In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Welcome back and Happy New Year! Russia and U.S. plan to meet in the Spring to discuss Russia’s role in the NASA led Gateway. Record for longest mission by a women set by Christina Koch. New Mars 2020 rover may look like the previous rover, but it is no twin. ISRO says next launch to happen in 2021 or 2022. President Trump officially establishes U.S. Space Force.
Human Space Exploration
Russia, U.S. to discuss lunar Gateway station ‘closer to Spring’ – head of Roscosmos
Sputnik News (12/26): As spring nears, Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, plans to meet with NASA to discuss a role in the NASA led lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway. Gateway assembly is to begin in 2022 to function as a command module for NASA’s Artemis astronauts, explorers assigned to an accelerated human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024. Talks between the two space powers in 2017 that were to lead to Russia’s provision of life support and airlock components failed to materialize.
U.S. and Japan in talks to boost space ties, send Japanese astronauts to moon in 2020’s
The Mainichi of Japan (1/1): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is ready to discuss cooperation with Japan on future human exploration of the Moon. The discussion could lead to the lunar landing of a Japanese astronaut in the late 2020’s.
NASA astronaut setting record for longest mission by a woman
Collectspace.com (12/28): On December 28, NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) crew member Christina Koch broke the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman. The previous 289 day record was set by retired NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2016-17. Koch, who launched on March 24, 2019, is currently set to return to Earth on February 6, of after 328 days.
An astronaut got a blood clot in space. Here’s how doctors on Earth fixed it
Space.com (1/3): A chance discovery with ultrasound revealed a blood clot in an unidentified astronaut during a recent six month International Space Station (ISS) expedition. The find two months into the expedition might have revealed a potential health hazard to astronauts assigned to long duration, deep space missions. Medical experts on Earth treated the jugular vein clot with blood thinners. The clot appeared in one of 11 astronaut subjects participating in an experiment tracking changes in blood circulation.
NASA’s new Mars 2020 car may look like the Curiosity rover, but it’s no twin
Space.com (1/3): In July, NASA plans to return to the surface of Mars with the 2020 rover. Though it shares cost saving similarities with the Mars Curiosity rover, which is still in action after landing in 2012, the 2020 rover sports more cameras, including a video device, as well as microphones. Due to land at Jezero Crater in February 2021, the 2020 rover will search for evidence of past microbial life and gather and cache samples of the rock and soil for eventual return to Earth.
NASA mission to track near Earth objects takes shape
SpaceNews.com (12/30): The dual minibus appropriations measures signed by President Trump on December 20th, include $22.6 billion in funding for NASA through the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year, which ends September 30. The total includes $35.6 million to pursue a Near Earth Surveillance Mission using a small infrared space telescope to spot and track asteroids and comets that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. The $500 million to $600 million mission led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) would be launched in 2025 to pursue a Congressional objective of identifying threats 140 meters across or larger.
There’s water on alien planets, just not as much as scientists thought
Space.com (1/2): A University of Cambridge led study of the atmospheres around 19 extra solar planets found water but surprisingly less than predicted. The planets ranged in size from mini Neptune’s, 10 times the size of the Earth, to super Jupiter’s, 600 times as large. Fourteen of the planets had water vapor in their atmospheres. The findings were published in the Astrophysics Journal Letters.
Chandrayaan-3 launch may happen next year: ISRO
Deccan Herald of India (1/1): India has selected four members of its air force to train for spaceflight in Russia starting in early 2020. Their future flight will be focused on science experiments. Meanwhile, India plans a lander/rover successor to Chandrayaan 2, which failed in its attempt at a far side landing on the Moon in September. Chandrayaan-3 could launch in late 2021 or early 2022.
Diving and driving on icy moons: One strategy for exploring Enceladus and Europa
SpaceNews.com (12/25): Experts for years have pondered how best to explore the potentially habitable environments on the ocean worlds of Europa and Enceladus, the geothermally active moons of Jupiter and Saturn respectively. The Europa Clipper, currently under development by NASA, is to conduct a series of close flybys of Europa. But in order to reach the surface and perhaps descend into their ocean depths on a future mission may well require new capabilities than a lander. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is at work on developing and testing a concept called BRUIE, a robot that may be able to descend from a planetary surface into ocean depths to move around as though it were a rover.
Commerce Department to develop new estimate of the size of the space economy
SpaceNews.com (1/2): The U.S. Department of Commerce has initiated an independent assessment of the value of the U.S. space economy. The department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis will join with the Office of Space Commerce for the effort. Two current sources of annual estimates are the Satellite Industry Association and the Space Foundation, which provides a global estimate.
China and the U.S. will compete for launch supremacy in 2020
Ars Technica (1/3): China, Russia and the U.S. led the world in space launches during 2019. China and the U.S. are predicted to surge in 2020 tightening the global competition.
Trump officially establishes U.S. Space Force with 2020 defense bill signing
Space.com (12/21): In ceremonies late December 20, President Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which in part established the Space Force as a sixth branch of the U.S. military. Space Force begins as part of the U.S. Air Force and will be headquartered at the Pentagon and responsible for protecting U.S. national security space assets.
Successful Long March 5 launch paves way for new Chinese space missions
Spaceflightnow.com (12/27): China’s heavy lift Long March 5 returned to flight on December 27 for the first time since a July 2017 launch failure. The large rocket is crucial to China’s plans to launch a Mars lander in July/August, a lunar sample return mission and assemble an Earth orbiting space station. The December 27 payload was an experimental communications satellite.
The year in American spaceflight
Washington Post (12/29): A look back at 2019 in pictures as the U.S. commercial space industry and NASA made strides and confronted challenges while striving to re-establish capabilities to launch astronauts from U.S. soil and prepare for the human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Russia launches geostationary weather satellite
Spaceflightnow.com (12/25): Russia’s Elektro-L 3 weather satellite launched December 24 atop a Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite will provide weather data as well as environment monitoring.
Commercial suborbital carrier rocket launched in China
Xinhuanet of China (12/25): Space Trek, a Chinese commercial company, launched a suborbital rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on December 25 for weather observation and satellite payload experiments. China, which is encouraging commercial space activity, had more than 60 private companies in the commercial space industry as of December 2019.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Major space related activities for the week of January 5-11, 2020
Spacepolicyonline.com (1/5): The U.S. House and Senate are back in session. Currently, SpaceX is slated to conduct an uncrewed in flight abort test flight of its Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 on Thursday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The test flight is a critical milestone in efforts by SpaceX to achieve certification under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to begin regular transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting is underway this week in Hawaii.
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