Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 22nd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Trump Administration wants to get American back the Moon by 2024. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program experienced a possible setback Saturday when SpaceX Crew Dragon flight test hardware exploded during ground preparations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. No injuries were reported.

Policy and Budget

Trump wants to get us back to the Moon
National Review (4/17): The Trump administration has announced that it wants to get America back to the moon by 2024, the last year of a putative second Trump term. It looks to be quite a challenge, but there are a few realities that just might allow this administration to pull it off. But can the space industry stop its bickering long enough to make it happen?


Human Space Exploration 

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft suffers anomaly during ground tests

Space News (4/20): SpaceX experienced an anomaly of a SuperDraco thruster Saturday afternoon during a test of Crew Dragon abort system hardware at Landing Zone 1 of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla, a setback in efforts by the company to proceed with a first ever Crew Dragon launch with astronauts on board later this year. SpaceX is one of two NASA Commercial Crew Program partners attempting to restore a U.S. human launch capability lost when the shuttle was retired in 2011.

Smoke seen for miles as SpaceX Crew Dragon suffers anomaly at Cape Canaveral

Florida Today (4/21): There were no injuries associated with a SpaceX Crew Dragon thruster anomaly during ground tests Saturday afternoon at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., The incident generated a smoke plume visible for miles in the region.

NASA’s new flying robots: Bee-in in space for the first time 

NASA (4/16): Bees are known to be both busy and hard-working, and NASA’s new free-flying space robots, called Astrobee, will soon have the same reputation. Unlike bees that live on Earth, the robots will do their work flying alongside astronauts inside the International Space Station and will play a critical role in supporting innovative and sustainable exploration of the Moon, Mars and beyond.


Space Science

NASA is working on a camera that could save humanity from extinction

Quartz (4/20): Discussion over the best techniques for further discovery and tracking of Near Earth Objects, or asteroids that pose a collision threat to the Earth with potentially severe consequences, continues.  While NASA has met a goal of identifying objects 1 kilometer and larger that post an impact threat, direction from Congress in 2005 to locate 90 percent of NEOs 140 meters, or 460 feet , and larger by 2020 will go unfulfilled. NASA has a space observatory design for the task, NEOCam. But a launch date is uncertain.

Tiny Mercury may have a solid metallic core that rivals Earth’s (4/19): Recent findings from NASA’s Messenger mission, which orbited planet Mercury between 2011 and 2015, suggests the planet closest to the sun has a large solid inner core about 1,260 miles across, compared to the Earth’s 1,500 mile wide solid inner core. The findings were published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Nepal launches its first satellite from USA
Economic Times (4/18): Nepal on Thursday successfully launched its first satellite NepaliSat-1 into space from America, evoking unbridled excitement among the people and scientists. The satellite developed by the Nepalese scientists was launched at 2:31 am (Nepal time) from Virginia in United States, according to Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).


Other News

Beyond Prime: Inside the race to deliver shipments to the Moon
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic, United Launch Alliance
OneZero by Medium (4/17): In early 2019, Israeli organization SpaceIL launched a small spacecraft named Beresheet from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a simple mission: to become the first private spacecraft to land on the moon. With just 19 employees, Astrobotic’s ambitions are ripped from a science fiction novel. Thornton and his team hope to establish a courier service to the moon — the first of its kind — with regular, possibly annual, missions on the back of rockets from companies like United Launch Alliance (ULA) and SpaceX. Astrobotic’s first mission to the moon is planned for the beginning of 2021 and will use the company’s Peregrine lunar lander — a sort of interplanetary courier van that measures 8 by 6 feet and resembles a giant kettle-shaped barbecue grill. It can carry up to 198 pounds of cargo.

Space Development Agency a huge win for Griffin in his war against the status quo

Space News (4/21): A look at the Pentagon’s new Space Development Agency and efforts to accelerate procurement of perhaps vital space based national security assets in the fields of surveillance, missile warning and global navigation. Mike Griffin, the recently appointed U.S. undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and one time NASA administrator, is among the architects.

A soda company’s long obsession with outer space
The Atlantic (4/19): Think about the dreaminess of twilight, when the sun has slipped below the horizon, and the darkening sky is streaked with dusky purples and blues. There, among the emerging stars and the silvery moon, lustrous as a pearl, you see it—an ad for a soda company. This was the future envisioned by PepsiCo, specifically the corporation’s division in Russia. According to a recent story by Futurism’s Jon Christian, the branch planned to launch an “orbital billboard,” a cluster of small satellites flying in formation, like migratory birds that want to sell you something. A spokesperson for the company recently denied the story, calling it a “miscommunication”.  The history of Pepsi’s interest in space goes back decades, however.

A communications satellite just died in orbit. It’s potentially dangerous space junk now (4/21):  Luxembourg based Intelsat has reported the total loss of the Intelsat 29E communications satellite, launched in January 2016, after a propellant leak incident on April 7. Now adrift, the communications satellite poses an orbital debris threat to other satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit, according to one expert in the field, T. S. Kelso, of CelesTrak.

China launches new BeiDou satellite

Xinhuanet (4/21): China launched the 44th satellite in its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System late Saturday, China’s equivalent of the U. S. Global Positioning Satellite System. The spacecraft was the first of the BDS-3 generation positioned in an inclined geosynchronous orbit.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for week of April 21-27, 2019 (4/21): Monday is Earth Day, an annual observance inspired by the powerful Earthrise image captured by NASA’s Apollo 8 mission crew as they circled the Moon in December 1968. NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel gathers this week at the Marshall Space Flight Center, with the Space Launch System and its status a likely topic of discussion: Can developers find a way to launch the first SLS/Orion joint test flight, Exploration Mission-1, during 2020? The U. S. House and Senate continue in recess this week.

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