Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 14th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Strides in space anticipated for 2019, though many involved are dealing with an early partial U.S. government shutdown and plans by SpaceX to reduce its commercial workforce. An International Space Station (ISS) cargo mission returned to Earth early Monday. NASA’s Mars InSight lander powers up its seismic sensor to study the Red Planet’s internal activities.

Human Space Exploration

Why 2019 is shaping up to be a stellar year for space exploration

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Washington Post (1/11): Here’s why: NASA is working with Boeing and SpaceX under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program to restart launches of astronauts from U.S. soil, the first since the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. Commercial suborbital passenger spaceflight may commence this year as well. At the same time, NASA is pressing toward a sustained human presence at the Moon with development of the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System (SLS) as well as plans for a human tended, lunar orbiting Gateway.

Dragon cargo craft returns to Earth (1/14): Launched December 5, SpaceX’s 16th NASA contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) returned to Earth early Monday, splashing down under parachute in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern California. Aboard were nearly two tons of science experiments and equipment loaded aboard by the Station’s crew for recovery and return to port in the Los Angeles area.

Russian space agency gets NASA’s letter on revoking invitation for Roscosmos chief

TASS of Russia (1/11): Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, has been formally notified by letter that an invitation from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to visit the U.S. has been rescinded. Bridenstine told the Washington Post in an earlier interview an invitation extended to Rogozin in October in Russia to visit the U.S. in 2019 was being rescinded because of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and objections from some members of Congress to making an exception. Rogozin says the two leaders need to discuss future interactions between the two space agencies.


Space Science 

NASA’s InSight lander on Mars is now hunting for Marsquakes (1/11): The Mars InSight team reports the lander’s French Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure is functioning and providing data on the Martian surface. The NASA mission landed on November 26. An electronic power tether was deployed on January 6.

Astronomers discover the brightest quasar ever discovered

Cosmos Magazine (1/14): Astronomers from the University of Arizona using the Hubble space telescope have discovered the brightest quasar yet, a dense stellar object that formed within the first 1 billion years of the universe and shines 600 trillion times brighter than the sun. The distant object was exposed with the help of gravitational lensing.

‘Sub-Saturns’ may force scientists to revise idea of how planets form (1/12): Understanding the complex processes by which planets form may be crucial to identifying which planets across the universe are best suited to host some form of life. Scientists discussed the challenge at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference held last week in Seattle.

Russian space telescope not responding to Earth’s command

TASS of Russia (1/13): Russia’s space radio telescope, Spektr-R, has stopped responding to ground commands, a setback controllers are trying to overcome. The observatory was launched in 2011.

Other News

SpaceX laying off 10 percent of its workforce (1/11): Hawthorne, California, based SpaceX announced January 11 the company is laying off 10 percent of its workforce, or about 600 workers, to provide capital for future rocket and satellite development efforts.

Houston federal workers feeling the strain of government shutdown

KTRK-TV (1/11) From the U.S. Coast Guard to NASA, the partial U.S. government shutdown underway since December 22 is taking its toll on furloughed workers and those working without pay.

Blood Moon 2019: A great total lunar eclipse is coming soon! (1/11): Sunday, January 20, brings a total lunar eclipse that can be viewed across the continental U.S. where cloud conditions permit. The Earth’s shadow begins to fall across the Moon at 9:36 p.m., EST, with the Moon emerging on Monday at 2:48 a.m., EST. Totality begins at 11:41 p.m., EST, and ends on Monday at 12:43 a.m., EST.

SpaceX launches first rocket of the year from Vandenberg Air Force Base

Lompoc Record of California (1/11): Vandenberg Air Force Base’s first hosted launch of 2019 was a SpaceX Falcon 9 with 10 Iridium satellites, completing the company’s latest communications network.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of January 13-19, 2019 (1/13): The partial U.S. government shutdown, which commenced December 22, continues into its 4th week with little sign of a conclusion. NASA workers are among those furloughed unless involved in essential activities, such as watching over the International Space Station (ISS). The U.S. House and Senate are scheduled to be in session this week.

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