Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 7th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Without a recently requested $1.6 billion supplement to the agency’s 2020 budget request, NASA will not be able to accelerate a human return to the Moon from 2028 to 2024, says NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. At the same time, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel is urging the lawmakers and NASA not to under fund or agree to risky shortcuts during the pursuit.

Human Space Exploration

NASA chief: 2024 Moon landing ‘off the table’ if Congress doesn’t approve Trump request for extra funds
USA Today (6/6): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine delivered an ultimatum in an exclusive interview with USA Today on Thursday. Either Congress agrees to the $1.6 billion 2020 fiscal year budget supplement request for NASA sought by the Trump administration earlier this year, or efforts to accelerate a return of human explorers to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024 is “off the table.” On March 11, the White House requested $21 billion for NASA in 2020, a $500 million cut over the 2019 appropriation. On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA plan for a 2024 landing at the Moon’s south pole. On May 13, the administration asked for the $1.6 billion supplement to accelerate the lunar return.

Safety panel doubles down on need for SLS “Green Run” test
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin (6/6): In a meeting Thursday, the independent NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel again urged NASA not to skip a “Green Run” full duration, ground test firing of the Space Launch System (SLS) core stage prior to Artemis 1, the first joint test flight of the rocket and Orion crew capsule. Artemis 1 has been slipping from mid-2020 into 2021, and NASA management has been weighing options to recover schedule, one possible option being to skip the Green Run at the Stennis Space Center in favor of a shorter duration test of the SLS core stage rocket engines at a Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launch pad. Artemis 1 is to test the SLS/Orion systems without crew on a multi-week mission around the Moon and back. Artemis 2, a crewed test flight is next, with Artemis 3, a landing at the Moon’s south pole with astronauts, to follow in 2024.

Apollo 11’s Michael Collins recalls seeing Earth from space
Florida Today (6/6): With the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing approaching, the mission’s command module pilot, Mike Collins, recalls the experience of looking back at the Earth. While he circled the Moon, crew mates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the surface at the Sea of Tranquility, a first for humankind.

Space Science

This tiny rover will test how well small mobile robots can survive on the Moon
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic

The Verge (6/5): Astrobotic, one of the U.S. companies recently chosen by NASA to commercially transport science payloads to the surface of the Moon, will carry a tiny rover developed at Carnegie Mellon University. The company’s Peregrine lander will deliver the toaster-sized rover to assess how effectively something so small operates on the Moon.

NASA’s Mars helicopter testing enters final phase
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (6/6): When it launches for Mars in July 2020, NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will be carrying a small drone like helicopter to test whether small instrumented flying machines could act as scouts for future human as well as robotic explorers. The technology demonstrator weighs just four pounds and must demonstrate flight in the very thin Martian atmosphere.

International competition: U.S. not alone in setting sights on return to lunar surface

Houston Chronicle (6/6): With the rise of new technologies and lower launch costs, a growing number of countries are planning Moon missions, whether it’s robotic spacecraft or missions leading to human exploration. The growing global interest in the Moon coincides with U.S. plans announced on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first human Moon landing to return with human explorers in 2024.

Other News

The brightest visible planets in June’s night sky: How to see them (and when) (6/6): The summer skies promise a range of planet observation opportunities, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury.

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