considerations, according to the two U.S. senators and two members of the House of Representatives.

NASA motion base shuttle simulator lands at museum for display (4/12): NASA’s Shuttle Mission Simulator-Motion Base, once used to train astronauts at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) for space shuttle missions, has a new home, the Lone Star Flight Museum at Houston’s Ellington Airport. The museum welcomed the simulator as a new display on Tuesday, which marked the 41st anniversary of the first shuttle mission, STS-1, on April 12, 1981. Built in 1976, the simulator was retired after the final shuttle mission in 2011 and voluntarily restored, a 5,000-hour effort, to prepare it for public display.

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