Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 4th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA looks to resume human launches to the International Space Station (ISS) with commercial partners, while it develops new capabilities for deep space exploration. New efforts to restore communications with the 14-year-old Opportunity rover at Mars have resumed with a new approach. NASA will observe its annual Day of Remembrance on Thursday.

Human Space Exploration

NASA, SpaceX and Boeing’s ISS program is as American as Moon pie

Coalition Member in the news – Boeing

CNET (2/1): Watch this Space examines the partnership that NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has forged with Boeing and SpaceX to restore a U.S. human space transportation capability that was lost with the shuttle program’s retirement in 201. The commercial effort’s lower costs are to help NASA and its partners resume missions of human deep space exploration.

Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to host NASA Day of Remembrance event on February 7

Orlando Sentinel (1/31): NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC( will mark the agency’s annual Day of Remembrance, a tribute to the 17 astronauts who perished in the Apollo 1 fire and shuttle Challenger and Columbia tragedies, on Thursday at the Visitor Complex and Space Mirror Memorial. The record partial U.S. government shutdown that ended January 25 forced a postponement.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will lead a tribute on Thursday as well as the Arlington National Cemetery.

Better interior design might keep astronauts healthier and happier in deep space

The Verge (2/1): Experts in health and design will be joined this week by astronauts for a discussion on how spacecraft interiors can be best developed for explorers assigned to deep space exploration missions that could span years. Mental as well as physical health could be at stake. The Translational Research Institute for Space Health is among the event’s sponsors.

Russia may launch new recruitment campaign for cosmonauts’ team

TASS of Russia (2/1): The Russian space agency is assessing a cosmonaut recruiting effort this year, one that would seek women candidates.


Space Science

A window of opportunity closes on Mars

Atlantic (2/2): NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers bounded to a landing on the Red Planet in January 2004 for what were to be 90 days missions. In 2009, Spirit became stuck in the soil and eventually went silent. Opportunity’s mission continued until late June 2018, when a global dust storm covered the rover’s solar panels that generate electricity. NASA recently initiated a new effort to resume contact, perhaps the final attempt to reach the rover after the storm subsided.  Both of the golf cart sized rovers have helped experts better understand how the Martian environment evolved.

China’s Moon lander wakes up from its long, ultra-cold night

Wired (2/1): China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft became the first to land on the Moon’s far side at Von Karman crater in early January. The feat was quickly followed by the need to prepare the lander/rover for a lengthy but temporary lunar night with extremely cold temperatures.

OSIRIS-REx finds rugged terrain on asteroid Bennu (1/31): Launched in September 2016, NASA’s Osiris-Rex asteroid sample return mission to Bennu is offering some surprises since its arrival in early December. The spinning top like planetary body is strewn with a surprising number of boulders, some quite large. That could prove a challenges as the science team searches for a spot to touchdown briefly to gather samples of soil and rock for return to Earth in September 2023. Scientists hope to learn more about how bodies like Bennu may have delivered water and organics, the building blocks of life, to Earth. The presence of water in clay minerals on the body were discovered earlier.

Oumuamua could be the debris cloud of a disintegrated interstellar comet

Universe Today (2/1): The interstellar object Oumuamua created a stir as it was first spotted moving through the solar system in late 2017. Comet? Asteroid? An interstellar spacecraft? A veteran NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientist believes the elongated object is probably from a comet.

A meteorite may have struck western Cuba, National Weather Service say

CNN (2/2): A meteorite spotted over Key West, Florida and western Cuba may be responsible for an explosion Friday afternoon.


Other News

Government shutdown may have done long-term damage to NASA (2/1): The impact of the record partial U.S. government shutdown that ended late January 25 could take a while to surface, but one potential impact that has agencies like NASA concerned is the loss of key personnel or a decision by those who would like to work for NASA to look elsewhere as a consequence. A budget continuing resolution has brought a Congress and White House divided over immigration reform together through February 15, when a shutdown could resume.

Northrop Grumman pleased with progress integrating Orbital ATK

Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, Orbital ATK (1/31): Northrop Grumman’s acquisition of Orbital Sciences ATK, announced in 2017, is going well. But as last week drew to a close, executives cautioned that a repeat of the record partial U.S. government shutdown could have a negative effect on non-Defense business, including NASA programs.

House SS&T Committee gets set for 116th Congress (1/31): The U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold an organization session this week for the new 116th Congress, with new chair U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson. The panel sets policy for NASA, NOAA and space related activities at the Department of Commerce.

SpaceHorizon wants to be Canada’s first orbital launch provider

Space Q of Canada (2/2): Canada’s SpaceHorizon is in search of investors and a launch complex as it strives to provide Canada with its first orbital launch services provider. The company plans to start with the small satellite launch market.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of February 3-9, 2019 (2/3): The U.S. House and Senate are in session this week with another possible partial government shutdown looming on February 15. President Trump delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday night. NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, a tribute to the astronauts lost in the Apollo 1 fire and the shuttle Challenger and Columbia tragedies, is planned for Thursday at the Arlington National Cemetery. Additional tributes are planned at NASA’s field centers. Additional space policy gatherings around the country are scheduled as well.

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