Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 9th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Talk at the annual Space Symposium, underway this week in Colorado Springs, turns to an accelerated human return to the surface of the Moon and the national security role of a new U.S. Space Corps. 

Human Space Exploration

Moon 2024: Sirangelo takes charge of strategy and plans, Space Council UAG plans “red team” analysis (4/8): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Monday named Mark Sirangelo, a former Sierra Nevada Corp. executive, as a special assistant assigned to develop a plan and strategy for returning human explorers to the Moon’s surface by 2024, a goal outlined by Vice President Mike Pence on March 26. Sirangelo’s responsibilities include an agency restructuring to establish a Moon to Mars Mission Directorate.

Advisory group seeks role evaluating NASA’s lunar plans (4/9): During a meeting Monday at the opening of the annual Space Symposium, the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group (UAG) proposed and discussed a plan to form a task force “red team” to appraise NASA’s exploration initiative, one that is to accelerate the return of human explorers to the lunar surface by 2024. Earlier, members of the user’s group had voiced concerns that NASA’s plans to return by 2028 lacked urgency.

U.S. space dominance dominates 35th Space Symposium agenda (4/8): Dominance, as exemplified by the Trump Administration’s call for the U.S. to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers by 2024 and to establish an independent branch of the military called the Space Corps, is the topic likely to draw the most interest during the annual Space Symposium underway this week in Colorado Springs. Speakers include NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and European Space Agency (ESA) director general Jan Woerner.

Astronauts venture outside for more battery work, cable installations (4/8): U.S. and Canadian astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques teamed Monday for a 6 /12 hour spacewalk outside in the International Space Station (ISS) to advance a power storage battery upgrade as well as extend ethernet and power cables to increase wireless communications and provide a backup power source for the Station’s Canadian robot arm. The robot arm is to complete the final steps in the replacement of a dozen aging nickel hydrogen batteries on the Station’s solar power truss with six lithium ion units. One of the new lithium ion batteries failed a post March 22 spacewalk check out and is being temporarily replaced by two nickel hydrogen units, one by the robot arm before the third spacewalk and the second after spacewalk preparations by McClain and Saint-Jacques.

Astronaut Hall of Fame adds shuttle fliers Jim Buchli, Janet Kavandi (4/8): In ceremonies Saturday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC), former NASA astronauts Janet Kavanti and Jim Buchli were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. Kavanti, a three time space shuttle crew member, now serves as director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. Buchli, who flew four times on the space shuttle, is retired. Both expressed enthusiasm for NASA’s plans to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon by 2024.


Space Science

Science, commerce, and the Moon

The Space Review (4/8): Israel IL’s Beresheet lander, a onetime Google Lunar X-Prize contender, is to attempt a landing on the Moon Thursday, following its launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in February. Changes in plans late in the mission preparations led to the addition of science payloads, including the first in a new generation of NASA retro reflectors. Beresheet appears to be at the forefront of an emerging era of cooperative lunar commercial and science activities, unfolding just as NASA has been directed to move up the return of human explorers to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024 in partnership with the U.S. private sector and global partners.


Other News

New opportunities emerging for U.S. – China space cooperation (4/8): Despite legislative restrictions, there are opportunities for the U.S. and China to cooperate on limited space fronts. But there are some who believe it may be time for revisions to increase the opportunities, according to Mike Gold, chairman of the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, who spoke during a discussion hosted by the Secure World Foundation. The committee advises the Department of Transportation (DOT) and FAA.

India’s ASAT test and changing perceptions of space warfare

The Space Review (4/8): India’s late March anti-satellite test prompted scant criticism other than NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s expression of disgust over the increase in risk to occupants of the International Space Station (ISS) from the satellite debris caused by the missile strike. NASA’s concerns may have been over stated because most of the debris fell across a low altitude orbit and will burn up as the fragments re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere relatively soon, according to an op-ed from Taylor Dinerman, whose interests include space policy and national security. India’s Mission Shakti was more likely a symbol of its resolve to signal its neighbors of its intent to become a global space power, he adds.

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