Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 14th, 2022

Deep Space Extra will not run on Friday, April 15 in observance of Good Friday.


In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The James Webb Space Telescope continues to chill down science instruments to prepare for science operations. The European Space Agency on Wednesday announced it was severing its partnership with Russia’s space agency on three Moon missions.


Human Space Exploration

Live coverage: NASA trying again today to complete Artemis I countdown test (4/14): The mission management team has given the “go” to proceed with cryogenic tanking of the Artemis I vehicle today. Tanking begins with chilling down the liquid oxygen lines for the core stage. In sequential fashion, liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2) will flow into the rocket’s core stage tank and be topped off and replenished as some of cryogenic propellant boils off.

First commercial crew in full stride aboard Space Station, having “a ton of fun”
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (4/13): Axiom Space’s Mike Lopez-Alegria characterized the Ax-1 first U.S. private astronaut mission now underway aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as an “all out sprint” in a Wednesday interview with CBS News. Ohio businessman Larry Connor, Canadian entrepreneur Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe adapted quickly to the absence of gravity and are working on a range of experiments and engagement activities, said Lopez-Alegria. As for lessons learned, he said planners need to add more time for commercial crew members, even those who aren’t affected by space adaptation syndrome, to get their “space legs” and learn how to efficiently move about in weightlessness.

NASA, SpaceX push back target launch date for Crew-4 mission (4/12): Once planned for April 20, the launch of the NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) Crew-4 astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is now planned for April 23. The mission is to deliver Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, all of NASA, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, for a six-month tour of duty. The launch data has been adjusted to accommodate the Axiom Space private astronaut mission now underway aboard the ISS and the Artemis I Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR) scheduled to wrap up at KSC today.


Space Science

Final James Webb Space Telescope instrument reaches super-cold operating temperature (4/13): Launched December 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) instrument suite has been chilling down in space to reach operating temperatures. The Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI), the last instrument to achieve the goal, has cooled to a little below 7 degrees Kelvin, or just above absolute zero, which is equal to minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit, NASA said on Wednesday. The cutting-edge observatory is in the midst of a six-month commissioning period. Initial science activities could begin in June.

Scientists investigate supermassive black hole ancestor from universe’s cosmic dawn (4/13): Using archival data gathered with the 32-year-old Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have spotted something unique, GNz7q, believed to be either a galaxy or a quasar, an object powered by a black hole a billion times more massive than the sun. It’s believed GNz7q formed an estimated 750 million years after the Big Bang in a region of intense star birth. Scientists believe the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will provide them with greater scrutiny of the object and perhaps others like it to better explain the rapid growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe. Findings were published in the journal Nature.

ESA ends lunar cooperation with Russia, turns to NASA, commercial partners (4/13): Prompted by Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, the European Space Agency (ESA) on Wednesday announced it has cut ties with Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, on three robotic lunar missions. They are the Luna 25 lander, due to launch later this year; the Luna-26 polar orbiter; and the Luna 27 lander. The decision by ESA’s council comes on the heels of an earlier decision by the agency to end its partnership with Russia on the ExoMars lander/rover mission that was in line to launch this year. European contributions to the lunar missions included PILOT, a precision optical navigation system, and PROSPECT, a drill. ESA’s director general, Josef Aschbacher, said the agency is working with NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative as one of the alternatives.

Five rover teams chosen to help explore the Moon’s South Pole (4/13): Five out of twelve initial teams will move later this year to a second round of competition sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Space Resources Innovation Center (ESRIC) to develop lunar rovers capable of exploring for deposits of water ice on the Moon. Once mined, subsurface lunar water ice, believed to be most prevalent at the lunar south and north poles, could provide a life support resource for astronauts and once processed provide liquid hydrogen and oxygen rocket fuels. Luxembourg will host the second round of competition in September. The competition features a simulated rugged lunar environment with rovers that are wheeled, tracked, or designed to walk about.


Other News

Space Force looking at what it will take to refuel satellites in orbit
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (4/13): In an effort to nurture commercial capabilities to service satellites in Earth orbit, the U.S. Space Force intends to launch three small satellites to geostationary orbit in 2025 to dock with a propellant tanker to be refueled. The effort is part of a $50 million experiment called Tetra-5, overseen by the Space Force’s Space Enterprise Consortium and intended to demonstrate elements of a refueling infrastructure. Satellite refueling ports will be provided by Northrop Grumman or Orbit Fab. “If we can get fuel as a service, we don’t have to build the infrastructure on orbit, and we can focus on protecting the satellites,” Col. Joseph Roth, director of innovation and prototyping at U.S. Space Systems Command, told Space News at last week’s Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

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