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Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 28th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… President Trump predicts a growing cooperation in human space exploration between the U.S. and Japan, one leading to the Moon and Mars. Thruster tests help prepare Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner for upcoming flight tests. U.S. House appropriators ready to invest in nuclear thermal propulsion testing.

 

Human Space Exploration

Japan astronauts to soon join U.S. in trip to Mars, Trump says
Bloomberg (5/27): While meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over the weekend, President Trump predicted the U.S. and Japan will soon expand their cooperation in the exploration of space with missions to the Moon and Mars in comments intended to challenge China’s rise in space.

Trump says U.S. astronauts will go to the Moon and Mars ‘very soon’
Washington Post (5/27): From a military standpoint there is nothing more important than space, says President Trump, while announcing from Japan that the U.S. and Japan plan to expand their cooperation in human spaceflight.

Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule completes major propulsion test

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Spaceflightnow.com (5/25): A flight like model of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner underwent service module thruster test firings last week at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. The tests involving abort as well as steering thrusters are to help clear the way for a launch pad abort test and uncrewed and crewed test flights of the Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) later this year. Boeing is partnered with NASA under the Commercial Crew Program to re-establish a human transportation capability to low Earth orbit, a capability lost as NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in 2011.

Op-Ed | Time to go back to the Moon, to truly stay
SpaceNews.com (5/24): In an op-ed, author Rand Simberg suggests the challenge of returning to the Moon with humans could be made less so by establishing a habitat on the lunar surface, where the expense of returning to Earth could be better managed.

Emirati astronaut Hazza on final training before taking off to space
Khaleej Times of the UAE (5/26):  Hazza Al Mansouri, the first Emirati astronaut, is undergoing final mission training in Russia. The first Arab to live and work aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is to launch with Russian and U.S. colleagues on a Russian Soyuz rocket. The liftoff is currently planned for September 25.

Space Science

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission drops in on Death Valley
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (5/24): An engineering version of a Laser Vision System for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN) instrument hardware was carried aloft by helicopter for airborne testing over Death Valley, California, last week. The TRN will equip the rover with a real time capability to avoid hazardous terrain as it descends to a landing in Mars Jezero Crater. Launch of the rover is planned for July 2020, with a landing in February 2021. The rover is to look for evidence of biological activity and cache soil and rock samples for eventual return to Earth.

Theory proposes that Venus could have been habitable, but a large ocean slowed down its rotation, killing it
Universe Today (5/25): Now the hottest planet in the solar system with an atmosphere nurturing clouds of sulfuric acid, Venus appears to have changed from its earliest era. Scientists believe Venus, the Earth’s twin in terms of size, once sported liquid oceans and a cooler atmosphere. Then the climate changed, researchers theorize in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Elon Musk’s Starlink ‘train’ looks amazing, but astronomers have serious concerns
Science Alert (5/27): As the first 60 of SpaceX’s planned 12,000 Starlink satellites reached orbit last week to expand a global Internet link, astronomers raised concerns the network could challenge continued ground based radio telescope observations. The Moon’s far side could become optimum for observations without interference.

Other News

Momentum grows for nuclear thermal propulsion

SpaceNews.com (5/25): The $22.3 billion NASA appropriations bill making its way through the U.S. House includes a $125 million investment in a nuclear space propulsion technology, something the White House did not request. The expenditure could lead toward a near term flight demonstration, according to U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, who earlier this month called for such a test by 2024.

SpaceX cleaning up Cape Canaveral landing zone after Crew Dragon explosion
Florida Today (5/24): Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection continues to oversee an ongoing assessment of the site on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, where SpaceX experienced an explosion on April 20 while testing thrusters for its Crew Dragon. The spacecraft is undergoing development under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).

Lightning hits Soyuz carrier rocket during launch from Plesetsk spaceport
TASS of Russia (5/27): A Soyuz 2-1.b rocket launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome managed to deliver the latest of Russia’s Glonass space navigation satellites to orbit on Monday despite being struck by lightning on the nose fairing third stage as it climbed to orbit.

Stephanie Wilson, a NASA astronaut, urges Salem College graduates to find role models and become mentors themselves
Winston Salem Journal of North Carolina (5/25): Veteran NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson offered inspiring words to graduates of Salem College over the weekend. The three time space flight veteran urged her young audience to identify role models for themselves and seek our opportunities to serve as mentors for those who are younger.

At 95, Kennedy Space Center (KSC) VAB designer calls iconic building his proudest accomplishment
Florida Today (5/24): Designer Philip Franklin Moyer, now 95, reminisces on the role the NASA Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) has played in space exploration. That’s where much of the rocket and space payload hardware come together for human and robotic missions launched from Cape Canaveral. Completed in 1966 for assembling the Saturn V rocket, the VAB was the largest single story building at 209 feet tall and 12,300 square feet.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 26 – June 1, 2019
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/27): The NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee meets in Washington Tuesday and Wednesday. Cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Alexsey Ovchinin are scheduled for a six to seven hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday to retrieve science equipment and conduct maintenance outside the Station’s Russian segment. The FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee meets Thursday in Washington as well.

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