Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 4th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Trump administration lists space exploration and commercialization among the nation’s top R&D priorities for 2021. The Japanese Space Agency seeks funds to participate in lunar Gateway. Hurricane Dorian begins to turn away from Florida’s Atlantic Coast, home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Human Space Exploration

Space one of five Trump administration R&D budget priorities (9/3): Space exploration and commercialization ranked among the top five Trump administration research and development (R&D) priorities envisioned for the 2021 fiscal year budget, according to a White House Office of Management and Budget and Science and Technology Policy document released Tuesday. Others are national security, leadership in future industries, energy and environmental leadership and health and bio economic innovation.

JAXA preparing to develop equipment for future ‘Gateway’ Moon-orbiting space station
Mainichi of Japan (9/3): The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is seeking budgetary funds to develop life support and cargo delivery capabilities for the NASA led, lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway. Gateway, at an early stage of development, is to support a return to the surface of the Moon by NASA astronauts launched aboard a Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion crew capsule in 2024.

Hurricane warning lifted for Brevard County as Dorian continues to parallel Florida coast
Florida Today (9/4): The National Hurricane Center early Wednesday lifted the hurricane warning for Florida’s Atlantic Coast, though a tropical storm warning remained in effect. The center of the storm, which devastated the Bahamas early this week, was over the ocean waters east of Daytona Beach and the Space Coast and moving slowly to the north/northwest.

Space Science

WFIRST telescope passes preliminary design review (9/1): The Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) reached the preliminary design review stage on August 28, a milestone that permits it to move toward final design, though funding issues linger. A launch in the mid-2020’s is planned for the observatory that is intended to investigate dark energy and study extra solar planets. The White House attempted to cancel WFIRST in 2019, though Congress objected and provided $312 million in continued development. The administration proposed cancellation again in 2020, and Congress is still at work on a spending plan for the fiscal year that begins on October 1.

India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon orbiter releases Vikram lunar lander (9/2): India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission orbiter on Monday released the Vikram lander which will attempt a landing at the Moon’s south pole on Friday, U.S. time. The lander is carrying the Pragyan rover. All three spacecraft were launched in July.

NASA selects proposals to advance understanding of space weather
NASA (9/3): NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will assess the science merits of three potential heliophysics science missions to better understand how solar activity interacts with the Earth’s upper atmosphere to pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts. NASA will take nine months to assess the options prior to making a selection and investing up to $55 million in the chose mission.

Venus has wild climate shifts and the secret may be in its clouds (9/2): The intense cloud layer enveloping Venus may hold an answer to the neighboring planet’s high temperature environment, a consequence of the layer’s solar energy absorbency and the planet’s atmospheric circulation. U.S., European and Japanese spacecraft observations contributed to the study led by scientists based in Berlin, Germany.

Other News

Air Force changes message on Space Force amid criticism it stifled debate (9/2): Discussions in Congress and at the White House loom over the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act and efforts to establish a new branch of the military devoted to space national security. The Air Force states it’s now prepared for a more public debate over the merits amid criticism past exchanges were discouraged.

U.S. punishes Iran’s space agency over satellite program
Washington Post (9/3): The Trump administration placed sanctions on Iran’s space agency on Tuesday, charging Tehran with disguising ballistic missile development for delivery of nuclear weapons as a satellite launch capability. The action followed the president’s release of provocative images from space of an explosive failed rocket launch attempt by Iran last Thursday.

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