Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 25th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The White House National Space Council gathers Tuesday to continue discuss of human lunar exploration plans. Blue Origin unveils plans for a rocket production facility expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Human Space Exploration

Political pressure grows on NASA’s lunar program (3/24): The White House National Space Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday in Huntsville, Alabama, home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, with a key topic being frustration over the pace of the agency’s efforts to make a sustained return to the lunar surface with human explorers, according to comments from participants expressed ahead of the meeting.

Spacewalkers hook up new batteries outside International Space Station (ISS) (3/22): NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Nick Hague teamed up on Friday for a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) in which they continued a battery upgrade that began in early 2017 and is slated to continue for another year. The upgrade involves exchanging 24 new lithium ion batteries for 48 aging nickel hydrogen batteries in waves that involve 6 of the higher technology lithium ion units for 12 of the nickel hydrogen units. McClain is to be joined by fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch this Friday to the latest 6 for 12 battery exchange.

The risk of Apollo: Astronauts swap harrowing tales from NASA’s Moon shots (3/22): A recent gathering of the Explorers Club in New York provided a forum for NASA’s Apollo astronauts to reminisce about the adventure and risks they embraced to reach the Moon’s surface with six missions in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The 50th anniversary of the first human Moon landing, Apollo 11 is approaching in July. The late Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on July 20, 1969.


Space Science

2020 Mars helicopter could open alien skies to exploration (3/23): NASA is hopeful that its Mars 2020 rover mission, scheduled for launch in July 2020, will include a demonstration for a helicopter drone. At some future point, such a technology could serve as a scout for robotic, even human missions focused on the exploration of Mars.

NASA may send a smallsat mission to the giant asteroid Pallas (3/21): The main belt asteroid Pallas is considered a “proto planet,” and NASA is considering a less expensive, small satellite mission called Athena to the asteroid that could be much like the agency’s successful Dawn mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. Scientists believe Athena could reveal new insight into how water and multiple impacts on such bodies helped to shape early planet formation in the solar system.

NASA engineer suggests settling Saturn’s moon Titan

The Hill (3/22): One NASA visionary has raised the possibility of a human settlement at Titan, the solar system’s second largest moon. A satellite of Saturn, Titan features a thick atmosphere, mostly comprised of nitrogen and methane. Its surface consists of rock and water ice, with rivers, lakes, and even seas of liquid methane. The water could be mined and the thick atmosphere would provide protection from radiation for those on the surface, though the environment is quite cold and far from the Earth. 


Other News

Blue Origin is expanding its already massive New Glenn rocket factory at Kennedy Space Center (KSC)

Florida Today (3/22): Seattle area based Blue Origin plans to expand the grounds around its rocket production factory for the New Glenn at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The expansion will include room for manufacturing as well as warehouse space and roadways.

Blue Origin studying repurposing of New Glenn upper stages

Coalition Member in the News – NanoRacks (3/21): Blue Origin and NanoRacks are two U.S. companies that have studied possible new missions for the second stages of rockets such as the New Glenn once they are in orbit. Those secondary functions include serving as human habitation and manufacturing facilities. Representatives from the two companies participating in NASA contracted studies underway since last August discussed the prospects last week at the American Astronautical Society’s (AAS) Goddard Memorial Symposium in Silver Spring, Maryland.

SpaceX cleared for more testing; FAA restricts air space for Boca Chica activity

Brownsville Herald of Texas (3/23); The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is posting notice of restricted air space at SpaceX facilities near Boca Chica in South Texas for tests of the company’s Starship Hopper prototype.


Major Space Relate Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of March 24-30, 2019 (3/24): The U.S. House and Senate begin appropriations and authorization hearings on military as well as civil and commercial space activities this week. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is to appear before the House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, the White House National Space Council is to convene in Huntsville, Alabama, with the urgency of NASA’s sustained human return to the lunar surface among the topics. On Friday, NASA astronauts Anne McClain, a U.S. Army pilot, and Christina Koch, an electrical engineer, will conduct a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a storage battery upgrade to the Station’s solar power generation system. The six to seven hour spacewalk will mark the first ever by two women.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.