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

February 26th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Launch Abort System for NASA’s Orion crew capsule achieved a critical milestone with a final test fire on Tuesday. As NASA readies the Mars 2020 rover for a July mission to Mars, a joint European/Russian mission is racing to address an issue with the parachute landing system. President Trump speaks of future cooperation in space during a visit to India. 

Human Space Exploration

Fired up! Final test of Orion motor critical to astronaut safety a spectacular success
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASA (2/25): The attitude control motor (ACM) for the launch abort system – a critical part of NASA’s Orion capsule, which will launch astronauts on deep space missions –  completed its qualification testing Tuesday with a 30 second hot fire. The multi-motor Launch Abort System will sit atop Orion and the Space Launch System (SLS) in order to propel and steer the capsule and its crew to safety in the event of a rocket emergency. 

Photo essay: How do NASA astronauts train for spacewalks? In a giant swimming pool lab
Houston Chronicle (2/25): NASA’s giant Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL), a giant pool of water overseen by the Johnson Space Center (JSC), is crucial to the preparation for and training of astronauts assigned to spacewalks on current and future missions.

Space Science

Trump says India, U.S. will together explore stars & space, hails Chandrayaan-2 mission
Times of India (2/25): While visiting India earlier this week, President Trump spoke of a future relationship with India in the exploration of space and praised the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) for its bold but failed attempt to soft land the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft and rover at the Moon’s south pole last September.

Alien-life hunters are eyeing icy ocean moons Europa and EnceladusSpace.com (2/25): Mars is teaching the astrobiological community about the search for evidence of life beyond Earth. The next destinations, however, may be Europa and Enceladus, the icy surface moons of Jupiter and Saturn that appear to host sub surface oceans and rocky cores. JUICE, a European Space Agency (ESA) mission, as well as the Europa Clipper, a NASA mission, are set to launch to Jupiter to take the search beyond Mars with launches in the early 2020’s.

Delay seems likely as parachute problems plague European Mars lander
Ars Technica (2/25):  July marks a much anticipated favorable alignment between the Earth and Mars for the launches of two rovers developed to seek out evidence for past microbial life on the Red Planet. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover appears well on its way to a July launch with arrival at Jezero Crater in February 2021. The European Space Agency (ESA)/Roscosmos’ Rosalind Franklin rover and Kazachok lander, however, are struggling to overcome difficulties with the parachutes that are to help slow their descent onto the Martian surface. Representatives from the two agencies are to meet March 12 to assess what happens next.

Other News

DARPA’s working on a nuclear-powered rocket for east Moon access
Futurism.com (2/25): The Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations is a Pentagon initiative directed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a nuclear powered rocket for access to the space realm between the Earth and the Moon. The vehicle’s role would be to maneuver payloads in cislunar space once they have been launched with traditional rockets.

Virgin Galactic sees demand for space travel surge
BBC (2/26): Virgin Galactic reports almost 8,000 “registrations of interest” for anticipated suborbital flights aboard its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which have been under development for much of the past two decades. That is double the number of registrations as of last September, showing growing market interest despite a 4th quarter 2019 loss. Passenger flights are anticipated to begin at some point later this year based on tickets priced at $250,000.

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