Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 2nd, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… News of a reorganization of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate may be coming soon. Thousands of highly STEM educated Americans apply for NASA’s astronaut corps. Canada space spending to increase.

Human Space Exploration

NASA planning reorganization of human spaceflight directorate (4/1): NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations will soon implement a restructuring of the directorate that oversees International Space Station (ISS) operations and commercial crew activities as well as the Artemis initiative focused on an accelerated human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024. Word of the changes, coming in weeks, was offered the National Academies’ Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, which convened virtually on Wednesday.

NASA call for astronauts draws 12,000 spaceflight hopefuls
Associated Press via Washington Post (4/1): More than 12,000 aspirants from across the U.S. applied for NASA astronaut training during March, the agency announced Wednesday. Final selections are expected during the summer of 2021. Currently NASA counts 48 astronauts either eligible for flight assignments, in training or serving aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The newest astronauts could be assigned missions to explore the Moon and Mars during the 2020’s and 2030’s.

Space Science

NASA’s next robotic Moon landings in 2021 still on track despite coronavirus pandemic
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic (4/1): So far, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines are both on track to commercially land 13 NASA payloads associated with the Artemis initiative to the surface of the Moon in 2021. Each company is proceeding through telework in response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, future work associated with the payloads as well as the landers could be paused by the virus, according to a presentation before the National Academies of Science earlier this week.

NASA and ESA to fund coronavirus projects (4/1): Working independently the European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian Space Agency and NASA are making efforts to help confront the coronavirus. In Europe, communications, navigation and Earth observations are being sought to support health care and education services in Italy, which has been hard hit. NASA wishes to make innovative use of space assets to help provide environmental, economic and social benefits in confronting the virus.

Other News

Canadian Space Agency budget increases 20% for 2020-21
SpaceQ of Canada (4/1): The Canadian Space Agency’s 2020-21 budget for space is set at $395 million, a 20 percent increase. However, it’s unclear how the increase addresses plans to by Canada to participate the NASA led development of a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway.

Orbit Fab gets award to test satellite refueling technology (3/31): Orbit Fab, of San Francisco, has received a National Science Foundation grant to test a docking system for a satellite refueling strategy that was evaluated earlier aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX preparing Starship SN3 for ground and flight testing (3/31): SpaceX’s SN3 Starship prototype has been moved to a south Texas launch pad, where it is expected to undergo ground and flight tests, perhaps this week. The SN3 was developed around difficulties encountered during previous development tests.

In parallel with rocket development, Firefly launches lunar lander initiative (4/1): Austin, Texas based Firefly is developing an advanced version of the SpaceIL lunar lander called Genesis in hope of delivering NASA contracted science payloads to the surface of the Moon by the end of 2022. An announcement is expected this month. Firefly is one of 14 companies available to NASA for lunar science missions. Genesis is based on Space IL’s Beresheet, which attempted unsuccessfully to land on the Moon in early 2019.

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