Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 6th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The outcome of Tuesday’s U.S. Congressional elections could alter the makeup of the House and Senate panels responsible for NASA appropriations and policy. Might Ceres lure justify a Dawn II mission?  With NASA’s Mars bound InSight lander, it’s all about the underground.


Human Space Exploration

Flight controllers for first four Space Launch System (SLS) missions delivered to Stennis

Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell (11/5): Honeywell supplied flight controllers for the RS-25 rocket engines that will power the core stage of the first NASA Space Launch System (SLS) missions are now in the hands of Aerojet Rocketdyne. Aerojet now has 18 of the controllers. Each SLS first stage is powered by four Aerojet RS-25s, which are a much updated version of the rocket engines that powered the space shuttle. Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first uncrewed joint test flight of NASA’s Orion crew capsule and the SLS is planned by mid-2020.

No to a cheap lunar Gateway

Space Review (11/5): An op-ed assessment of NASA’s human tended, lunar orbiting Gateway urges a structure with more permanence than the International Space Station (ISS), which the space agency intends to cease direct financial support of by 2025. The Gateway’s long term future could be assured through either robust initial engineering or a strategy to replace modules and components as they age, either requiring a greater financial commitment, writes Taylor Dinerman.

Racing China to the high frontier

Space Review (10/5): During the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, the U.S. prevailed with the Apollo Moon landings. A new race to return to the Moon between the U.S., with its international and commercial partners including Russia, and China represents a different contest, one in which Beijing is focused on assuring only it prevails, according to an assessment from Mark Whittington.


Space Science

Now that Dawn is history, should NASA send another mission to Ceres? (11/5): NASA’s Dawn mission to the large asteroids Vesta and Ceres came to a close last week as the spacecraft launched in 2007 ran out of fuel, while still orbiting Ceres. Some scientists would like to return to Ceres, which revealed evidence of water ice, organics and hydrothermal activity, all signs of a potentially habitable environment. One proposal would send a new orbiter and a lander/rover to explore a large impact crater.

The Mars InSight landing site is just plain perfect

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (11/5): Elysium Planitia, the red planet target for NASA’s Mars InSight lander, which is to touchdown on November 26, is not much to look at. But that is not where InSight’s attention is focused. InSight’s focus is on the Martian subsurface, whether the planet has a core; the thermal profile; and whether there are tremors and other signs of geophysical activity. The underground is a dimension of Mars that has not been explored.


Other News 

Key Congressional races to watch on Tuesday (11/6): A number of close races for U.S. House and Senate seats are predicted in Tuesday’s mid-term congressional elections. The outcomes could mean changes for who sits and leads committees that appropriate and set U.S. space policy on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Voters will determine 435 House seats and 35 of those in the Senate.

At small satellite conference, frustration about lagging efforts to deal with space junk (11/5): Participants in the Small Satellites and Disruptive Technology Focus Day conference expressed frustration Monday over a lack of coordinated efforts to address the mounting amounts of man-made debris in Earth orbit and the hazard it poses to future commercial space development. A response may require satellite operators to include strategies to dispose of their non-functioning space hardware. The Surrey Space Center is leading one such initiative with a recent experiment, Remove Debris, that was deployed from the International Space Station (ISS).

Luxembourg government to continue commercial space initiatives after election (11/5): Luxembourg’s recent initiative to lure and nurture commercial space enterprises is unlikely to be changed by the outcome of October 14 parliamentary elections. Pierre Franck, consul general and executive director of the Luxembourg Trade and Investment Office in San Francisco, offered the reassurance as part of the International Moon Village Workshop & Symposium in Los Angeles on Sunday.

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