Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 18th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Step by step, NASA is pressing towards a human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024, an initiative with security as well as scientific significance. At the Paris Air Show, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine comments on Commercial Crew Program status.  

Human Space Exploration

NASA to seek proposals for Gateway logistics (6/17): NASA’s planned lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway is to play a critical role in plans to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable presence by 2028. Like the International Space Station (ISS), the Gateway will require resupply. Starting with a draft request for proposals last week, NASA seeks to use its space station commercial re-supply services contracts as a model.

A new accounting for Apollo: How much did it really cost?
The Space Review (6/17): The Planetary Society’s senior space policy adviser offers a fresh accounting for the cost of NASA’s Apollo era pursuit of a human lunar landing. Not as straight forward an effort as it sounds, Apollo was more than a triumph of engineering, organization, and daring. It was also a triumph of political consensus that provided the money, a challenge now facing the Trump administration’s Artemis initiative to return to the Moon with human explorers in 2024.

American, Israeli companies perfecting radiation vest for astronauts in deep space

Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
Florida Today (6/16): As a new generation of astronauts under NASA’s leadership strikes out for the Moon and other deep space destinations they will be wearing radiation protection. Lockheed Martin and Israel’s StemRad are collaborating on a protective vest.

NASA boss says ‘no doubt’ SpaceX explosion delays flight program
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Reuters (6/18): Speaking at the Paris Air Show, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said early Tuesday that an April explosion involving SpaceX’s Crew Dragon will delay efforts to resume astronaut launches to the International Space Station (ISS) from U.S. soil. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as well as the Crew Dragon to conduct launch abort, uncrewed and crewed test flights of the vehicles to the Space Station to complete final certifications. The cause of the April incident during ground-based Crew Dragon thruster tests in Florida is still under investigation.  

Space Science

NASA scientists find sun’s history buried in Moon’s crust
NASA/Goddard (6/17): Exploration of the Earth’s Moon has revealed some critical information about the sun’s earliest epoch and its violent nature, which influenced where and how life evolved. More clues as to why Venus is so torrid and Mars lost its atmosphere and surface water may be found with future exploration of the Moon’s south pole. That’s where NASA plans to return to the Moon with astronauts in 2024.

NASA’s Webb Sunshield undergoes rocket fitting, more testing
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman Goddard (6/17): NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) continues to undergo pre-launch testing and integration at Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California. The JWST is planned for launch in March 2021. The observatory’s spacecraft bus and large sun shield have been submitted to testing in a simulated launch environment while in their stowed configuration. The elements will not be redeployed and inspected in clean room facilities.

Other News

Firefly opens first Alpha rocket launch to academic and educational payloads
Ars Technica (6/17): Firefly, an Austin based launch services company is preparing for its inaugural launch by offering excess payload capability to academic and educational proposals. Slated to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, possibly as soon as late this year, the Alpha rocket is to head for a high inclination, 300 kilometer altitude orbit.

Apollo 11

JFK Library launches Moonshot app to inspire ‘the next generation’
Boston Globe (6/16): The Boston library is kicking off a month long observation of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 with a computer app that features archival videos, images, and audio recordings from the mission that placed the first humans on the surface of another planetary body on July 20, 1969.

New website replays Apollo 11 first Moon landing mission in real time (6/17): Ben Feist’s website,, is ready to take audiences back 50 years for the real time action surrounding Apollo 11’s July 20, 1969 first ever human landing on the Moon by the late Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. The play by play begins 20 hours from launch. An estimated 500 to 600 million people watched live worldwide on Earth, when the two astronauts touched down and Armstrong, announced, “Houston. Tranquility Base, here. The Eagle has landed.”

Fully restored, Apollo-era Saturn IB rocket returns to NASA display (6/16): Now fully restored, a Saturn 1B rocket of the version that flew the first NASA Apollo astronauts is on display at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). The 1B launched the Apollo 7 crew on an Earth orbit test flight in October 1968.

Krispy Kreme debuts doughnut for Apollo 11 Moon landing 50th (6/17): The sweet treat retailer is marking the 50th anniversary of NASA’s historic Apollo 11 Moon landing in July with two doughnut fillings for its classic glazed doughnut, Classic Kreme and Chocolate Kreme.

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