March 8th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s SpaceX Demo-1, uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) was drawing to a close early Friday. China’s space station elements are to reach their launch site during the second half of 2019. Apollo remembered. What’s next in the search for life on Mars?

Human Space Exploration

Live coverage: Crew Dragon capsule undocks from Space Station, heads for home

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (3/8): The NASA Commercial Crew Program’s first test flight to the International Space Station (ISS), Demo-1, featuring a six day round trip by SpaceX’s Crew Dragon without astronauts neared a conclusion early Friday. The spacecraft with a human test mannequin laced with sensors named Ripley launched March 2 and carried out an automated docking with the Station early March 3. On Friday at 2:31 a.m., EST, the capsule departed the Station for an atmospheric descent and splashdown under parachute into the Atlantic Ocean, northeast of its Cape Canaveral, Florida, launch site, where recovery vessels were waiting. The website features updates as the return nears.

Boeing preps for upcoming Starliner test flight to Space Station

Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance (3/7): As the NASA Commercial Crew program’s first milestone uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) with SpaceX drew to a close early Friday, the Commercial Crew program was preparing for the first test flight of its second commercial partner, Boeing and the CST-100 Starliner. The uncrewed Starliner mission to the Space Station could launch as soon as April from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V.

Look inside Lockheed Martin’s finished prototype of where astronauts may live in deep space

Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin

Orlando Sentinel (3/7): At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Lockheed Martin has assembled a prototype for a deep space habitat. The structure, assembled under a NASA NEXTstep contract, is cozy and cylindrical, about 13 feet by 8 feet and equipped for four astronauts. Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp.’s Space Systems, Orbital ATK, Bigelow Aerospace and NanoRacks are undertaking similar efforts. A habitat would become an integral part of NASA’s Gateway, a human tended, lunar orbiting space station envisioned for assembly in low Earth orbit during the 2020s.

Mission Moon: Apollo 11 lunar landing leaves lasting legacy 50 years later

Houston Chronicle (3/7): 2019 could be a milestone year for NASA, as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July, while planning a sustained human return to the lunar surface with commercial and international partners. But challenges loom, political and financial. Next destinations have shifted from the Moon to Mars and now the Moon first and then Mars in response to changes in administration. Then there is embracing the risk and addressing the financial requirements.

House Space Subcommittee chair weighs in on America’s future in space (3/6): U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, the new chair of the U.S. House Science Subcommittee, promises a close look and discussion on the risks associated with anticipated new commercial space activities, including passenger flights, satellite repairs and lunar surface activities.

China preparing for space station missions

Xinhuanet (3/4): The core module and experiments for China’s planned space station are to join with a Long March-5B carrier rocket at the Wenchang Space Launch Center during the latter half of this year. Construction of the Earth orbiting lab is to be complete in 2022.  Additional experiment modules, also to be launched with the Long March-5B, are under development.

Toyota to build lunar rover as Japan tries to land astronaut on Moon

SkyNews of the U.K. (3/6): There will be more to come, but the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is partnering with the car company Toyota to fashion a lunar rover. JAXA plans to reach the Moon with astronauts by 2030.


Space Science

Is there life on Mars? Let’s assess the evidence

Cosmos (3/8): Years of Martian reconnaissance with telescopes as well as orbiters and landers, most of them developed by NASA, point to the presence of at least scattered once habitable environments on the Red Planet. The question is whether they persisted long enough for some form of life, even single celled organisms, to develop. The evidence may have been preserved in the Martian rock and soil, a current focus of study.


Other News 

Exclusive interview: Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

Buying Business Travel (3/7): Whitesides sees suborbital commercial space flight as a possible alternative to existing intercontinental jet travel, as well as a platform for the enlightening experience of looking back at the Earth from space.

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