Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 5th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Other federal agencies see science value in the NASA-led International Space Station (ISS). India’s Chandrayaan 2 continues its journey to the Moon’s south pole. Proposed changes in U.S. launch and re-entry regulations divide the space launch industry. 

Human Space Exploration

How NASA’s return to the Moon will be different from its first journeys there (8/2): From the facilities to the flight hardware, NASA’s efforts to engineer an accelerated return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024 are drawing significantly from the Apollo era.

How federal agencies are increasingly using the Space Station
Politico (8/2): Federal agencies other than NASA, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Department of Defense, are showing interest in continuing International Space Station (ISS) research in low Earth orbit beyond 2024, the current date for which NASA is to end participation.

Senator criticizes cost and schedule issues with NASA programs (8/3): U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chair Mike Enzi has pressed NASA for an explanation of cost, technical and schedule issues confronting some NASA programs, especially the Space Launch System (SLS) and James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The committee sets guidance on budget matters but does not appropriate. Many of the issues Enzi raised have been assessed by the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) and other independent auditors.

Space Science

Chandrayaan-2 inches closer to the Moon
Deccan Herald of India (8/3): Successfully launched July 22, India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter, lander and rover are maneuvering their way to the Moon with a series of Earth orbit raising maneuvers. A fifth and final major maneuver is planned for Wednesday. The lander and rover are to touchdown at the Moon’s south pole in early September.

When a mega-tsunami drowned Mars, this spot may have been ground zero
New York Times (7/30): An ancient large impact crater on Mars may offer additional evidence that the Red Planet was once home to a vast ocean and flowing water. The Red Planet is now a cold and desert like. For decades, NASA orbiters, landers and rovers have searched for evidence of past and perhaps current microbial life.

One search to (almost) rule them all: Hundreds of hidden planets found in Kepler data
Scientific American (8/2): Efforts by NASA to extend the Kepler space telescope’s productive extra solar planet search despite failing reaction wheel aiming devices is paying dividends for Kepler’s successor, the Transiting Exo-planet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was launched in 2018. Launched in March 2009, Kepler’s extended missions came to an end in October 2018.

Halfway through all-sky survey, NASA’s planet-hunting TESS mission gets extension (8/5): As NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission reached the halfway point of its original two year sky survey on July 18, NASA agreed to a two year extension. TESS will continue its search for planets around nearby stars through 2022. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), planned for a March 2021 launch, will use TESS discoveries to search for evidence of biomarkers in the atmospheres of planets that orbit in the habitable zones of their stars.

Other News

ULA and its launch industry competitors in pitched fight over regulations
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance (8/3): The FAA has agreed to accept comments on proposed changes to space launch and re-entry regulations until August 19, a date that has been moved back twice. United Launch Alliance (ULA), and its parent companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, were recently joined in support of the FAA’s proposed changes by several other companies, including Northrop Grumman, Astra Space and the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. However, other companies oppose the FAA’s proposals, expressing concern they will dampen efforts to cut costs. The review got under way in May 2018, when President Trump issued Space Policy Directive 2.

SpaceX details launch and landing plans for Starship and Super Heavy
TechCrunch (8/2): SpaceX plans soon to begin flight tests of the two launch vehicles, Starship and Super Heavy, intended to provide reusable heavy lift for human spaceflight. According to environmental impact assessment documents, the company plans to operate from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Florida’s Space Coast for launch and first stage recovery activities. Possibly in the future, SpaceX it many consider launching from facilities in South Texas.

U.S. exempts aviation, space exports from new Russia sanctions
Associated Press via Washington Post (8/3): Export sanctions imposed by the White House on Russia last week will not include aviation safety and space exploration technology, the U.S. State Department said Friday. The ban was issued in connection with the poisoning of a former Russian spy and child in Britain.

Jeff Bezos touts a full-power firing of Blue Origin’s next-generation BE-4 rocket engine (8/2): The new BE-4 rocket engine is a cornerstone of Blue Origin’s plans for a powerful U.S. rocket engine for the company’s New Glenn rocket and potentially the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan launch vehicles. Tests of the new rocket engine are underway at Blue Origin facilities in West Texas.

Russia denies OneWeb’s satellite internet request
BBC (7/31): U.K. based OneWeb, the global satellite internet company, is again unable to secure permission from Russia for use of desired radio frequencies. Ninety million people in Russia have internet access – but a quarter of the population is still not connected, according to a German research firm. With the rejection, large stretches of Russia without internet access will be difficult to connect with traditional means, according to the report.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of August 4-17, 2019 (8/4): The U.S. House and Senate remain in recess until September 9. The Small Satellite Conference is underway this week at Utah State University. Huntsville, Alabama, is host to the Space Missile and Defense Symposium Tuesday through Thursday.

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