Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 26th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel urges policy makers, as well as NASA, not to side step testing for crew safety and technical risk as it moves forward with plans to return to the Moon with human explorers and establish commercial capabilities to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station.  Astronomers think the cigar-shaped asteroid Oumuamua, discovered in 2017, may have come from outside the solar system.

Human Space Exploration 

NASA urged to retain key SLS test

Space News (4/25): During a public session Thursday, NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA and policymakers not to side step efforts to reduce technical risk and human safety in efforts to meet a White House directive to advance a return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers from 2028 to 2024. Among the panel’s concerns was a possible option to eliminate an integrated “green run” test firing of the Space Launch System core stage with its four RS-25 rocket engines at the agency’s Stennis Space Center prior to the Exploration Mission-1 and EM-2 uncrewed and crewed test flights of the SLS and Orion capsule. Eliminating the “green run” has been estimated to cut six to seven months from the launch schedules in order to hasten a human lunar return. Plans for the launch of EM-1 in mid-2020 have slipped into 2021.  

SpaceX failure dims NASA’s hope for a quick U.S. return to launching its own astronauts into space

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Washington Post (4/25): NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its partners Boeing and SpaceX appear challenged in efforts to achieve certification to resume the transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station from U.S. soil by the end of this year. Budget and technical challenges have combined to force delays, the latest being last Saturday’s SpaceX Crew Dragon abort thruster anomaly during ground testing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel outlined the remaining challenges Thursday in a public session at the Marshall Space Flight Center. The ASAP urged NASA to avoid shortcuts in testing intended to increase crew safety and lower technical risk.


Space Science

Japan succeeds in creating world’s 1st man-made crater on asteroid

The Mainichi, of Japan (4/25): Earlier this month, Japan’s Hayabusa 2 sample return mission spacecraft lowered its altitude over the asteroid Ryugu and released an explosive charge to expose subsurface material for possible sampling later this year for return to Earth. This week, Hayabusa 2 descended again to image the blast region, confirming the presence of a 20 meter depression. The probe landed briefly on Ryugu on Feb. 22 for a surface sample. The spacecraft is to leave Ryugu late this year and return to Earth in late 2020. Scientists believe studies of surface and subsurface samples of Ryugu could help to further explain how planets were formed in the early solar system and how they obtained water ice and organics, the building blocks of life.

Astronomers think a meteor came from outside the solar system

Universe Today (4/24): Astronomers were surprised in late 2017 with the discovery of Oumuamua, a puzzling, large cigar-shaped object moving through the solar system and whose source appears to have been from outside. Further research by scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics suggest much smaller objects than Oumuamua from beyond the solar system may have entered the Earth’s atmosphere and point to a possible example from January 2014, a meteorite spotted off the coast of  Papua New Guinea. The findings were published online by the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The universe is expanding so fast we might need new physics to explain it (4/25): Might the observed accelerating expansion of the universe require a new understanding of physics? The measured increase in expansion is not an error in previous calculations but a result of more capable measurement using assets like the Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite observatory. The findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.


Other News

Congressional panel looks at national security implications of China’s space ambitions

Space New (4/25): Concerns over China’s rising prowess in space and concerns over an inevitable confrontation is not necessarily foregone, according to testimony presented Thursday in Washington before a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Experts suggested the U.S. take measures to protect its national security space assets.

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