Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 12th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The first all-female spacewalking duo, NASA’s Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, stress the importance of improving the fit of future garments required for exploration of the Moon and Mars as well as orbital pursuits. NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) achieves a development milestone. Plans for Earth orbiting mega small satellite constellations are raising concerns over an orbital debris threat. 

Human Space Exploration

It’s tough being small in a big-suit world. We still spacewalked
Washington Post (11/11): On October 18, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir conducted the first two woman spacewalk as they replaced a faulty power controller outside the International Space Station (ISS). In an op-ed written from the Station, the two astronauts underscore the importance of properly sizing NASA’s next generation of space suits to accommodate the widest range of astronauts possible. The new suit generation is to accommodate astronauts working on the surface of the Moon as well as in Earth orbit. The long running sizing issue of the current space suit surfaced in March, when NASA planned, then postponed the first all women spacewalk because one of two required vest like suit components could not be prepared in time. “The current suit is challenging to operate even when it fits perfectly. Its pressure resists movement, its bulkiness precludes dexterity, and its inertia demands significant upper body strength,” according to Koch and Meir.

Commercial cargo’s next phase
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
The Space Review (11/11): The latest NASA contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Northrop Grumman’s 12 cargo trek signaled a milestone. Though it was the company’s 12th cargo delivery, it was the first in a second round of NASA contracts with Northrop Grumman, SpaceX and newcomer Sierra Nevada stretching into 2024. The Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule, which launched November 2 and berthed at the Station two days later, and its Antares launch vehicle have advanced achieving new capabilities in launch mass and performance throughout a chain of cargo missions that date to 2013.

Space Science

WFIRST passes preliminary design review (11/11): NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), under development to study dark energy and observe the atmospheres of distant extra solar planets for signs of biomarkers, quietly passed its preliminary design review earlier this month, a landmark in a difficult development environment. Congress remains supportive, though the White House this year sought no funding for the technically and cost challenged space observatory for a second year in a row in order to complete work on the also delayed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Launch of WFIRST is likely no sooner than 2025.

Hayabusa 2 to bid sayonara to Ryugu, start long trip back to Earth
Asahi Shimbum of Japan (11/12): Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission is about to begin its return to Earth from its destination Ryugu. Launched in December 2014, the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft reached the asteroid in June 2018 to station keep and maneuver over the surface and deploy small hopper/rovers. Twice the probe touched down to gather samples of Ryugu for return to Earth. Anticipated to return in late 2020, the samples will be studied to help determine the role asteroids played in distributing water and organics, the building blocks for life, to the Earth.

Watch a simulation of a galaxy, from the Big Bang until the present day
Universe Today (11/10): U.S. and German scientists have combined efforts to create the largest scale simulation ever of the Big Bang Theory and an expanding universe known as TNG50, an effort that required the use of a super computer.

FOMS reports high-quality ZBLAN production on ISS (11/7): Fiber Optic Manufacturing in Space, of San Diego, reports success with a fiber optics manufacture demonstration aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Op Eds

‘What we’re going to need to live and work in space’
Politico (11/8): Rob Meyerson, a management consultant with experience in the commercial space industry with Blue Origin as well as NASA, predicts a growing space economy with people living and working commercially from low Earth orbit to the Moon. Construction firms, mining companies, pharmaceutical companies, even the hospitality industry will play a role, he predicts.

Other News

The risky rush for mega constellations
Scientific American (10/31): Significant Earth observation, science, national security and other important low Earth orbit assets could be in jeopardy as growing numbers of companies begin to deploy large constellations of small satellites to improve global connectivity. Rough estimates place the potential small sat population at 50,000 in the coming decades. The risk of collisions and growing levels of debris challenge the ability to regulate and control the orbital region for other significant activities.

Successful launch continues deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink network (11/11): SpaceX on Monday successfully launched a second Starlink payload consisting of 60 small broad band satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, However, one of the small satellites may not be able to carry out an orbit raising maneuver. The launch from which the first stage was recovered with an Atlantic Ocean barge landing marked the first time a SpaceX payload fairing has been re-flown.

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