Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 11th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA sets course for the Artemis Generation. Upcoming NASA space experiments will demonstrate an atomic clock for future human deep space navigation and a more environmentally friendly spacecraft propellant. Efforts by the U.S. House and Senate to shape a new branch of the military devote to space national security move ahead this week. 

Human Space Exploration

Artemis generation: NASA emphasizes role of women as it prepares for a return to the Moon
USA Today (6/10): NASA has chosen Artemis as the name for its accelerated human return to the lunar surface initiative. Artemis, Apollo’s twin sister, is the Greek goddess of the Moon. The new name and its symbolism are intended to illustrate a new era of human exploration, according to current and former space agency leaders.

NASA tries to commercialize the ISS, again
The Space Review (6/10): Last Friday, NASA outlined much anticipated steps in plans to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) to expand a science and technology oriented low Earth orbit economy, while freeing some of its annual resources to resume human deep space exploration. It’s not the first time NASA has explored such a move. A key challenge is avoiding a gap in a sustained human presence in space aboard the Station that dates back to November 2000. The new plan will attempt to assess the readiness of the private sector to take over the low Earth orbit role.

JFK’s 1962 Moon speech though deliberate, political is still inspiring after all these years (paywall)
Houston Chronicle (6/11): It was September 12, 1962, that President John F. Kennedy delivered his memorable Moon speech at Rice University in Houston. On July 20, 1969, NASA’s Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface to become the first humans to walk on the surface of another planetary body and meet the challenge of landing on the Moon within the decade of the 1960’s issued by Kennedy.  “We choose to go to the Moon,” JFK told his audience. “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Space Science

NASA details deep space atomic clock and other tests launching on SpaceX Falcon Heavy
Tech Crunch (6/10): The Pentagon’s upcoming Space Test Program-2 mission is to deliver 24 wide ranging research and technology missions to Earth orbit, including four ground breakers from NASA. Among the quartet is the first space atomic clock, which is to demonstrate a GPS like navigation technology for future human and robotics missions destined for the Moon, Mars and missions even deeper into the solar system. The NASA contribution will also assess a new “green” rocket propellant alternative to toxic hydrazine. The launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy is planned for no earlier than late June 24 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Weird ‘anomaly’ at the Moon’s south pole may be a metal asteroid’s grave (6/10): Two NASA lunar orbiters, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), have spotted something strange at the Moon’s south pole Aitken Basin. It may be the remnants of the asteroid that slammed into the Moon to create the 1,240 mile wide basin possibly four billion years ago, say researchers, who published their findings in the Geophysical Research Letters.

Rare meteorites on Earth forged in massive crash on asteroid Vesta (6/10): Japanese scientists trace the possible origins of unusual meteorites gathered from Chile, Iowa and northwest Africa to the large asteroid Vesta.

Other News

HASC Chairman: Committee bill will include smaller, cheaper Space Force/Space Corps (6/10): The House Armed Services Committee is preparing this week to authorize the creation of a separate branch of the military for space. Action could come Wednesday, though its not clear whether the panel will chose Space Corps over Space Force as the name under the terms of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. The House version would limit some of the cost and bureaucracy in the White House version. The Senate Armed Service Committee voted in favor of a Space Force on May 22, with conditions. The Senate and House will have to hash out differences going forward.

Who speaks for the night sky?
The Space Review (6/10): SpaceX’s recent Starlink mission has sparked a debate over whether the thousands of small communications satellites of the same class and now lining up to launch will spoil the view for ground-based observatories and their astronomers. Who owns the sky, and are future satellite operations likely to be more polluting than city lights, asks space policy observer A.J. Mackenzie in an op-ed.

Newly-launched Russian telecom satellite relying on backup thrusters (6/10): Launched May 30 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Russian communications satellite is relying on backup thrusters to reach its final destination in geosynchronous orbit. A main engine anomaly was noted on June 1.

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