Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 16th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA unveiled new space suit concepts on Tuesday, one garment that will be worn by the men and women astronauts assigned to land on and explore the lunar surface and a second to protect them as they launch aboard the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule and return to Earth. The agency also juggled spacewalk plans for late this week outside the International Space Station (ISS). As a result, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are to conduct the first ever spacewalk by two women as soon as Friday.

Human Space Exploration

NASA’s new spacesuits unveiled, for trips to the Moon and beyond
New York Times (10/15): In Washington, NASA Administrator on Tuesday unveiled new spacesuit prototypes for the launch of astronauts aboard the Orion and Space Launch System (SLS) to the surface of the Moon, beginning in 2024. The new Moon suit will more mobility and comfort for the future astronauts assigned to lunar surface exploration than did the Apollo space suits and the space suits now used aboard the International Space Station (ISS). A second suit will be worn by the Orion astronauts as they launch and land to protect them against a sudden depressurization of their spacecraft.

NASA reshuffles spacewalk schedule after hardware failure (10/15): A string of five spacewalks that NASA planned during October to upgrade solar power storage batteries outside the International Space Station (ISS) will be interrupted, NASA announced Tuesday because of a faulty battery charge/discharge unit installed during the second of the excursions last Friday. Mission managers have assigned NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir to a spacewalk now planned for no earlier than Friday to remove the faulty component. Theirs is to be the first spacewalk by two women, a milestone that was planned for last March until one of the space suit components needed by each of the two women astronauts was in need of a lengthy maintenance session.

Astronaut organization seeks role advising Artemis (10/15): The Association of Space Explorers (ASE), an organization of more than 400 women and men from around the world who have launched and orbited the Earth at least once, gathered in Houston earlier this week for their 32nd annual conference. The organization is offering NASA and its global partners counsel as the U.S. leads an accelerated effort to return human explorers to the Moon in 2024. “We’ve been, in the last few years, trying to become better known as a resource for human spaceflight,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former NASA astronaut and president of ASE. “It’s hard to argue against the vast majority of people that have flown in space.”

Space Science

It looks like it’s working! NASA InSight’s Mole is making progress again thanks to the arm scoop hack
Universe Today (10/15): NASA and German engineers report progress in their efforts to resume digging on Mars with a science instrument called the Heat and Physical Properties Package, or Mole, which is part of NASA’s InSight lander. InSight touched down on the Red Planet in late November. The Mole was to pound its way into the Martian crust to measure the flow of heat rising from the planet’s interior. However, it became unable to penetrate because of unexpected Martian soil conditions earlier this year. InSight’s seismometer, meanwhile, has succeeded in measuring Marsquakes.

Russia wants to remove space robot’s legs, give it wheels, send it to the Moon
Ars Technica (10/15): Russia’s humanoid Skybot F-850 robot, also known as “Fedor,” recently visited the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a Soyuz test flight. Now, engineers are making plans to send a tool wielding version of robot to the Moon with its torso attached to a rover rather than legs for exploration.

Other News

Louisville’s Sierra Nevada unveils Dream Chaser primary structure
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance
Daily Camera of Boulder Colorado (10/15): Sierra Nevada on Tuesday unveiled the primary structure of its reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is to begin ferrying cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS) beginning in 2021, with the first of at least six launches under a NASA contract. Unlike other Space Station cargo vessels, the uncrewed Dream Chaser can return to Earth with science experiments and other fragile cargoes by landing on a runway, following its launch aboard the United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur. The unveiling took place at Sierra facilities in Littleton, Colorado.

Former FAA official calls for national spaceport policy (10/15): The former head of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) commercial space office says the government should create a policy that promotes the development of spaceports as not just launch sites but also as hubs for economic development. In an October 10 presentation at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS), George Nield took issue with the conventional wisdom that there is an oversupply of commercial spaceports in the U.S.

SpaceX seeks to reserve spots for 30,000 more Starlink broadband internet satellites (10/15): SpaceX has disclosed plans to place 30,000 Starlink communications satellites in Earth orbit for high speed internet connection in addition to the 12,000 the company has already received permission to launch. The small satellites are to circle the Earth at altitudes of between 203 and 360 miles.

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