Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 3rd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… As the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 nears, talk of future as well as past lunar voyages grows. NASA names three companies selected to deliver science payloads to the lunar surface. Astronomers ponder volcanism on Pluto. 

Human Space Exploration

Insulation applied to final SRB segment for Artemis 2 mission
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (5/31): The insulation activities by Northrop Grumman are advancing development of a second NASA Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket for the Artemis 2 mission, a SLS/Orion test flight that will send astronauts around the Moon and back. It will follow Artemis 1 which will follow a similar course but without astronauts in the late 2020/2021 time frame. All are to set up a human return to the lunar surface by U.S. astronauts in 2024, a flight designated Artemis 3.

‘Forgotten’ Moon landings astronaut says Mars should be next space destination

9 News of Australia (6/2): Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 Moon mission command module pilot, reflects on his role aboard the historic 1969 mission, which will mark its 50th anniversary in July. Now, says Collins, it’s time to forge ahead to Mars with human explorers.

Five ethical questions for how we choose to use the Moon
Conversation (6/2): The assessment calls for consideration of such issues as whether lunar occupants would have the same legal rights as they do on Earth; if they can expect changes in physiology due to the lower gravity; and whether it’s ethical to own anything on a planetary body.

MOONRISE: Melting lunar regolith with lasers to build structures on the Moon

Universe Today (5/31): German researchers are working on a laser technology that could be used to convert lunar soil into building materials. The concept could provide shelters without the high cost of launching materials from Earth.

LEO commercialization studies show wide range of markets and demand (5/31): Efforts by NASA to find a consensus for future commercial activities in a low Earth orbit remain unclear. Companies that participated in a recent NASA assessment agree that NASA should be a mainstay, even as the agency strives to accelerate a human return to the Moon. NASA would like to continue its low Earth orbit activities as a commercial customer, one of many.

Space Science

NASA picks first commercial ventures to deliver scientific payloads to the Moon
Coalition Members in the News – Astrobotic, NanoRacks, Paragon Space Development Corp., United Launch Alliance (5/31): Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic, Houston’s Intuitive Machines and Edison, N.J.’s Orbit Beyond have been awarded NASA contracts of $79.5 million, $77 million and $97 million respectfully to launch and land payloads to the Moon in 2020-2021. The awards are part of a NASA strategy to develop increasingly more capable commercial lunar lander services, eventually those that could be used to touchdown with human explorers. In all, NASA is working with nine companies under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

Icy volcanoes on Pluto may have spewed organic-rich water
Science News (5/29): Thanks to NASA’s New Horizons mission, distant Pluto grows ever more interesting. Images from the spacecraft’s first ever flyby of Pluto in July 2015 are revealing a red ice that may have been deposited on the surface by volcanic activity and a salty, possibly organic subsurface sea. The findings were reported in the journal Science Advances.

Chandra finds stellar duos banished from galaxies
NASA (5/28): Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have discovered that when some stars reach the end of life, collapse and explode, the recoil can eject the remnants from their host galaxies. In some cases, the blasts have enough force to expel a star and a companion star.

Other News

A glimpse into the space rocket wars
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance

Politico (5/31): Northrop Grumman’s Kent Rominger addresses the push among commercial launch services companies to end a U.S. reliance on Russian supplied rocket engines by 2022, a date set by Congress. Northrop’s OmegA, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan and Blue Origins’ New Glenn are completing for two future contracts to launch national security missions as part of the U.S. Air Force’s next generation space launch system.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of June 2-8, 2019 (6/2): On Friday, NASA will present its new International Space Station (ISS) commercial use policy in New York City. The National Space Society will host its Policy Forum on Space Settlement on Wednesday in Arlington, Virginia. The U.S. House and Senate are in session with a range of activities planned involving civil, commercial and national security space as well.

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