Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 4th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine introduces new agency associate administrator for human spaceflight to the workforce. Boeing’s uncrewed CST-100 Starliner test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) move to December 19 to address launch vehicle issue. Forecasters predict a $1 trillion global space economy by 2040. 

Human Space Exploration

Loverro takes the helm at HEOMD, Bridenstine pushes back on $2 billion SLS cost estimate (12/3): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine introduced Doug Loverro, the agency’s new associate administrator for human exploration, to its workforce on Tuesday during an online Town Hall question and answer session. Loverro was selected in October to succeed Bill Gerstenmaier. During the Town Hall, Bridenstine also took issue with a $2 billion cost estimate from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the launch of a Space Launch System (SLS) mission. The SLS is a cornerstone of NASA’s Artemis initiative, an accelerated strategy to return to the surface of the Moon with astronauts by 2024, which Loverro will oversee.

Starliner test flight slips two days
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance (12/3): Once planned for no earlier than December 17, the launch of Boeing’s uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station (ISS) was re-scheduled Tuesday to no earlier than December 19. United Launch Alliance (ULA), which is providing the Atlas 5 launch vehicle, explained a need to assess an air supply duct on the rocket. If December 19 holds, the launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, is 6:59 a.m., EST. The mission is a milestone in efforts by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and Boeing to certify the Starliner for regular transportation of astronauts to and from the Space Station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral to send ‘mighty mice’ and more to space
Florida Today (12/3): Set to liftoff Wednesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, SpaceX’s 19th NASA contracted resupply mission to the six person International Space Station (ISS) includes a large science payload. The payload counts 40 mice, some of them genetically engineered, to assess how their muscles and bones respond to weightlessness. Liftoff is planned for 12:51 p.m., EST.

Space Science

Massive ‘dust towers’ on Mars look like supersized versions of Earth’s thunderstorms (12/3): Towering dust elevators are part of what can become global dust storms on Mars. The dust towers could be a mechanism by which water on the surface of the Red Planet was lost in the past, according to a research study led by scientists from Hampton University, of Virginia. The towers, observed by NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, are likened to thunderstorms that could last for more than three weeks.

Op Eds

Russia’s status as a space power will end with the start of NASA’s commercial crew
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
The Hill (12/2): Though technically challenged and confronted by delays, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its partners Boeing and SpaceX appear close to providing regularly scheduled transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), perhaps by mid-2020. It’s something the U.S. has not been able to do since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in mid-2011, which forced NASA to turn to Russian for Space Station crew launches. Once certified by NASA, the Boeing and SpaceX missions could jeopardize Russia’s future in space, writes Mark Whittington.

Other News

FAA approves commercial space office reorganization (12/4): The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved a reorganization of the office that oversees commercial launches in a bid to improve its efficiency as the number of launches grows. During a panel discussion at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce commercial space conference here December 3, Wayne Monteith, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson formally approved the reorganization of Monteith’s office the night before.

Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke named 2020 Texan of the Year
Houston Chronicle (12/3): Apollo 16’s Charlie Duke, the youngest of NASA’s Moon walkers, was named 2020 Texan of the Year in ceremonies Tuesday at Space Center Houston (SCH), the visitors’ venue for Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. The New Braunfels, Texas, resident, now 84, landed on the Moon with the late John Young in April 1972. The selection was made by the Texas Legislative Conference, a nonpartisan organization of Texas business and political leaders who meet annually to focus on public policy issues.

Space race: The next trillion-dollar economy?
Fox Business (12/3): The global space economy could eclipse $1 trillion annually by 2040, up from the current $350 billion. The growing space economy was the topic of a U.S. Chamber of Commerce space summit in Washington on Tuesday.

Today’s tidbits: December 3, 2019 (12/3): In Tidbits item 2, reports that SpaceX has paused Starship work at facilities in Cocoa, Florida, after a Mark 1 (Mk1) version of the Starship was damaged during a recent tanking test at company facilities in South Texas. In response to media inquiries, SpaceX explained that work on Starship at Cocoa has been “paused” in order to focus on the Mk3 prototype of the Starship, a rocket developed for deep space as well as orbital missions, in South Texas.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.