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Today’s Deep Space Extra - Explore Deep Space
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Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 15th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Spacewalks outside of the ISS resumed this morning to upgrade the spacecraft’s power systems. Mars2020, slated to launch in July, is the first step in returning samples to Earth from Mars. Gen. John “Jay” Raymond sworn in as the first chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force.  

Human Space Exploration

Spacewalkers begin work to upgrade power systems
NASA (1/15): NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch began a planned 6 1/2 hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday at 5:50 a.m., EST, They are resuming the exchange of new more efficient lithium ion solar power batteries for older nickel hydrogen units, a multi spacewalk effort that was halted in October when a battery charge/discharge unit failed. They are to spacewalk again on January 20 to wrap up the task, which includes the overall installation of six lithium ion for 12 nickel hydrogen batteries on the port side of the station’s long solar power truss. The batteries provide electricity while the Station is orbiting in darkness.

SpaceX, Boeing compete to launch astronauts to International Space Station (ISS)
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Florida Today (1/14): Since their selection in 2014, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners Boeing and SpaceX have been in an unofficial competition to determine which would become the first to transport astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station (ISS). Russia’s Soyuz has furnished the only means of launch and deorbit for astronauts since the 2011 retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet. Both Boeing and SpaceX are working towards NASA Commercial Crew Program certification this year to begin launching Space Station crews. SpaceX is scheduled to conduct an uncrewed launch abort test of the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 on Saturday. 

Sierra Nevada explores other uses of Dream Chaser
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance
SpaceNews.com (1/14): Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser is expected to begin NASA contracted resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2021. Sierra, however, is also continuing efforts to develop a crewed version of the winged lifting body which is designed to launch on the forthcoming United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket and to equip the spacecraft with an external cargo module called Shooting Star. As envisioned, Shooting Star could support a range of robotic and crewed activities. “The truth is, it’s a module attached to Dream Chaser than can be modified to do just about anything you might want it to do,” said Steve Lindsey, a retired NASA astronauts who serves as a Sierra senior vice president. Dream Chaser is the only cargo vessel designed to return to Earth with a runway landing.

What the 2010’s taught us about women in space
SpaceNews.com (1/14): A look at the rise of the female influence on the future of human space exploration.

First he was a Navy SEAL. Then he went to Harvard Medical School. The Moon could be next
Washington Post (1/14): Jonny Kim was among 11 women and men celebrated last Friday as they completed two years of basic astronaut training with NASA to qualify for future human space flight assignments. Kim, 35, blazes a trail as the first Korean-American to achieve the milestone. Kim is a U.S. Navy Seal and a graduate of Harvard Medical School.

Space Science

Astronomers just found (another) potentially habitable exoplanet. What happens next?
Scientific America (1/14): When scientists search for alien planets, they get a special thrill when they find one that seems to reflect our own world back to us. TOI 700 d is the newest member of that elite club. The planet was discovered courtesy of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), as one of three worlds in a distant solar system. Unlike its neighbors — and the vast majority of planets scientists have identified so far — it seems to be about the same size as Earth and to orbit its star at a distance that would allow water to remain liquid on its surface. The discovery was announced January 6 at the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

A Mars sample-return mission is coming. Scientists want the public to know what to expect
Space.com (1/13): NASA’s 2020 Mars rover is scheduled to launch in July of this year and land inside the Red Planet’s 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater next February. The six-wheeled robot will do a variety of work once it gets there, but its headline task is hunting for signs of ancient Mars life. Mars 2020 will do this on the ground in Jezero, which hosted a lake and a river delta billions of years ago. The rover will also collect and cache promising samples for eventual return to Earth, where scientists in well-equipped labs around the world can scrutinize them in exacting detail for any evidence of Martian organisms.

Other News

Raymond sworn in as the first chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force
SpaceNews.com (1/14): In ceremonies Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Gen. John “Jay” Raymond as the first chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, the sixth branch of the U.S. military established as 2019 drew to a close.

Space companies raised a record $5.8 billion in private investments last year
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
CNBC (1/14): Private investment in commercial space activities reached $5.8 billion in 2019, a record, according to Space Angels, a New York investment firm. The previous record was $5.1 billion from 2017.

Rocket Lab to open a new combined HQ, mission control and production facility in Long Beach
Tech Crunch (1/14): Add to Rocket Lab’s launch site presence on Wallops Island, Virginia, a new headquarters complex in Long Beach, California. The HQ will also host production facilities and a sister flight control center to the original in New Zealand.

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