Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 21st, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s Orion abort test has been rescheduled from April to June because of the record December/January partial U.S. government shutdown. Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft descended toward the surface of the asteroid Ryugu on Thursday, prepared to land briefly for a challenging sample collection attempt. 

Human Space Exploration

Government shutdown causes two month delay for test of Orion’s emergency system

Houston Chronicle (2/20): NASA’s planned Orion Assent Abort-2 test has been rescheduled for June, a two month setback, due to the recently ended record 35 day partial U.S. government shutdown. The uncrewed Orion launch, reset for June 12, is to test a crew escape system design to lift Orion and its astronauts away from the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket should an emergency arise in flight as well as on the launch pad.

New international Moon/Mars mission launched at HI-SEAS habitat

University of Hawaii (2/19): A two seek simulation of a future human exploration mission to the Moon or Mars is underway this week at the University of Hawaii’s Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Research efforts underway by a crew of six include geological and drone surveys, lava tube exploration and space technology testing.


Space Science

Japanese spacecraft to attempt landing on distant asteroid.

Associated Press via ABC (2/21): The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission spacecraft was descending toward the surface of its target, the asteroid Ryugu, Thursday. A brief touchdown early Friday, Japan Standard Time, was to mark the first attempt to gather bits of the asteroid for return to Earth in late 2020. Scientists believe studies of the material could help explain how planets like Earth formed with water and organics, the building blocks for life.

We’re ‘well on our way’ to discovering alien life, NASA Chief says (2/20): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at a gathering to recognize the end of NASA’s Opportunity rover operations at Mars, when he predicted that his agency is close to confirming the presence of extraterrestrial life, perhaps on the Red Planet. Opportunity’s mission, originally slated for 90 days in 2004, continued through mid-2018 and included the discovery of evidence of past habitable environments on Mars.

Signs of ancient flowing water on Mars

European Space Agency (2/21): Recent image from the agency’s Mars Express orbiter shows evidence of past flowing water in an ancient river valley network on the now cold and dry Red Planet. 

Did you know the Earth’s atmosphere extends beyond the orbit of the Moon?

Universe Today (2/20): The Earth/space boundary has been a topic of study for a long time. A new study from Russia’s Space Research Institute suggests the planet’s atmosphere may extend out nearly 400,000 miles, or more than 630,000 kilometers, which is well beyond the orbit of the Moon. Findings are based on data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a joint European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA space sentry.


Other News

New House space subcommittee chair plans to address commercial space issues (2/19): U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, of Oklahoma, now chairs the U.S. House Science Committee’s space subcommittee. In remarks during the recent Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, Horn pledged to work with the U.S. commercial space community on issues, including satellite servicing and lunar missions. Serving her first term, Horn’s background includes work for the Space Foundation.

Air Force awards $739 million in launch contracts to ULA and SpaceX

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (2/20): The contracts awarded to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for $441.76 million and SpaceX for $297 million cover launch services for six national security payloads.

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