Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 23rd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA to announce award for first Gateway component today at 1:00 pm EDT. The U.S. House backs a boost in NASA’s science and educational initiatives but offers nothing more to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon. In order to focus of the exploration of the Moon, policymakers are considering a transition of operations in low Earth orbit to the private sector.  

Human Space Exploration
NASA Administrator to make Artemis Moon program announcement (5/22): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make a significant announcement about the Artemis program’s lunar exploration plans at 1 p.m. EDT, at the Florida Institute of Technology. The remarks will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Administrator Bridenstine will announce the commercial partner selection to develop and build the first segment of NASA’s Gateway outpost – the power and propulsion element (PPE). Gateway will be the lunar orbiting staging point to send astronauts to the Moon’s surface in five years.

No extra Moon money in House Committee CJS bill (5/22): The U.S. House Appropriations Committee Wednesday sent a 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science 2020 spending measure ahead without funds to accelerate a White House initiative to return to the lunar surface with human explorers in 2024, four years earlier than previously planned. Instead, the spending measure added funds to NASA’s science and educational lines. The top line for NASA of $22.315 billion for the fiscal year starting on October 1, is $815 million more than appropriated for 2019.

Can Trump put NASA astronauts on the Moon by 2024? It’s unlikely
New York Times (5/22): In late March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, however, had not spoken one on one with President Trump about the objective as of last week, and Congress has responded cautiously, hesitant to approve an increase in spending on the initiative.

Canada mulls accelerated schedule to keep pace with NASA’s 2024 Moon goal (5/22): The Canadian Space Agency is weighing a plan to accelerate its contribution to a NASA led effort to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. “We didn’t do this blindly,” declared Sylvain Laporte, president of the Canadian Space Agency, before a Space Transportation Association gathering this week in Washington.

ISS, inc: Is the space station business ready for liftoff?
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Made In Space, and NanoRacks
Wilson Quarterly (Winter 2019): The challenge of transitioning the 15 nation, six to seven person International Space Station (ISS) from NASA to private sector oversight requires managing risk and cost without jeopardizing a significant space asset, one that is nurturing a commercial potential. Meanwhile, several companies are preparing to build and operate their own platforms in low Earth orbit.

Space Science
NASA will end the Spitzer Space Telescope’s mission in 2020
AXIOS (5/22): The last of NASA’s Great Observatories, the Spitzer Space Telescope, an infrared observatory launched in 2003, is scheduled to end its mission in January 2020. A sibling of the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer’s accomplishments include a better understanding of the expansion of the universe and the discovery of black holes.

Massive double asteroid will cruise by Earth later this week
BGR (5/22): The diamond shaped asteroid 1999 KW4 is on a course to pass just over 3 million miles from Earth on May 25. The mile wide asteroid has a quarter mile wide moon, as well. The duo do not pose a threat to Earth but will pass close enough for astronomers to get a good look.

NASA invites public to help asteroid mission choose sample site (5/22): Since arriving at the asteroid Bennu in December, NASA’s Osiris Rex sample return mission has discovered a very rocky surface as it surveys the primitive planetary body for a place to land. Now, the mission team is asking the public to help sort thru the imagery the spacecraft is transmitting to help select the best place to land briefly in mid-2020. The sample material collected by Osiris Rex is to be returned to Earth in September 2023.

Other News
Now you can put your name on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover (in teeny tiny letters) (5/21): Using the latest technology, NASA is taking names to place on computer chips to accompany the agency’s Mars 2020 rover to the Red Planet. The launch is planned for July 2020. When the rover arrives, it will look for evidence of past or even current microbial life as it collects and caches sample of Martian soil and rock for eventual return to Earth.

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