Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 17th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s plans to accelerate a human return to the Moon from 2028 to 2024 promises to be topic at the annual Paris Air Show as well as in Washington. Meanwhile, preparations are underway for a critical test of the Orion capsule’s abort system.  Politico is featuring a special report on the “The New Moon Race”. Check out today’s Politico Reddit AMA featuring Coalition for Deep Space Exploration President & CEO Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, at noon ET HERE.

Human Space Exploration

Bridenstine to meet with international partners on lunar plans at Paris Air Show (6/15): Earlier this month in Washington, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine discussed plans to speak with potential international partners about the agency’s plans to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers at the Paris Air Show this week.  “We will have opportunities to share with them what our plans are, the direction we’re going,” said Bridenstine. Canada is prepared to furnish a robot arm. Japan has agreed to a role. The European Space Agency (ESA) is providing the Orion capsule’s service module. Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space agency, however, cannot travel to Europe because of sanctions. NASA’s Artemis initiative to accelerate the return from 2028 to 2024 has somewhat clouded the partner role.

Orion launch abort system designed to pull its weight for Moon missions
Parabolic Arc (6/15): NASA’s Orion Ascent-Abort-2 test, currently planned for July 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), will test the crew capsule’s ability to escape a launch pad or launch ascent disaster. The abort system is designed to fire pulling the capsule and its crew of four astronauts away from its rocket to deploy parachutes for a landing.

Will Apollo nostalgia help NASA get its Artemis Moon money? (6/15): So far, the U.S. Senate has been relatively silent on the authorization and funding of NASA’s Artemis initiative to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024. As last week was coming to a close, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine provided CNN Business with an overall estimate of $20 billion to $30 billion, or $4 billion to $6 billion more annually than the agency’s current $20 billion annual budget. According to space historian John Logsdon, it’s too soon yet to gauge whether Congress will back the White House initiative. So far, the House has by-passed action on a $1.6 billion addition to NASA’s budget for Artemis in the 2020 fiscal year.

Marshall Space Flight Center’s director looks forward to NASA’s next 50 years
WAAY 31 ABC of Huntsville Alabama (6/14): Jody Singer, NASA Marshall’s first woman director, believes the agency is prepared to be more aggressive in its science and exploration pursuits than ever before.

Welcome to the new Moon race
Politico (6/13): The United States is heading back to the Moon – and so, it seems, is everyone else. The goals this time around are also commercial: To find new resources, exploit them, and find a way to live and work sustainably outside Earth’s orbit.

Space Science

Astrophysicists gear up for 2020 decadal survey (6/14): The American Astronomical Society is prepared to begin discussions on the next generation of highest priority science projects for astrophysics initiatives in space as well as on the ground. The final survey, which will be used by Congress, NASA and other agencies to establish program priorities, will be called Astro 2020.

Record-setting noctilucent clouds (6/17): Noctilucent clouds are seasonal and resemble frosted meteor smoke. 2019 is shaping up as the best year to view the electric blue clouds just after sunset and just before sunrise.

Other News

Study finds that a GPS outage would cost $1 billion per day
Ars Technica (6/14): A rough estimate from the National Institutes of Standards and Technologies places the cost of a U.S. Global Positioning Satellite System loss at $1 billion per day. Since becoming accessible to the commercial sector in 1984, GPS has generated an estimated $1.4 trillion in economic benefit. Russia, China, the European Union, Japan and India are each in pursuit of similar satellite networks.

Satellites equipped with a tether would be able to de-orbit themselves at the end of their life
Universe Today (6/15): In addition to its many discoveries and advances, the Space Age has resulted in mounting amounts of junk to Earth orbit, about 34,000 pieces of rocket and aged satellites debris, which poses a challenge to future economic development in Earth orbit. A Spanish researcher has proposed a strategy to reign in the collision threat, the deployment of aluminum tethers extended from satellites at the end of their operations that will work with the sun’s heat and the Earth’s magnetic field to drag the satellites destructively into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Meet Launch Complex 48, NASA’s new small rocket pad at Kennedy Space Center
Florida Today (6/15): Launch Complex, 48, developed by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) specifically for small commercial launch vehicles, should be complete late this year.

NASA spots a telltale ‘Star Trek’ sign on Mars
Mashable (6/15): NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, now more than 13 years in orbit around Mars, has spotted a curious feature on the surface of the Red Planet. Likely formed with a combination of dunes, lava and wind, the large feature, nevertheless, has a Star Trek flare.

Apollo 11
NOTE: Over the next month we will be featuring stories on the upcoming anniversary of Apollo 11 in this special section
To the Moon and back: 50 years on, a giant leap into the unknown (6/15): July 20 will mark the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, Apollo 11 with the late Neil Armstrong in command and Buzz Aldrin. Suspense reigned until their Eagle launder touched down on the Sea of Tranquility.

Why did the Moon landing matter? A slew of new books offer answers
New York Times (6/14): The July 20 approach of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing has sparked the publication of new books assessing the event’s significance. Harvard University history professor Jill Lepore highlights seven of them.

What it takes to be an astronaut: the real ‘right stuff’
CNN (6/17): Apollo 11, a CNN Films documentary chronicling the first landing on the Moon by NASA astronauts is to air on the network June 23. Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong and Eagle lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin touched down 50 years ago July 20, while their colleague Michael Collins awaited their return in the lunar orbiting command module Columbia.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of June 16-22, 2019 (6/16): The full U.S. House could take up the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations measure that includes 2020 NASA spending this week. The Paris Air Show is scheduled this week and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is expected to speak from there on Tuesday. He’s also expected to meet with foreign space officials about possible participation in Artemis, NASA’s accelerated effort to return to the lunar surface with human explorers in 2024. 

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