Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 29th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The landers and ascent vehicles required by NASA to accelerate a human return to the Moon from 2028 to 2024 could be among the biggest challenges for the new Artemis initiative. The effort to make a sustainable return to the Moon promises to be inspirational for a new generation of young woman and men, according to NASA executive and former astronaut Janet Kavandi. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tells a student audience in Moscow that cosmonauts could be on the Moon by 2030.

Human Space Exploration

NASA seeks a rapid launch of a lunar lander (5/28): In order to meet the White House’s accelerated time scale for NASA to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers from 2028 to 2028, NASA’s biggest hurdle appears to be the landers and ascent vehicles that are to shuttle astronauts between a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway and the lunar surface. Can they be developed commercially? How will they be delivered to the Moon? Might they be reused? 

NASA: Sustained presence on the Moon will be a good investment
USA Today (5/28): In an op-ed, NASA Glenn Research Center Director Janet Kavandi explains why an accelerated effort by NASA to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon by 2024 can serve to inspire a new generation of young women and men.

How Russia (yes, Russia) plans to land cosmonauts on the Moon by 2030
Ars Technica (5/28): It was last Thursday in remarks at Moscow University that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin addressed students and described a time line by which Rosmosmos, the Russian space agency, would reach the Moon with cosmonauts by 2030. A first step is the development of a super heavy rocket booster, he said.

NASA says SpaceX readying Crew Dragon capsule for possible piloted test flight by end of year
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

CBS via (5/28): SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, along with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, is partnered with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to certify new spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Crew Dragon test flights required to achieve NASA certification by the end of this year, however, have been stalled by an April 20 incident at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in which a test capsule was damaged by an explosion during ground-based thruster test firings prior to an uncrewed launch abort test. The incident remains under investigation.

NASA’S LEO commercialization studies paint questionable outlook (5/28): As NASA accelerates efforts to return to the Moon with human explorers by 2024, questions continue over the future of the NASA led, 15 nation International Space Station (ISS), which has been continuously staffed by astronauts since late 2000. NASA says it has a need for a sustained presence in low Earth orbit to study the health effects of multiyear mission on astronauts, whether on the ISS or as one of a range of tenants aboard a follow on commercial orbital platform. The latter could save the agency money, but the vitality of a commercial market is unclear. Currently, ISS operations are approved through 2024.

Space Science

Mark Kelly on what it’s like to be one-half of the NASA twin study
KNAU Radio of Flagstaff (5/27):  Kelly, a retired NASA astronaut, remained on Earth in 2015-16 while his identical twin brother, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, spent a U.S. record 342 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Together, they participated in a unique series of experiments that permitted scientists to study genetic changes attributed to the physical responses to long duration space flight.

Scientists cook up a new way to make breathable oxygen on Mars (5/28): Thanks to studies of comets, researchers from Cal Tech have devised a possible means of generating oxygen in the thin atmosphere of Mars for future human explorers.

This strange feature on Mars was probably the result of an ancient volcanic explosion
Universe Today (5/28): Scientists theorize a strange feature on Mars is likely the remnants of a tremendous ancient volcanic explosion. The site is not far from the planned landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which is to touchdown in February 2021 at Jezero Crater, site of an ancient lake and stream delta, to look for evidence of past biological activity.

Other News

Former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson named to NASA advisory committee
Orlando Sentinel (5/28): Former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, was named Tuesday by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to serve on the NASA Advisory Council. As a Florida congressmen, Nelson flew aboard the shuttle Columbia in 1986. He would move on to the Senate where he served on committees that have helped to shape U.S. space policy until his re-election bid last year was unsuccessful.Suborbital space tourism nears its make-or-break moment
The Space Review (5/28): Their strategies differ, but two suborbital passenger transportation companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, appear to be closing in on launching customers respectively from Spaceport America in New Mexico and West Texas and possibly by year’s end.

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