Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 22nd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA execs provided a independent advisory council on science with more details on plans to return to the lunar surface with human explorers by 2024. Space policy experts caution NASA’s Artemis initiative to return humans to the Moon must be adequately funded and backed by broad bipartisan support. China’s regulation of launch services is lax, posing a threat to the country’s general population and environment, one U.S. expert in the field warns.

Human Space Exploration
More details emerge about Artemis (5/21): Two top NASA executives briefed the NASA Advisory Council in Washington Tuesday on plans to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024, an initiative with a new name, Artemis. The first joint test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion, once called Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) and now Artemis-1, is planned for late 2020/early 2021 and without a crew; Artemis-2, a repeat of the SLS/Orion circumlunar test flight with a crew is planned for October/November 2022, followed by Artemis-3, the lunar surface mission with astronauts, in 2024. Five commercially launched missions will be needed to assemble a basic version of a lunar orbiting Gateway and equip it with the transfer, descent and ascent vehicles to shuttle the Artemis 3 astronauts to the Moon’s south pole.

Moondust could cloud lunar ambitions
Wired (5/20): Australian physicist and Apollo lunar researcher Brian O’Brien’s pursuit of the lunar dust hazard  may be among the most significant lessons learned for those organizing a sustained human return to the Moon over the coming decade. The astronauts on each of the six Apollo missions that landed on the lunar surface expressed concerns over the abrasive, clinging nature of the lunar dust and other qualities that pose a health risk, a continuing concern.

Charlie Brown or Snoopy: America’s future in space hangs in the balance (Op-ed)
Parabolic Arc (5/21): Managing Editor Doug Messier sounds a warning for the nation’s future human space exploration plans. The strategy to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface by 2024 must be well thought out, adequately funded and backed by a broad consensus and bipartisan political support, not political expedience, he cautions.

Space Science
In 2020, NASA will send living things to deep space for first time since Apollo (5/21): BioSentinel, a NASA payload with yeast cells, will be launched in orbit around the sun to assess effects of the radiation environment beyond the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field. It’s a CubeSat mission assigned to launch on Artemis-1, the new name for the first joint test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and uncrewed Orion on a course around the Moon planned for a late 2020/early 2021 liftoff.

All the buzz about NASA’s new fleet of space bees
Popular Science (5/21): NASA astronauts are experimenting with the first of three new Astrobees, small free flying, cube shaped robots assigned to the International Space Station (ISS) to fly around and robotically carry out tasks that would otherwise require time from astronaut crews. Bumble and Honey arrived at the Station a month ago. Queen is expected to arrive this summer.

Other News
House appropriators say no to elevating Office of Space Commerce (5/21): A White House initiative to make the Commerce Department more of a “one stop shop” for commercial space regulation has been stalled by U.S. House appropriators working 2020 budget legislation. The proposed changes were outlined in President Trump’s Space Policy Directives 2 and 3.

Suppliers hope to tap into growing space market
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (5/21): The Space Tech Expo, under way in Pasadena, California this week, is showing evidence that even low tier hardware and service vendors share optimism for economic growth from an increasing number of launch services and satellite ventures. The overall space economy was estimated at $360 billion in 2018.

Safety last: Reckless behavior provides China with economic competitive advantages in space launch (5/21): Greg Autry, director of the Southern California Spaceflight Initiative and a member of the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, warns of hazards stemming from lax Chinese regulation of its launch industry. While it seeks to become more competitive in the global launch market, China’s launch practices have threatened the lives and environment of its population, Autry writes.

Indian rocket successfully delivers radar observation satellite to orbit (5/22): A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle placed India’s RISAT 2B radar imaging satellite in orbit late Tuesday, U.S. time, to monitor foreign military activity and help to manage natural disaster response among its missions.

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