In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s third flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule could be the mission that returns human explorers to the lunar surface in 2024. NASA is still addressing the increase in the agency’s annual budgets needed to meet the 2024 goal set by the White House in late March. Scientists find more evidence of hydration in primitive asteroids.
Human Space Flight
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance
Spaceflightnow.com (5/1): The third launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule, Exploration Mission-3 (EM-3), would be the one that returns human explorers to the lunar surface in 2024, according to Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, who spoke with members of a panel from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. EM-1’s circumnavigation of the Moon, followed by a crewed version of the flight, EM-2 in 2022, would partially set the stage for EM-3 and the landing. Currently, NASA would like to assemble the power and propulsion, docking and hab components of a future lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway, starting in 2022. The bare bones Gateway, part of the goal of making a sustained human return to the Moon, could serve as the command module for EM-3 and a reusable commercial lunar lander. On March, 26, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to accelerate previous plans to return to the Moon’s surface with astronauts from 2028 to 2024. That, said Gerstenmaier, will not be easy, nor without risk.
Florida Today (5/1): In late March, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, also chair of the White House Space Council, directed NASA to accelerate a planned human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. During an appearance Wednesday before U.S. Senate appropriators NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine assured lawmakers additional funding will be required, but that the cost is still a matter being calculated.
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/1): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine appeared before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Commerce Justice Science subcommittee on Wednesday, stating that NASA’s annual budget will not need to increase by $8 billion annually in order to accelerate a human return to the Moon from 2028 to 2024, an estimate reported earlier by Ars Technica.
Washington Post (5/1): In an op-ed, Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin calls for a human migration to Mars, something policy makers should consider a national priority as they prepare to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers by 2024. “It is time we get down to blueprints, architecture and implementation, and to take that next step a sustainable international return to the Moon, directly charting a pathway to Mars,” writes Aldrin. “In a world of division and distraction, this mission is unifying for all Americans and for all humankind.”
Space.com (5/1): Japan’s first asteroid sample return mission, Hayabusa 1, turned out to be quite a challenge as it unfolded between 2003 and 2010. Its return included only grains from its destination, the asteroid Itokawa. But those grains included traces of water, evidence that asteroids brought water to rocky planets like the Earth during the solar system’s planet forming era, according to scientists from Arizona State University (ASU). NASA’s Osiris Rex sample return mission to the asteroid Bennu discovered evidence of hydration in the surface minerals in December as the probe began the up close sample site selection phase of its long mission. The findings are published in the journal Science Advances.
Space.com (5/1): During January’s total eclipse of the Moon, Spanish observatories caught a bright flash from a meteor impact on the lunar surface, one that carved out a crater perhaps 10 to 15 meters wide. The findings, which will help experts assess some of the risks faced by future astronauts assigned to explore the Moon, are published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Geek Wire (5/1): Blue Origin plans the 11th flight of its New Shepard suborbital rocket Thursday from its West Texas test site near Van Horn. The payload includes science and tech development payloads from NASA and the agency’s flight opportunities program. Liftoff is planned for 9:30 a.m., EDT. It’s the second flight of 2019, a year in which the company has previously stated it would like to fly with passengers. The previous flight on January 23, was a success.
Axios (4/30): Rising enthusiasm for the capabilities of a new generation of small satellites is raising a question: economically is it better for these advanced spacecraft to ride share on a large rocket with a primary payload or seek new launch services dedicated to small satellite payloads.
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