In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA evolving strategy for accelerating a human return to the lunar surface by 2024 calls for a human-tended, lunar orbiting Gateway, a South Pole field station, a surface nuclear power source and a pressurized rover. NASA is working with the U.S. Air Force to develop ocean recovery plans for Boeing and SpaceX crew capsules launched to and returning from the International Station. NASA’s Mars InSight lander detects its first marsquake.
Human Space Exploration
Space news (4/24): NASA’s evolving strategy to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024 will include the essential elements of a human tended lunar orbiting Gateway as well as a South Pole base, according to Scott Pace, executive secretary to the White House National Space Council. Pace spoke in Washington Tuesday at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Universities Space Research Association. The Gateway will provide a fuel depot for reusable landers going to and returning from the surface of the Moon, as well as spacecraft arriving from and returning to the Earth. The lunar landing site will be built up over time into a field station to provide greater access to the lunar surface with a pressurized rover and include nuclear fission power. Pace emphasized a need to assess the nature of lunar ice at the South Pole to determine whether it can be mined for life support and rocket propellant production.
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Orlando Sentinel (4/23): NASA and the U.S. Air Force have teamed to simulate possible crew rescue scenarios involving one of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner or SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft currently undergoing certifications for regular transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station, something not possible since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in 2011. The exercise underway near Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., includes Department of Defense training of company personnel.
Houston Chronicle (4/19): In a one-on-one interview, retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly reflects on his 340 day, 2015-16 mission to the International Space Station in which he served as a research subject for experiments looking into the health consequence of long duration spaceflight. Kelly emphasized the need for a sustained plan for future human deep space exploration, adequate funding and international cooperation. One of Kelly’s experiments involved his identical twin brother, Mark, also a retired NASA astronaut, to assess the effects of spaceflight at the genetic level.
Ars Technica (4/23): As Russia moves from the Soyuz FG to the Soyuz 2 family of rockets for crew launches to the International Space Station, it plans to close the historic and still in use Site 1 launch complex at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Site 1 was the departure point for the Sputnik satellite launch in 1957 as well as for cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first human to launch into space in 1961. There are no funds for an upgrade.
Space.com (4/23): NASA’s Mars InSight succeeded last Nov. 26 in carrying out a soft landing on Mars, initiating a two year study of the Martian interior with a collection of sensors provided by global partners. On Tuesday, NASA reported the lander’s seismometer, which was deployed from the spacecraft to the planet’s surface in December with a robot arm, had detected its first quake on April 6. The mission, launched May 5, 2018, is to provide a deeper scientific understanding of how the solar system’s rocky planets, including the Earth and Moon formed.
USA Today (4/23): NASA has provided a recording of the first ever Marsquake detected by the Mars InSight Lander on April 6.
Universe Today (4/23): Wormholes, a theoretical feature of space time and general relativity proposed by Albert Einstein, may not be the convenient way to travel through space at vast distances as envisioned by some science fiction enthusiasts. Not so fast, say a collection of scientists who recently took a deeper look.
Space.com (4/23): NASA’s Osrisis-Rex asteroid sample return mission at Bennu offers a three dimensional, multi-spectral image of its target. The probe, which arrived at Bennu in December, is surveying its target for the best place to land briefly in mid-2021 to collect a surface sample for return to Earth in September 2023.
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