Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 25th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Draft budget documents suggest Trump administration support for the International Space Station could end by 2025. NASA marks annual Day of Remembrance. GOLD launch will debut NASA “ride share” science mission strategy. SpaceX fires Falcon Heavy first stage in pre-launch test.

Human Space Exploration

Trump administration wants to end NASA funding for the International Space Station by 2025

The Verge (1/24): The Trump administration is preparing to end financial support for the NASA led, 15 nation International Space Station, according to the publication’s assessment of draft documents. Under current legislation and partner agreements, ISS operations are to conclude in 2024. Engineering assessments suggest the six person orbiting laboratory could operate longer.

NASA, U.S. Navy practice spacecraft recovery at sea

Marine Link (1/24) U.S. Navy recovery personnel and NASA are currently working on procedures for the recovery of the Orion crew capsule assigned to Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first joint test flight of Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS), planned between late 2019 and mid-2020. The uncrewed capsule is to travel around the moon and return to Earth for a Pacific Ocean splashdown. The joint exercise currently underway began with the departure of the USS Anchorage from the Naval Base San Diego on January 17.

NASA’S 2018 Day of Remembrance honors fallen astronauts (1/25): Tributes to NASA’s Columbia, Challenger and Apollo 1 astronauts are planned today at the Arlington National Cemetery and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The agency’s annual Day of Remembrance recalls the 17 astronauts that perished in the three tragedies of 2003, 1986 and 1967 and their contributions to human space exploration. Four who died as part of the X-15 test program will be honored this year as well.


Space Science

NASA could detect alien life on other worlds using a telescope-powered ‘sniff test’

Business Insider (1/24): Powerful space telescopes, like the James Webb that NASA is preparing to launch between late March and June of 2019, could help to find evidence of life beyond Earth. Equipped with spectrographs, those observatories can identify “bio markers,” or gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane, on planets likely to have liquid water on their surfaces to help narrow the search.

NASA GOLD mission to image Earth’s interface to space

NASA/Goddard (1/24): NASA’s GOLD mission, scheduled to launch late Thursday from French Guiana, is to break ground on two fronts by observing interactions between the Earth’s low altitude weather and upper altitude solar interactions within the ionosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field. It also represents a NASA science milestone in partnering with a commercial satellite company to reach geosynchronous orbit at a lower cost.  Launch is scheduled during a window that opens at 5:20 p.m., EST and closes at 6:05 p.m., EST.

The solar eclipse caused a bow wave in Earth’s atmosphere

Universe Today (1/23): The widely followed August 2017 total solar eclipse produced a predicted thermal wave across the Earth’s upper atmosphere over the region of totality. Scientists at MIT used data from the nation’s Global Positioning Satellite System constellation to verify pre-eclipse predictions.


Other News

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket roars to life during test fire at KSC

Florida Today (1/24): Hawthorne, California based SpaceX ignited its Falcon Heavy rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a 12 second test firing on Wednesday at midday. The much anticipated test sets the stage for the first launch of the big rocket. Though a date has not been announced, it may follow in a week or so, according to company CEO Elon Musk.

China’s first successful lunar laser ranging accomplished

Xinhuanet of China (1/24): NASA’s Apollo 15 astronauts left a reflector on the lunar surface during their 1971 explorations of the Hadley Rille/Apennine region. Three days ago, a Chinese observatory used its laser range finder and the lunar reflector to precisely measure the distance between the two, a demonstration of a technology exercised previously only by the U.S., France and Italy. China plans to carry out the first soft landing on the moon’s far side with a robotic spacecraft later this year.

Successful first test for the Ariane 6 Vulcain engine (1/23): DLR, the German Aerospace Center, hosted a successful test firing of the Vulcain 2.1 rocket engine that is to power first stage of Europe’s new Ariane 6 launch vehicle. An inaugural launch is planned for 2020.

China’s fifth launch of January puts three Yaogan-30 reconnaissance satellites and NanoSat-1A in orbit

GB Times of Finland (1/25): A Chinese Long March 2C rocket successfully placed a cluster of reconnaissance satellites and a small sat experiment in orbit on Thursday. It was the nation’s fifth rocket launch of 2018.

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