Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 20th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The NASA International Space Station (ISS) Advisory Committee adds to concerns over U.S. Space Station staffing in 2020. NASA celebrates a favorable financial audit as it shoulders a return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024.

Human Space Exploration

Today’s Tidbits: NASA ISS Advisory Committee highlights top concerns
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (11/19): In the second item, the website reports on a NASA International Space Station (ISS) Advisory Committee report from Monday. The panel expressed a growing recent concern over the agency’s ability to staff the Space Station with U.S. astronauts in 2020 as Commercial Crew Program partners Boeing and SpaceX work to complete certification of their CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft in order to begin transporting astronauts to and from the orbital outpost soon. The panel also discussed the status of the Station’s oldest modules, Russia’s Zarya and Zvezda, which were launched respectively in 1998 and 2000, if the Station partnership was to operate beyond 2024.

NASA’s Moon push and international opportunities take center stage at SpaceCom 2019
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (11/19): The annual SpaceCom conference in Houston meets for the fifth time on Wednesday and Thursday with a focus on future human deep space exploration and emerging commercial space opportunities.

Dream Chaser mini-shuttle’s re-entry will be visible as a ‘Shooting Star’
Florida Today (11/19): Sierra Nevada, on a course to participate in NASA contracted re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) debuted a new feature of its winged, reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Tuesday. Shooting Star is a cargo module designed to separate from Dream Chaser as it returns to Earth from cargo deliveries to the ISS. Shooting Star will be filled with trash from the Space Station and burn up in the atmosphere after it separates from Dream Chaser. The first launch of Dream Chaser is planned for 2020.

Apollo 12’s 50th anniversary: The power of precision in human-machine collaboration (11/19): “We’re smoking right down there…” cooed astronaut Pete Conrad, Commander of the Apollo 12 mission, fifty years ago. Conrad’s lunar module (LEM) descended from a stable orbit through 40,000 feet above the surface of the Moon, only the second time in history that human beings had ventured so close.

Space Science

Space ballet: 2 Neptune moons perform an unusual orbital dance (11/15): Neptune’s two innermost moons are locked in an unusual “dance of avoidance,” with their perfect choreography ensuring the moons never get too close to each other. That’s a tricky feat, since their orbital paths are separated by just 1,150 miles (1,850 kilometers). But the moons themselves never come closer than within 2,200 miles (3,450 kilometers) — a few hundred miles shorter than the width of the U.S.

Physicists just created the most detailed simulation of the universe in history
Live Science (11/19): The formation of galaxies is a complex dance between matter and energy, occurring on a stage of cosmic proportions and spanning billions of years. How the diversity of structured and dynamic galaxies we observe today arose from the fiery chaos of the Big Bang remains one of the most difficult unsolved puzzles of cosmology. In search of answers, an international team of scientists has created the most detailed large-scale model of the universe to date, a simulation they call TNG50.

Advocates promote planetary defense mission ahead of ESA ministerial (11/18): Speaking from Berlin, Germany, planetary defense backers are calling on the European Space Agency (ESA) to support the Hera mission. Hera would be a companion to NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Mission, or DART, a mission to send a spacecraft and impactor to the asteroid Didymos and its companion Didymoon to demonstrate a planetary defense strategy. The impactor is to strike the asteroid moon in 2022. After a delay in previous mission plans, Hera would arrive four years later to assess Didymoon’s fate.

Other News

NASA announces ninth consecutive clean financial audit opinion 
NASA (11/19): Even with the challenge of an accelerated return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024, NASA sports a favorable audit of its 2019 financial activities for a ninth consecutive year. The agency spends less than half of 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget on human space exploration, science and technology and aeronautics.

ESA Director General calls for aggressive action on space debris (11/19): Jan Woerner, director general of the European Space Agency (ESA), called Tuesday for aggressive action in confronting the low Earth orbit threat to science and commerce from orbital space debris. Woerner spoke Tuesday at the Space Tech Expo Europe in Bremen, Germany.

China’s Kuaizhou launcher flies for second time in four days (11/19): With just a four day interlude, China this week demonstrated the turnaround capabilities of its solid fueled, small launch vehicle, the four-stage Kuaizhou 1A, on Sunday with the launching two small satellites from the same launch complex.

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