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Today’s Deep Space Extra - Explore Deep Space

Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 27th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… In Washington, the policy making House Science, Space and Technology Committee initiates a new debate over a Moon vs. Mars human exploration focus. Outside the International Space Station (ISS), spacewalking astronauts complete repairs to a cosmic ray observatory. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross calls for international agreements on potentially disruptive commercial space activities.

Human Space Exploration

Bipartisan House NASA authorizers reject Artemis Moon-by-2024 plan, wants focus on Mars instead
Spacepolicyonline.com (1/25): Plans by the White House to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon by 2024 received a jolt on Friday with a NASA authorization measure introduced by the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the panel’s space subcommittee. “The Moon to Mars program shall have the interim goal of sending a crewed mission to the lunar surface by 2028 and a goal of sending a crewed mission to orbit Mars by 2033,” according to the bill, H.R. 5666, introduced by U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, chair of the panel’s space subcommittee. The measure would also remove the lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway as a requirement for the human lunar surface activities and redesignates it as a “Gateway to Mars.” NASA would not explore the lunar surface for resources and the agency would no longer look to commercial partners to carry out lunar surface landings. Instead, the landings would rely on hardware launched by NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) equipped with a more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The bill would extend NASA oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) from 2024 to at least 2028.  The bill also contains several directions for NASA science, including provisions supporting science missions CLARREO and WFIRST, and leaves the determination of a launch vehicle for the Europa Clipper mission to the NASA Administrator.

House introduces NASA authorization bill that emphasizes Mars over Moon
SpaceNews.com (1/24): The leadership of the House Science Committee introduced a NASA authorization bill January 24 that seeks to significantly alter NASA’s current plans to return humans to the Moon and make them part of an effort to send humans to Mars. The bill, designated H.R. 5666 and introduced by Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), chair of the committee’s space subcommittee, seeks to put a human return to the Moon within the context of a larger “Moon to Mars” program that would no longer have the goal of returning humans to the surface of the Moon by 2024, as Vice President Pence announced in March 2019. “The Moon to Mars program shall have the interim goal of sending a crewed mission to the lunar surface by 2028 and a goal of sending a crewed mission to orbit Mars by 2033,” the bill states.

Astronauts finish repairs to Space Station cosmic ray detector
Spaceflightnow.com (1/25): U.S. and European astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano teamed for a spacewalk on Saturday in which they completed an upgrade of the cooling system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a cosmic ray observatory that rests on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS). Initially, it seemed the four spacewalk overhaul may have experienced a set back with a leak in one of eight liquid coolant circulation tubes. But Parmitano managed a repair. Launched in May 2011 to seek out anti-matter and study the composition of dark matter, the AMS was designed for a three year lifespan and no repairs. The upgrade is intended to extend the life of the AMS to the end of Space Station operations.

Star bucks: These 5 local firms are on the hunt for NASA lunar deal
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Dynetics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
Orlando Business Journal (1/23): Teams led by Blue Origin that includes Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman; Boeing; and a Dynetics partnership with Sierra Nevada are among those vying for contracts expected to be awarded soon by NASA to develop human lunar landers as part of the Artemis initiative. Artemis is a strategy to accelerate a human return to the Moon in 2024 to establish a sustainable human presence and prepare for the exploration of Mars.

Space Science

Across China: Gigantic telescope helps nurture future astronomers in China
Xinhuanet of China (1/26): China’s leadership views the Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope which was recently placed into operation, as a nationwide key to the advancement of education and research development.

Other News

Wilbur Ross fears ‘Wild West situation’ as international space race gathers steam
CNBC (1/22): U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was among those in Davos, Switzerland last week for the World Economic Forum. Ross commented that a lack of a global agreement on future human space activity could lead to a “Wild West” like environment with regard to activities planetary bodies and the discovery of resources they may hold. Those and other exchanges on the topic follow a decision by the White House and Congress to establish the U.S. Space Force, as a sixth branch of the U.S. military to protect national interests.

Astroscale awarded grant to commercialize active debris removal services
Spacedaily.com (1/24): The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s “Innovation Tokyo Project” has awarded $4.5 million to Astroscale to develop a road map for the commercialization of space debris removal services. The award equals half the request and will fund the effort over three years. Astroscale plans a demonstration mission in 2020.

Fallen SpaceShipTwo pilot’s name added to Space Mirror Memorial
Collectspace.com (1/26): The name of Michael Alsbury, who perished in a 2014 test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital space plane, the VSS Enterprise, was added Saturday to the Space Mirror Memorial at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The memorial was established in 1991 to pay tribute to astronauts who died while on U.S. government missions or training activities. Alsbury’s name joins 24 others. He is the first to be recognized for his service to commercial spaceflight.

NASA appoints two new center directors 
SpaceNews.com (1/24): Last Thursday and Friday, NASA announced the appointments of Dennis Andrucyk to lead the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Marla Pérez-Davis to lead the Glenn Research Center in Ohio. Both had been leading their centers on an acting basis.

DirecTV is moving one of its satellites to a safer orbit over fears of explosion
The Verge (1/24): DirectTV is taking measures to move a satellite with a battery issue that might trigger an explosion that could expose other satellites to debris impacts. The Spaceway-1 satellite was launched in 2005 and resides in geostationary orbit. It experienced difficulty in December that thermally damaged a battery that could cause it to burst by the end of February.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of January 26 to February 1, 2020
Spacepolicyonline.com (1/26): Thursday marks NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, a national tribute to the 17 astronauts who perished in the 1967 Apollo 1 fire and the 1986 and 2003 shuttle Challenger and Columbia tragedies. Also, Wednesday at 2 p.m., EST, the U. S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Space Subcommittee plans to markup the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2020 released late Friday, which reinstates 2028 over 2024 as the date for a NASA led return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers, but calls for a human expedition to Mars orbit in 2033 and surface expeditions thereafter. The measure removes the Gateway requirement from the human lunar return and stresses the urgency of the Space Launch System with Exploration Upper Stage over commercial landers for reaching the Moon’s surface with astronauts among other changes. Washington will host the Commercial Space Transportation Conference on Wednesday and Thursday. The Senate as well as the House are in session.

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