Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 31st, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance offered tribute Thursday to those who have sacrificed their lives for the exploration of space as well as their friends and family. Spitzer Space Telescope ends mission of astronomical discovery.

Human Space Exploration

NASA community honors fallen heroes on 2020 Day of Remembrance (1/30): Thursday marked NASA’s annual Day of Remembrance, a nationwide tribute to the men and women who’ve sacrificed their lives to advance the human exploration of space. Dozens gathered at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington D.C. to observe the loss, the Space Mirror Memorial at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida’s Space Coast, the Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) Memorial Grove in Houston and the other NASA field centers to remember those who died in the January 27, 1967 Apollo 1 fire and aboard the shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986 and shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003.

Houston company to train private astronauts at NASA facilities
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space
Houston Chronicle (1/30): NASA contractor KBR has entered a Space Act agreement with NASA to support the training of private astronauts prepared to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the agency’s efforts to transition its human low Earth orbit activities to the private sector in order to focus on future human deep space exploration. Earlier this week, NASA selected Axiom Space, of Houston, to develop and launch a module to the Space Station as a habitat and work volume for commercial astronauts.

Space Science

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope ends mission of astronomical discovery
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1/30): Late Thursday, NASA’s near 16-year-old Spitzer Space Telescope was placed in safe mode and its mission formally declared at an end. One of NASA’s original Great Observatories, Spitzer’s legacy includes the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets in the Trappist-1 system, a record.  Spitzer’s astrophysics role is to be inherited by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), also an infrared telescope, planned for launch in March 2021.

Space-time is swirling around a dead star, proving Einstein right again (1/30): Observations of a rotating white dwarf star in the binary star system PSR J1141-6545 confirms another consequence of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity that space-time will churn around a massive, rotating body.

Other News

NASA to allow researchers to fly on commercial suborbital vehicles (1/31): NASA plans for the first time to allow researchers to fly with their payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, ending years of debate and deliberation. NASA released January 29 a draft solicitation seeking payloads for its Flight Opportunities program, which provides rides for such payloads on high-altitude balloons, parabolic aircraft flights and commercial suborbital vehicles. That includes reusable suborbital spacecraft currently being flight tested by Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic. In the past, researchers could propose flying payloads on Blue Origin’s New Shepard or Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, but the payloads had to be automated. In the draft solicitation, researchers can, for the first time, propose flying with their payloads on those vehicles.

Rocket Lab successfully launches NRO satellite (1/30): A Rocket Lab small satellite Electron launch vehicle lifted off successfully from New Zealand Thursday at 9:56 p.m., EST, with a classified payload for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) called NROL-151. The company’s U.S. activities are headquartered in Huntington Beach, California.

Xplore partners with NanoRacks to set up opportunities for deep-space missions
Coalition Member in the News – NanoRacks (1/29): Xplore, of Seattle, has joined with NanoRacks, of Houston, to establish ride share opportunities for secondary payloads on deep space missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. The first mission could unfold in late 2021.

Spaceport America announces new tenants, projects nearly $1B economic impact
Las Cruses Sun-News of New Mexico (1/30): The long struggle to establish the Spaceport America launch site in New Mexico is paying off, according to an economic impact study released Thursday. The state had recovered the cost of $220 million in public funding for construction of the facility, built between 2006 and 2012 in Sierra County, during the 2013 fiscal year, according to the study. The launch site’s economic impact is forecast to reach nearly $1 billion by 2025, with $33 million in direct economic stimulus and 150 industry jobs achieved in 2019 alone.

Japanese billionaire calls off girlfriend contest for Moon trip on SpaceX Starship (1/30): Earlier this year, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, announced plans to soar around the Moon aboard a SpaceX Starship mission with several artists and a yet to be named girlfriend, selected from a televised contest called “Full Moon Lovers.” On Wednesday, Maezawa announced he was cancelling the girlfriend plan, following a round of social media conveyed criticism that suggested the plan was counter intuitive to the strides women have made in the exploration of space.

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