Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 25th, 2022

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… SLS to return to the VAB. Axiom-1 private mission astronauts have undocked from the ISS. Their departure sets the stage for NASA’s Crew-4 mission launch. NASA’s space tech programs could face limitations.


Human Space Exploration

NASA readies SLS Moon rocket for return to Vehicle Assembly Building (4/24): A NASA crawler-transporter was moved beneath the Mobile Launcher with the Artemis I Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule on Sunday in preparation for moving the Artemis I hardware to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The vehicle is being moved to the VAB for repairs and upgrades ahead of another attempt at a Wet Dress Rehearsal (WDR), an elaborate countdown simulation that includes propellant loading. The milestone will set the stage for the launch of Artemis I, a multi-week, uncrewed test flight of the Orion capsule around the Moon and return to Earth for splashdown and recovery.

Historic Axiom-1 mission returning from ISS as Crew-4 prepares for launch
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (4/24): The Axiom-1 (Ax-1) private astronauts undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday at 9:10 p.m. EDT. The crew is set to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday at 1:06 p.m. EDT. The Ax-1 crew lifted off April 8 on what was to be a 10-day round trip. Florida weather prompted an extension. The Ax-1 mission departure frees a docking port at the ISS for the planned launch of NASA’s Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Their launch from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is planned for Wednesday at 3:52 a.m. EDT.


Space Science

NASA is ready to try and fix Lucy’s unlatched solar panel (4/23): NASA’s first-ever trojan asteroid mission launched on October 16, 2021. One of two solar power generation panels, however, failed to fully deploy and latch. While sufficiently powered on its journey to the trojans orbiting Jupiter, there are concerns about how the not fully latched panel might impair future performance. Engineers now have a strategy to latch the panel that uses a backup deployment motor. The effort will begin over the week of May 9.

The probability of life on Jupiter’s moon Europa just got a lot higher
Raw Story (4/24): Additional interest in Europa’s potential to harbor life stems from a new study about that moon. The subject of curiosity is the giant ridges that crisscross the world’s surface. Underneath those ridges, explain the authors of the paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, there may be pools of salty, liquid water. And since those ridges are ubiquitous, that means the pools could also be commonplace.


Other News

NASA space technology programs face “constraining” budget (4/23): Without additional funding, NASA’s space technology efforts will be constrained, Jim Reuter, the agency’s associate administrator for space technology, told a gathering of the National Academies’ Space Technology Industry-Government-University Roundtable last week. The total of $1.1 billion provided for the 2022 fiscal year in an omnibus appropriations measure equals that provided for 2021 and 2020, though the request for the current budget period was $1.425 billion. Congress specified funding for nuclear thermal propulsion and the OSAM-1 satellite servicing mission, which then leaves $328 million to invest in other new initiatives of value.

Maine’s planning to build a spaceport. Here’s how it could become a leader in the industry of Maine (4/24): Maine Gov. Janet Mills last week signed legislation establishing the Maine Space Port Corp., a public-private partnership for the construction of launch sites, data networks and support operations for small satellite launches and associated products with job creation potential. The envisioned Maine Space Complex would likely be hosted by Brunswick Landing within the next decade.

South Korea “welcomes” U.S. moratorium on anti-satellite missile tests; China skeptical (4/22): South Korea has joined Russia and others in backing a call from Vice President Kamala Harris earlier this month banning further direct ascent anti-satellite rocket testing. In a statement to the United Nations’ Office of Disarmament Affairs last year, South Korea had called on space actors to “behave transparently and responsibly” since verifying intention in space is difficult and challenging without official declarations from a space object’s operator. China, however, has expressed skepticism, which it fueled with comments about Washington’s refusal to discuss an arms control initiative for space that China and Russia co-launched in 2008.

China to build asteroid monitoring & defense system, to conduct tests as early as 2025 (4/24): Wu Yanhua, the deputy lead for the China National Space Administration (CNSA), announced plans on Sunday to establish an asteroid monitoring and defense system. The plans include a course altering asteroid impact demonstration as soon as 2025. Wu spoke to China National Television. China’s plan would join similar efforts underway by NASA and Russia, according to an expert who spoke with the Global Times on Sunday.

Japan’s ispace negotiating first commercial Moon landing insurance (4/22): iSpace, the commercial Japanese lunar lander provider, announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, of Tokyo, for coverage of its first attempt to place a lander on the Moon later this year. The arrangement is to cover any damage once the lander has separated from its launch vehicle and while touching down as well as from radiation exposure. The M1 lander is to carry payloads for the Japanese and UAE space agencies as well as for Japanese and Canadian commercial companies.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of April 24-30, 2022
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom Space, Northrop Grumman (4/24): The House and Senate return to Washington this week to begin deliberations on a budget for the 2023 fiscal year that begins October 1. Both chambers plan separate hearings this week related to Space Situational Awareness. The Washington Space Business Roundtable will hold a virtual webinar on a new White House Strategy for In-Space Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing on Thursday at 12 p.m. EDT.

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