Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 12th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) underscores the need for safety as the agency’s Commercial Crew Program prepares for test flights of the new Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. Congress and the White House may be close to a deal that would avert another partial government shutdown on Friday.


Human Space Exploration

NASA safety panel urges vigilance as U.S. resumes human space launches

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (2/11): NASA is preparing to launch astronauts from U.S. soil this year for the first time since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in 2011 through the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, whose partners include Boeing and SpaceX. Their respective CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon are to launch without astronauts and then with astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a certification process. NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), in its latest annual report, made public last Friday, urges NASA to remain attentive to the inherent risks of spaceflight in the face of cost and schedule pressures. That same vigilance applies to efforts to resume U.S. human deep space exploration with Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS), according to the independent ASAP panel. ASAP was established in the aftermath of the 1967 Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of three astronauts.

Astronauts install Tethers Unlimited’s 3-D printer plus recycler on Space Station (2/8): Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are experimenting with the Tethers Unlimited’s Refabricator, a device developed by the Bothell Washington firm, to recycle plastic in space as a feed stock for a 3-D printer. The device offers a prospective resource for astronauts assigned to exploration initiatives far from Earth, absent frequent re-supply opportunities and lasting for long duration.

Mars One company goes bankrupt (2/11): Mars One Ventures, the for profit arm of Mars One, the European nonprofit that envisioned a global effort to colonize Mars, has filed for bankruptcy in Switzerland and is undergoing liquidation, according to the report. The future of the endeavor is unclear.


Space Science

NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft shrinking its Mars orbit to prepare for Mars 2020 rover

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (2/11): NASA’s Maven spacecraft has been studying the Martian atmosphere and interactions with the solar wind since maneuvering into orbit in September 2014. Maven is now taking on a second task by maneuvering to a lower altitude orbit to act as a communications relay for the Mars 2020 rover, which is to launch in mid-2020. After landing at Jezero crater on Mars, the rover is to collect and cache samples of the rock and soil for eventual return to Earth. NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working on a strategy for the return of samples that could reveal more about past and possibly present habitable environments on Mars.

Chang’e-4 powers down for second lunar night (2/11): China’s lunar far side Chang’e 4 lander and rover has powered down for a second time since a January 3 landing at the South Pole Aitken Basin. The power down is in response to the start of a two week lunar night. Rover and lander operations are expected to resume on February 28 and March 1 respectfully. All science instrumentation is functional, according to the China Lunar Exploration Program.

Geologists figured out where the most remote part of the ocean came from (2/11): The most remote region of the Earth’s oceans hails from a remote region near the Antarctic and south of New Zealand, according to a study first published in the journal Live Science. A Korean ice breaker is credited with dredging up the mystery material.


Other News

Negotiators reach deal ‘in principle’ to avert shutdown: The agreement represents a remarkable turnaround within 24 hours.

Politico (2/11): Late Monday, Democrat and Republican members of Congress expressed an optimism that a second partial U.S. government shutdown as soon as Friday can be avoided through a budget agreement that addresses at least some White House immigration concerns. A 35-day partial shutdown affecting an estimated 800,000 federal workers, plus government contractors ended on January 25, with hope of avoiding a repeat on February 15, when a brief budget continuing resolution expires.

Building a better booster (part 1)

Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance

The Space Review (2/11): A look at the challenges faced by Northrop Grumman as it develops a solid rocket booster for the United Launch Alliances (ULA) Atlas and Vulcan rockets. They included expectations of high performance and the integration of high tech materials, constraints on size as well as a template to address the needs of existing and planned launch vehicles, writes Jeffrey Smith, a propulsion engineer.

Second Iranian satellite launch attempt in a month fails (2/11): An Iranian satellite launch attempt, apparently last week, appears to have failed, images of the launch site gathered by DigitalGlobe and Planet suggest.

Campaign launched to ‘revive the Saturn V’ vertical rocket replica via (2/11): Huntsville, Alabama’s U.S. Space and Rocket Center has launched a campaign to restore its standing Saturn V rocket replica to its original condition ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, which is approaching in July. The 10 week campaign seeks to raise $1.3 million for the timely restoration. The Saturn V was manufactured at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

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