Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 1st, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… A Russian Progress cargo vehicle reached the International Space Station (ISS) within 3 1/2 hours of launch on Wednesday. The Planetary Society announces success with its Light Sail-2, a small spacecraft mission designed to demonstrate sun light as a propulsion source.  NASA’s Transiting Exo-planet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission celebrates the discovery of multiple roughly Earth sized planets around a nearby star.

Human Space Exploration

Progress cargo freighter lifts off, reaches Space Station hours later (7/31): On Wednesday, Russia successfully launched and docked an automated Progress cargo capsule with the six person International Space Station (ISS). It was the third time for a Progress docking within about 3 1/2 hours of launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, or about two orbits of the Earth. It’s a practice that could be adopted by Russian Soyuz spacecraft with cosmonauts and astronauts aboard.

Space Science

Planetary Society hails ‘mission success’ after LightSail 2 solar sail raises its orbit (7/31): Launched June 25 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, as part of the Pentagon’s Space Test Program 2 ride share mission, the Planetary Society’s Light Sail 2 mission has successfully demonstrated that light from the sun can propel a small Earth orbiting satellite to a higher orbital altitude. The Pasadena, California, based nonprofit’s Light Sail 2 satellite, which was deployed on July 23, raised the high point of its Earth orbit by 1.7 kilometers over four days.

The future of asteroid tracking
Axios (7/30):  Large asteroid impacts with the Earth are rare, but they can be remarkably destructive. NASA is pursuing a Congressional mandate to identify and track the major hazards. However, it has fallen behind the goal, largely because of a lack of funding for space and ground based telescopes designed for asteroid observations. Nonetheless, a recent poll indicates Americans consider identifying and defending against potential asteroid impacts is a priority. In 2021, NASA plans to launch DART, a mission to demonstrate a potential defense strategy, one in which the course of an asteroid would be changed with a manmade impactor.

Here’s looking at Euclid: NASA provides crucial parts for ESA Dark Energy mission (7/31): Euclid, a European Space Agency (ESA) mission planned to launch in 2022, will investigate Dark Matter and Dark Energy, two mysterious elements that play a significant role in the evolution of and future of the universe. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) are contributing critical sensor chip electronics developed to operate at very cold temperature extremes.

Could there be life? This newfound ‘super-Earth’ may be habitable (7/31): NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April 2018, has discovered a nearby “super Earth” that may be capable of supporting life. GJ 357 d, the planet which is twice the size of Earth, is 31 light years away. In the possible dense atmosphere there, water could be stable as a liquid on the surface of GJ 357 d.

NASA promised more, smaller, Earth-size exoplanets. TESS is delivering
Universe Today (7/31): Launched in April 2018, NASA’ s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is fulfilling a mission objective, identifying planets around nearby stars with small planets sized between Earth and Neptune and potentially capable of supporting life. 

Other News

Lockheed Martin celebrates missile program’s move to Space Coast that could bring 350 jobs
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
Orlando Sentinel (7/30): Florida’s space coast counts another space economic milestone as Lockheed Martin marked the relocation of its ballistic missiles program to Titusville, Fla, this week. “This headquarters expands what is already a growing trend to diversify the economy beyond a dependence on NASA programs,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. 

SpaceX, Lockheed, Blue Origin, others get new NASA Moon contracts
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketydyne (also won but not mentioned) (7/30): NASA on Tuesday announced new contracts with 10 companies to help send people back to the moon by 2024, as well as to Mars afterward. The landing contracts, which include new deals with SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, Sierra Nevada and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, will see each of the companies work with NASA to accomplish both space exploration goals.

Australia can pick up its game and land a Moon mission – Op Ed
The Conversation (8/1): It’s time for Australia to offer more than a ground station support for space communications, writes Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Center for Space Research. He suggests Australia join the Moon exploration movement and bring its expertise in mining to the march forward.

Space insurance costs to rocket after satellite crash
Reuters via New York Times (7/31): The record loss to insurers of a European Vega rocket launch in July is likely to drive up the cost of coverage. A Vega rocket crashed after a July 11 liftoff from French Guiana with a military reconnaissance satellite for the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

New port will host sea-based space launches
China Daily (8/1): The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp is joining with the Shandong province, on the country’s eastern coast, to establish a port for vessels capable of sea going rocket launches by year’s end. The project is expected to also foster the development of satellite services and research centers.

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