Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 11th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley wrap up training for their Demo-2 test flight, as a planned May 27 liftoff nears.  

Human Space Exploration

Dragon astronauts wrap up training, prepare to enter quarantine (5/8): NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the first fliers designated to launch into orbit from the U.S. since the final NASA space shuttle mission in July 2011, completed their training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) last week. They will enter preflight quarantine on Wednesday, then travel from Johnson to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to prepare for a May 27 liftoff of the NASA Commercial Crew/SpaceX Demo-2 mission test flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

Record-breaking astronaut Christina Koch on making space history and surviving lengthy isolation
The Verge (5/8): On February 6, Koch returned to Earth after a 328 day mission to the International Space Station (ISS), a new record for women. She also participated in the first three all women spacewalks. Now teleworking, Koch has some advice on dealing with the social distancing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: “avoid sensory underload.” An electrical engineer, Koch was selected by NASA for astronaut training in 2013 and is believed to be among those who could be chosen for NASA’s Artemis 3, a 2024 mission intended to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon.

Space Science

NASA hires NOAA official as new Earth science director (5/10): Karen St. Germain has been selected as the new director of NASA’s Earth science division effective June 8. She’s currently deputy assistant administrator for systems at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, operators of NOAA’s fleet of weather satellites.

Inside the world’s largest sun-spotting telescope (5/10): An up close look inside the National Space Foundation’s (NSF) new Daniel K. Inoye Solar Telescope, the largest observatory of its kind in the world. Still emerging amidst protests because of its location on sacred ground atop Mount Haleakal on the island of Maui in Hawaii, the observatory named for the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inoye will offer astronomers greater insight into the magnetic and plasma nature of the sun.

Op Eds

Arab world should seize opportunities of joint space program
Arab News (5/8): An op-ed urges Arab nations to join a global effort to resume human deep space exploration, the topic of an executive order issued in April by President Trump that supports the exploration for and use of resources found on planetary bodies. “Unlike the Cold War-driven model of the past, the future of space will be global. Now is the time for Arab nations to seize the opportunity to make their mark on the future of humanity and incorporate their cultural legacy into the societies, structures and ideals that will accompany all of humanity on its expansion into space,” writes Ryan Faith.

Other News

Colorado lawmaker going to bat for space industry in pandemic
Politico (5/8): Congress must resist the temptation to cut funding from military space programs despite the enormous financial pressure on the defense budget from combating the coronavirus, says Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Lamborn, whose district includes a host of space companies and is lining up to host the headquarters of the new U.S. Space Command, believes supporting space programs is one of the best things Congress can do to help the wider space industry get through the economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic.

FAA establishes spaceport office to support growing number of launch sites (5/8): As directed by Congress, the FAA has established an office to support U. S. licensed spaceport activities. The Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority is the latest of 12 facilities with a license, which was granted May 5. The new FAA Office of Spaceports is intended to help with infrastructure improvements, technical support and promotion.

NASA selects Paragon Space Development to develop advanced cryogenic tank
Coalition Member in the News – Paragon Space Development Corporation
Parabolic Arc (5/9): Paragon Space Development Corp. will continue to develop a new tank designed to better store cryogenic propellants with the help of funding from NASA. The space agency selected Paragon’s ellipsoidal propellant tank (EPT) for continued funding under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The phase II award is worth up to $750,000 over two years. NASA funded the project under a smaller phase I award. The EPT is an “innovative pressure vessel designed to provide the lowest cost and mass solution to the long-term containment of cryogenic fluids. The design is based on Thin Red Line Aerospace’s (TRLA) Ultra-High Pressure Vessel (UHPV) technology which has the highest specific strength of any competing design,” Paragon said in its proposal summary.

10-story-tall NASA logo being repainted for new astronaut launches (5/11): With the U.S. close to hosting the launch of human space explorers for the first time since July 2011 and preparing to resume the human exploration of the lunar surface in 2024, the iconic NASA meatball and American flag emblems on the exterior of the towering Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) are getting a fresh coat of red, white and blue paint. Launch of the NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 test flight mission with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley is set for May 27.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 10-16, 2020 (5/10): A virtual NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration and Operations Committee session scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday may provide more insight into the agency’s unfolding lunar Human Lander System (HLS) strategy and plans for a lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway and how they relate in accelerating a human return to the surface of the Moon to 2024. NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel is to convene virtually on Friday, less than two weeks before Demo-2 is to launch from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil since NASA’s shuttle fleet was retired in July 2011. Meanwhile the U.S. Senate is in session in Washington this week, the House available on a virtual, proforma basis.

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