In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Artemis 1, the uncrewed first joint test flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion capsule is anticipated for mid to late 2021. Boeing pledges more rigorous flight software testing prior to future CST-100 Starliner missions. Meteorite shows first evidence of extraterrestrial protein. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to speak Thursday on strategic nature of the agency’s Moon/Mars plans.
Human Space Exploration
Jurczyk: Artemis 1 to launch in mid-late 2021, HLS contracts within weeks
Spacepolicyonline.com (3/1): Anticipate mid to late 2021 for the first joint launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion crew capsule, an uncrewed trek of Orion around the Moon and back to the Earth for an ocean splashdown and recovery, NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurcyk said Friday. He spoke before the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL).
House Science Committee prepares to take up NASA authorization bill
SpaceNews.com (3/10): In an interview, U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, says the full Committee is likely to take up H.R. 5666, the NASA Authorization Act of 2020 at some point in March. One early concern, that the panel was easing off an accelerated return to the surface of the Moon by NASA in 2024, is not the case, according to Horn. The subcommittee’s version also received criticism for provisions that seem to oppose public/private partnerships to develop lunar landers to support future human lunar landings. That, too, is a concern receiving attention. But Horn added she prefers government ownership of the landers.
Boeing implementing more rigorous testing of Starliner after software problems
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
SpaceNews.com (2/28): As an independent review board assessment of Boeing’s truncated uncrewed CST-100 Starliner test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) nears a conclusion, the contractor announced Friday plans for a more rigorous strategy for assessing flight software prior to future launches. During the December 20-22 flight, a software lapse prevented the Starliner capsule from raising its post launch altitude in order to dock with the Space Station, a primary objective. That prompted the inflight discovery of a second software lapse that was corrected prior to a successful landing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The second error might have led to contact between the crew and service modules after they separated as the crew module was preparing to descend to Earth.
Boeing provides update, path forward for Starliner
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
NASAspaceflight.com (2/28): Much of Boeing’s truncated uncrewed December CST-100 Starliner test flight went well despite two known software lapses, one that prevented plans to dock with the International Space Station (ISS), John Mulholland, company vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, told a Friday news briefing. The successes that emerged from the two day orbital mission include the performance of the environmental control and life support system; thrusters; avionics cooling; the heat shield; and solar power generation systems. Mulholland declared it too soon yet to point to a time frame for the next test flight and whether it will be with crew or without.
ESA head Woerner confirms plans not to seek another term
SpaceNews.com (2/29): In a blog, European Space Agency (ESA) Director General Jan Woerner has disclosed that he does not plan to serve in the post beyond his current term, which ends in July 2021. Woerner led DLR, the German Space Agency, prior to taking the ESA post in July 2015. Woerner was a major proponent of a Moon Village, a human settlement on the Moon for government and commercial partners much like the International Space Station (ISS) partnership.
SpaceX targeting next week for Space Coast’s next rocket launch
Florida Today (2/28): NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Friday at 11:50 p.m., EST, for the launch of the next NASA contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The 20th cargo delivery by SpaceX is also to mark the final flight of the Dragon 1 version of the capsule. The follow on Dragon 2 was developed in versions for astronaut passengers and cargo.
Freeman Dyson, math genius turned visionary technologist, dies at 96
New York Times (2/28): Renowned physicist Freeman Dyson died on Friday near Princeton, New Jersey. Also known for his scientific independence and writings, Dyson was 96. One of his proposals suggests that an advanced civilization will need all the energy its star can produce, prompting it to construct a spherical structure around the star, known as a Dyson Sphere, to lock in all the energy.
Scientist discover protein in a meteorite
Futurism (2/27): The discovery of a protein in a meteorite designated Acter 086 is a first and it differs in makeup from terrestrial proteins. Amino acids have been detected in meteorites previously indicating past impacts with the Earth may have delivered the chemical building blocks for life. However, none of the previous amino acid discoveries was large or complete enough to qualify as a protein.
Light from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites ruins space photos, says Russian government agency
Newsweek (2/28): Russia’s Academy of Sciences plans to appear before the U.N. to complain about the interference of light reflected by SpaceX’s growing Starlink global constellation of small communications satellites on observations by astronomers. Russia’s concerns are shared by the European Space Agency (ESA), according to the report.
NASA awards launch services contract for the Psyche mission
NASA (2/29): NASA announced the selection of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy on Friday as the launch vehicle for the Psyche mission, a journey to a metal rich asteroid in the main asteroid belt, which may offer clues about the Earth’s own iron rich core. The $117 million launch planned for July 2022 will also include a pair of secondary payloads for studies of the Martian atmosphere and binary asteroids.
Second Starship prototype damaged in pressurization test
SpaceNews.com (3/1): Observer video reveals that a liquid nitrogen pressurization test of SpaceX’s Starship SN1r prototype went awry late Friday at company facilities in South Texas. A video feed suggests the prototype was destroyed due apparently to structural failure. An earlier prototype, Starship Mark1, also broke apart during a pressurization test in November. As of publication, SpaceX had not commented on the latest incident.
Major Space Related Activities for the Week
Major space related activities for the week of March 1-7, 2020
Spacepolicyonline.com (3/1): The U.S. Congress this week begins hearings on the Administration’s proposed budget for 2021. On Friday, NASA and Boeing will brief on the difficulties encountered December 20-22 during the truncated uncrewed test flight of the company’s CST-100 Starliner mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The first of two software lapses prevented the capsule from raising its initial orbit in order to dock with the ISS, a test objective. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is slated to speak Thursday on the “Strategic Implications of NASA’s Moon to Mars Plan.” before the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, EST, and webcast (https://www.csis.org/events/strategic-implications-nasas-moon-mars-plan).
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