Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 7th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… China’s readied the launch Friday of the first lander/rover planetary science mission to the Moon’s far side. The U.S. House and Senate offered the White House an alternative shut down for a range of federal agencies without 2019 budgets, including NASA and NOAA. The President must sign by Friday at midnight.

Human Space Exploration

NASA sends new research, hardware to Space Station on SpaceX mission (12/5):  Experiments in forest observation, protein crystal growth and in-space fuel transfer demonstration are heading to the International Space Station (ISS) following the launch Wednesday of SpaceX’s 16th mission for NASA under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The company’s Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 1:16 p.m. EST on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It’s carrying more than 5,600 pounds of research equipment, cargo and supplies that will support the crew, Station maintenance and dozens of the more than 250 investigations aboard the Space Station.

Move over, Elon: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg ‘absolutely’ would go to Mars

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (12/6): SpaceX founder Elon Musk has announced himself prepared to voyage to Mars, even one way. Thursday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg offered support for the White House human deep space exploration goal of establishing a sustained human presence at the Moon, then traveling on to Mars. The Boeing exec, however, told the Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit, he envisions the Mars explorations as round trip.

Cabinet approves MoU between India and Russia on joint activities under human spaceflight programme

Bangalore Mirror (12/7): The Union Cabinet has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Russia on joint activities under human spaceflight programme or Gaganyaan which India plans to launch by 2022.


Space Science

China preps for launch of historic mission to Moon’s far side on Friday (12/7): China’s Chang’e-4 mission, the first ever to attempt at a soft landing on the Moon’s far side, is set for launch on Friday at 1:30 p.m., EST, initiating a 27 day mission to its destination with a lander and rover. The objectives include an assessment of the Moon’s far side as a site for an interference free radio observatory and to assess the soil composition.

Planetary Defense: The Bennu experiment

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (12/6): NASA’s Osiris Rex asteroid sample return mission reached its destination on Monday. Close-up studies of the asteroid Bennu promise to advance the world’s ability to avoid devastating asteroid impacts in the future, a field called Planetary Defense. Scientists estimate the Earth orbiting crossing asteroid has a 1/2,700 chance of striking the Earth between 2175 and 2196.

What human beings can teach aliens about probing the Solar System

Popular Mechanics (12/5): NASA’s robotic spacecraft, Mars InSight and Osiris Rex, are advancing scientific efforts on two fronts to understand how life emerged in the 4.5 billion year old solar system. On Monday, Osiris Rex arrived at its sample return destination, the asteroid Bennu, only days after InSight touched down on Mars. Osiris-Rex is in search of the processes that brought the ingredients for life to Earth. InSight is seeking new clues into the long ago internal changes on Mars that turned the once warm and wet planet into a cold, dry desert like realm that may still hold clues to the emergence of alien light forms.

The most powerful ion drive in space is ready for its visit to Mercury (12/6): The European Space Agency’s BepiColumbo mission, launched to the planet Mercury on October 19 successfully demonstrated is powerful electric ion propulsion drive during mission critical maneuvers on December 2. A pair of science orbiters are to reach Mercury in 2025.


Other News

Griffin: Pentagon ‘scrambling’ to figure out space reorganization (12/6): During a U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted summit on the future of the space industry, a key Pentagon representative said it’s unclear how a new branch of the Pentagon called the Space Development Agency might be organized to help develop new space technologies. The guest was Mike Griffin, the Defense Department undersecretary for research and engineering.

Congress clears bill to fund government through December 21 (12/6): The U.S. House and Senate on Thursday approved House Joint Resolution 143, an extension of the current budget resolution set to expire Friday at midnight to December 21. President Trump was expected to sign the measure, which prevents a number of federal agencies from confronting a shutdown, including NASA and NOAA. Congress and the White House were unable to agree on a spending plan for the 2019 fiscal year, which began October 1. There is sharp disagreement over the $5 billion the President is seeking for the construction of a border wall with Mexico as part of the Homeland Security part of the overall budget.

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