Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 19th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The debate about most effective human deep space exploration strategy continues. Any course will require a heavy lift rocket investment. SpaceX opens a door to orbital space tourism with Space Adventures agreement. Michigan considers a spaceport.

Human Space Exploration

The pros and cons of a lunar pit stop
The Atlantic (2/18): As NASA strives for an accelerated return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024, the debate among policymakers, even veteran astronauts over whether to include the Moon first  as part of a strategy to explore Mars and how quickly continues.

Space Science

First research results on the ‘spectacular meteorite fall’ of Flensburg (2/18): Flensburg is a meteorite that fell to Earth in northern Germany last September. Soon recovered, it was presented to regional scientists for study. It turns out the stone is a rare carbonaceous chondrite with minerals that formed in water during the early history of the solar system.

Op Eds

Escaping the tyranny of the rocket equation
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Scientific American (2/18): NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Block 2 upgrades to the upper stage hold the promise of opening the Moon and Mars to human explorers. Access to resources at the Moon through heavy lift rocketry could turn the lunar environment into a low gravity staging site for missions beyond.

Editorial: NASA should step up Earth’s defense against asteroids
Post and Courier of Charleston South Carolina (2/18): This editorial calls for greater focus from policymakers and NASA on the threat posed to Earth by asteroids that pass close on their journey around the sun. “It should be clear the Earth needs a worldwide warning and management network to address such threats. It might sound like science fiction, but one day it could be all too real,” the editorial concludes, after noting the recent seventh anniversary of the explosion of a 56 foot wide meteorite over Chelyabinsk, Russia that damaged buildings and caused injuries to more than 1,000 people. The meteorite’s approach was undetected.

Hackers could shut down satellites or turn them into weapons (2/17): Surging numbers of small satellites working in global low Earth orbit constellations to provide connectivity have a potential little acknowledged downside, according to an op-ed from William Akoto. He maintains they offer a backdoor for potential hackers. The surge must be effectively regulated, Akoto argues and that is not easy given market forces.

Other News

Australia wants to help NASA build space station using robots (2/18): A new nationally funded Australian robotics center has joined with NASA to develop robotics with a potential to remotely assemble a space station around the Moon.

Space Adventures to fly tourists on Crew Dragon mission (2/18): SpaceX has signed an agreement with Virginia based Space Adventures to fly a future Crew Dragon mission with four space tourists. The high altitude orbital mission, perhaps more than 1,000 kilometers, is planned for as soon as late 2021.

Ariane 5 deploys communications and environmental monitoring satellites (2/18): An Ariane 5 rocket successfully lifted off Tuesday evening from French Guiana with a Japanese communications and South Korean weather satellites.

Michigan wants to become next site for space launch facility
Detroit Free Press (2/18): State authorities are looking at establishing a spaceport, one limited to runway operations for low Earth orbit satellite launches and space tourism, at Wurtsmith Airport in northern Michigan, a former U.S. Air Force base.

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