Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 20th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… A strategy to accelerate a return of human explorers to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024 continue to emerge. A congressional consensus, however, awaits. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine receives praise from the National Space Society (NSS) for backing NEOCam, a space infrared telescope mission to help identify Near Earth Objects posing an impact threat to Earth. 

Human Space Exploration
NASA Administrator on new Moon plan: ‘We’re doing this in a way that’s never been done before’
The Verge (5/17): In an interview, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine outlines an 11 launch strategy for returning human explorers to the Moon in 2024. The biggest risk to the plan, he ventures, is politics.

Industry wants NASA to move ahead quickly on Gateway module
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing and Northrop Grumman (5/20): Potential contractors are urging NASA to move quickly on procurement of a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway as part of Artemis, efforts to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024. On solution may be to obtain a habitation/utilization module with an International Space Station (ISS) heritage. It would join with the Gateway’s first element, a power and propulsion element to serve as a way point for astronauts arriving from Earth to board a lander/ascent vehicle to descend to the surface. The Gateway would be expanded after 2024.

NASA chooses companies to design part of its Artemis lunar lander
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman

Ars Technica (5/17): NASA has selected 11 aerospace companies, under contract agreements totaling $45.5 million in all, to develop competing concepts for spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts between a lunar orbiting Gateway and the surface of the Moon by 2024. The companies include traditional firms, Boeing and Lockheed, and younger ventures like Blue Origin and Masden Space Systems.

Will NASA’s rush to land astronauts on the Moon get us to Mars any faster? (5/17): A human Mars mission appears no closer than the late 2030’s, according to some experts. Efforts to accelerate a human return to the Moon from 2028 to 2024, however, could prompt changes in approach that are simpler, easier and more affordable, according to former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox. He recently rejoined the agency as deputy associate administrator for human exploration.
FY2020 NASA funding bill moves forward to full committee markup next week (5/17): The U.S. House Appropriations Committee is slated to markup a 2020 NASA funding measure this week. However, it did not address the White House Artemis 2024 human return to the Moon as the measure emerged from the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee on Friday morning, with a NASA top line of $22.32 billion, an $815 million increase over 2019.
Senate hearing examines commercial implications of Space Force (5/16): Last week’s U.S. Senate Commerce Committee space subcommittee hearing emphasized the commercial value of a Space Force in protecting valuable national space assets from harm by adversaries.

Space Science
NASA Administrator Bridenstine endorses the NEOCam mission
National Space Society (5/8): NEOCam is a potential $500 to $600 million mission with infrared space optics intended to increase the discovery of and help track Near Earth Objects as small as 140 meters that could pose an impact threat to the Earth.
The universe may be a billion years younger than we thought. Scientists are scrambling to figure out why (5/18): New research to be published in the Astrophysical Journal suggests the universe is younger than 13.8 billion years, and perhaps 12.5 to 13 billion years old.

Other News
Spaceport America vision at the edge of paying off big
Albuquerque Journal (5/18): It’s been a 14 year journey, but New Mexico’s Spaceport America appears closer than ever to offering tourists a suborbital journey into space, as Virgin Galactic transitions its flight operations team from Mojave, California.
Long March 3C rocket launches Beidou satellite toward geostationary orbit (5/17): China’s 45th Beidou global positioning satellite headed for geosynchronous orbit with a launch Friday atop a Long March 3C rocket. Still functioning and planned launches of additional Beidou satellites could give China an independent global space navigation capability by next year.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Major space activities for the week of May 19-25, 2019 (5/19): The U.S. House and Senate are in session this week. As a Memorial Holiday nears, lawmakers face rising pressure to deal with a range of budget authorization as well as appropriations matters. So far, lawmakers have not offered strong sentiments with regard to additional funding needed during the 2020 fiscal year to back Artemis, NASA’s initiative to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. The NASA Advisory Council’s science committee meets this week in Washington as well.

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