Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 1st, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Town Hall on Monday with Administrator Jim Bridenstine likely to feature talk of future human lunar exploration. It follows a successful NASA spacewalk on Friday to upgrade power storage batteries on the International Space Station (ISS). Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander carries a NASA contribution.  


Human Space Exploration and Policy

After suit-sizing issues sideline all-woman spacewalk, male-female team work on Space Station’s batteries

CBS (3/29): NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch teamed Friday for a seven hour spacewalk to upgrade the Station’s solar power generation system with new lithium ion batteries. Plans for the first ever all female spacewalk were changed earlier in the week when fellow astronaut Anne McClain determine she required a medium rather than a large shirt like element of the space suit called a Hard Upper Torso (HUT). Koch needed a medium HUT as well and there was only one available on the Space Station. McClain, who spacewalked with Hague on March 22 and will again on April 8 with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, consulted with NASA managers to make sure Koch got her first spacewalk opportunity. The HUT links the pants, sleeves and helmet as well as providing support for vital life support space suit components.

Grabbing hold and letting go: The exploding bolts that bring us to space

Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin

Popular Science (3/28): Lockheed Martin’s Orion crew capsule, the spacecraft that is to start humans on a new era of deep space exploration, is a collection of components from hundreds of U.S. companies, among them Connecticut’s Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense (EBAD). EBAD makes the explosive bolts that will help the spacecraft make its way from Earth with no more hardware than necessary.

Senate reintroduces Space Frontier Act (3/29): U.S. Senator Ted Cruz is leading a bipartisan effort to pass a new version of the Space Frontier Act. Introduced March 28, the legislation would reform regulation of commercial launch and remote sensing activities and authorize an extension of NASA oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) from 2024 to 2030. Other provisions that prevented passage in the U.S. House last year have been removed.


Space Science

NASA’s piggyback experiment on Israeli Moon lander could aid future lunar touchdowns (3/31): Israel’s Beresheet lunar lander, launched February 21, is on a trajectory to land in the Moon’s northern hemisphere on April 11. NASA made a small addition, a laser reflector, which will be evaluated by the agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Dotting the Moon with more of the reflectors in the future could serve as a guidance aide for spacecraft, including human spacecraft, in making pinpoint landings across the lunar terrain.

ExoPlanet satellite ready 

European Space Agency (3/31): After five years of development, ESA’s Cheops, a satellite to study the characteristics of planets beyond the solar system, should be ready to launch late this year from French Guiana. The mission’s primary focus will be on Earth to Neptune sized planets to determine their mass and composition.


Other News 

The first space-worthy Vulcan rocket is taking shape

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance

Ars Technica (3/29): At facilities in Decatur, Alabama, flight elements of the new United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket are beginning to roll off the production line. This United Launch Alliance (ULA) successor to the Atlas V and Delta IV could be launching by 2021.

Smithsonian debuts Apollo 11 ’50 Years from Tranquility Base’ exhibit (3/29): This year, the space community is marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, which unfolded on July 20, 1969. Equipment and artifacts from the historic mission and its crew, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are now on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Japan, U.S. to collaborate on space surveillance

Mainichi of Japan (3/30): Japan and the U.S. plan to cooperate on future national security space surveillance, including the tracking of third party satellites and space debris.

China launches new data relay satellite

Xinhuanet of China (4/1): Launched late Sunday atop a Long March 3B rocket, China’s Tianlian II-01 satellite is to provide tracking and data relay support for future crewed mission, satellites and rockets.

Indian military satellite, 20 more planet imaging CubeSats launched by PSLV (4/1): India’s latest Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle mission placed a military electronic surveillance satellite and a variety of 28 small satellites into orbit on Monday.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of March 31 to April 6, 2019 (3/31): The U.S. House and Senate are in session, with a number of committee hearings on civil, commercial and national security space budgets and plans scheduled. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine plans a Town Hall with agency employees on Monday. A likely topic is direction from National Space Council Chair and Vice President Mike Pence last week to return human explorers to the lunar surface by 2024. The Town Hall on Monday at 1:30 p.m., EDT, which will be broadcast on NASA TV and streamed live on


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