Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 1st, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. Senate budget numbers for 2020 would increase NASA’s budget by $1.25 billion over 2019. Northrop Grumman is readying a cargo mission launch to the International Space Station (ISS) from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia early Saturday.

Human Space Exploration

Senate passes NASA appropriations bill (11/1): The Senate passed a spending bill Oct. 31 that provides $22.75 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2020, but final agreement on funding for agency programs may still be weeks, if not months, away. On an 84–9 vote, the Senate approved a so-called “minibus” appropriations bill that combined several separate measures, including the commerce, justice and science (CJS) bill that funds NASA, NOAA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), among other agencies. The minibus also included the transportation, housing and urban development bill, which funds the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

3-2-1-Cookoff! Astronauts to bake cookies with new test oven
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
Associated Press via New York Times (10/31): NanoRack’s Zero G Oven is among a four ton cargo mission to the six person International Space Station (ISS) set to launch Saturday atop a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore. The oven is among a substantial cargo of science experiments and crew provisions set to reach the Space Station early Monday. The Zero G Oven will help NASA offer astronauts an expanded menu as they prepare for an accelerated return to the surface of the Moon and once there prepare for missions to Mars. Liftoff Saturday is planned for 9:59 a.m., EDT. Other cargo includes spacewalk tools and equipment to repair the thermal control system of the Space Station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. 

Seeking transparency, NASA asks Boeing to livestream test of astronaut capsule
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Click (10/31): Boeing plans to join NASA in live streaming ( a critical test firing of the abort engines of the CST-100 Starliner, which is nearing certification to begin the scheduled transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The ground test at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is planned for Monday during a three hour window that opens at 9 a.m., ET.

Space Science

NASA is getting serious about an interstellar mission
Wired (10/31): At NASA’s behest, the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab is studying the launch of a possible interstellar mission, the first to send probes beyond the solar system since the NASA Voyager 1 and 2 missions were launched in 1977. The new Interstellar Probe would launch on a NASA Space Launch System rocket and seek to add a gravity assist at the sun or Jupiter to increase its velocity to more than 100,000 miles per hour and place it on a 50 year, 92 billion mile course to study the physics of space beyond the sun’s influence.

Why dead stars go boom: Scientists eye mechanism behind supernova explosions (10/31): In search of for an explanation, astronomers turned their focus to Type 1A supernova, the explosion of aging white dwarf stars. The spectacular detonations have helped to reveal that an aging universe is expanding due to a still mysterious force called dark energy.  A study led by a University of Connecticut researcher and published in the journal Science suggests the star’s density is a factor.   

Other News

Cruz criticizes House for lack of action on commercial space legislation (10/31): U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, chair of the U.S. Senate Space Subcommittee, offered criticism Thursday of his House counterparts for a reluctance to update commercial space regulations. The Senate measure would authorize the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030. Cruz spoke before a forum organized by the Air Line Pilots Association and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation on airspace issues for commercial launches.

China on pace to resume Long March 5 launches by end of year (10/31): China is looking to late December for the return to flight of its Long March 5 heavy lift rocket, a propulsion source for launches of Mars rover and lunar sample return missions as well as the assembly of an orbital space station — the latter using the Long March 5B variant. The most recent flight of the Long March 5 in July 2017 with an experimental communications satellite ended in failure. The inaugural launch in 2016 was a success.

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