Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 10th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Members of the U.S. Senate are at work on new bipartisan NASA authorization legislation that would include a bold vision for human exploration. Discussion over how NASA can best accelerate a human return to the Moon in 2024 continues. China calls on the country’s science community, young and experienced, to propose research for its future space station.

Human Space Exploration

Experts cite benefits, challenges of further space exploration
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar (7/9): A lineup of NASA and aerospace industry experts appeared Tuesday before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Aviation and Space to discuss NASA’s future human space exploration. The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar joined legendary NASA flight director Gene Kranz and three others. Dr. Dittmar urged the lawmakers to adequately fund NASA’s efforts to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface in 2024, noting that national investments in the Apollo era paid large dividends in the U.S. toward advances in technology and education. NASA has the technology and workforce but needs prioritization and focus, said Kranz. (video here)

Senate committee working on new, bold NASA authorization bill (7/10): Speaking on behalf of those on the committee supporting a new NASA authorization measure, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, said the bipartisan effort would call for a “bold” vision that will ensure that U.S. human explorers are the first to reach the Martian surface. The most recent NASA authorization legislation was in passed in 2017.

Space station invites ideas on experiments
China Daily (7/6): The China Manned Space Agency Space Station has extended a cross country invitation to scientists as well as university and high school students for project proposals in more than a dozen research areas for the China Space Station. Nine projects from 17 countries have already scheduled. Assembly of the station is to begin in 2020, with operations commencing in 2022 and continuing for at least a decade. “With the Space Station in place, we can have hundreds, even thousands of roving experiments going on, which will greatly improve China’s space research level,” says Zhang Wei, of the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Can the U.S. annex the Moon?
Slate (7/8): Provisions of the 1967 U.N. Outer Space Treaty prohibit any one nation from claiming ownership of space or planetary bodies. According to legislation in the U.S., however, anyone with the capabilities to extract resources in space may claim them, drawing the interest of potential mining interests from around the world.  As NASA once planned to do, an asteroid or portions of an asteroid could be moved, possibly to avoid collision with the Earth or to place the objects in orbit around the Earth for scientific study.

Space Science

NASA scientists map ground damage caused by California earthquakes (7/9): A Japanese Earth observation satellite has documented surface damage from a pair of earthquakes on July 4 and 5 that rattled parts of southern California. The Advanced Land Observing Satellite revealed surface displacement. The imagery may help to reveal new faults.

Other News

German lunar lander company files for bankruptcy protection (7/9): Berlin based PTScientists has announced it’s filing for preliminary insolvency. The 60 employee company that once competed for the Google Lunar X-Prize lander competition, remains optimistic it will re-emerge. It is teamed with ArianeGroup to study a lunar lander mission for the European Space Agency (ESA).

Apollo 11

Apollo 50: Go for the Moon
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (7/9): Coming live to Washington on July 16, 17 and 18 at the Washington Monument will be the projection of a towering Saturn V rocket on the monument’s east face, an activity sponsored by the National Air and Space Museum. Times for the display are 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., EDT. There is more on July 19 and 20, “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon,” a 17-minute show that will combine full-motion projection mapping artwork and archival footage to recreate the launch of Apollo 11 and tell the story of the first Moon landing, starting at 9:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on the monument’s face and supporting screens.

Apollo 11 50th anniversary coins take ‘small step’ to space and back (7/5): Recently, NASA astronaut Christina Koch displayed rare, curved U.S. coins struck to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 Moon landing on July 20, 1969. The half dollar coins launched to the Space Station on May 4 on the most recent NASA contracted SpaceX re-supply mission. The coins returned aboard the resupply capsule on June 3.  Proceeds from the sale of thousands of commemorative coins are to help preserve U.S. space history and promote science education.

The People’s Moon
ThePeople’ (7/8): From New York to London and Singapore, the nonprofit The People’s Moon will host activities marking the 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing. In New York, Times Square will become Tranquility Base, the Apollo 11 lunar landing site. More details are available on the website. The Aldrin Family Foundation is the host of New York City activities, which get under way on July 20 at 9 a.m., EDT, and span 14 hours.

Apollo’s final warm-up act showed lunar mission could be done
Houston Chronicle (7/9): Apollo 10’s Tom Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan in May 1969 would fly a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11’s first ever Moon landing with human explorers. Fifty years ago this July 20, Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin would become the first humans to land and walk on the surface of another planetary body. On Apollo 10, Stafford and Cernan would ride Snoopy, their lunar module, to within 50,000 feet of the lunar surface and return to the command module with crew mate John Young in orbit. Their 8 day mission concluded with a return to Earth on May 26.

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