Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 18th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA introduces Artemis Accords, a set of principles for other nations to partnering with the U.S. for the exploration of deep space. NASA facilities begin to re-open. The U.S. National Space Council, which meets this week, introduces new members to its Users Advisory Group. Demo-2, the first launch of NASA astronauts from the U.S. in nine years, nears a May 27 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Human Space Exploration

NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility to partially reopen (5/17): NASA’s production site for the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsules are partially reopening today, with some workers returning to the site for the first time in two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stennis returning as battle to protect SLS maiden launch in 2021 restarts (5/15): NASA’s Stennis Space Center has resumed hands on work activities that were restricted in March in response to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Upcoming activities include preparations for a Space Launch System (SLS) “green run,” or full duration, eight minute ground test firing of the large rocket’s four core stage rocket engines. While a new target date has yet to be announced, it could be in the mid-autumn time frame.

NASA unveils “Artemis Accords” (5/16): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday unveiled the “Artemis Accords,” proposed standards for emerging global interest in joining with the U.S. for the exploration of deep space with humans as well as robotic spacecraft. Many of the principles emerge from existing agreements among the 15 partner nations in the U.S. led International Space Station (ISS), while also recognizing key differences between the ISS and Artemis programs. In all, there are 10 basic principles of behavior, including transparency, debris removal and respect for past exploration milestones, such as the Apollo landing sites.

NASA’s Artemis Accords for Moon include protecting Apollo sites (5/15): Under the Artemis Accords unveiled Friday by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the first lunar landing sites by the Apollo astronauts and early robotic missions would be considered “space heritage” and protected because of their special place in the history of space exploration.

Russia’s Roscosmos says ready to discuss Moon exploration with NASA
Sputnik International (5/16): Russia is ready to discuss with NASA cooperation for the exploration of the Moon, according to Russia’s deputy director general for international cooperation. The comments from Sergei Savelyev on Saturday followed by a day NASA’s unveiling of the Artemis Accords, a set of principles for bilateral cooperation in the future exploration of deep space intended to promote a peaceful environment, transparency and shared science.

Space Science

Take a peek inside a giant star right before it dies
Universe Today (5/15): The largest stars transition from one chemical fuel to another as they age. When the end approaches, stars form a gigantic plasma onion, with a core of iron, surrounded by layers of fused silicon, magnesium, carbon, oxygen, helium, and hydrogen. The end arrives when they are unable to fuse any element heavier than iron without losing energy. Then comes an explosion.

Other News

White House updates membership of Space Council advisory group
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance, Purdue University, and Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO, Coalition for Deep Space Exploration (5/16): Vice President Mike Pence, the U.S. National Space Council chair, announced nominations and changes to the Users Advisory Group. Two women and three men replace four previous board members. The newcomers include a former Texas congressman, Florida’s lieutenant governor, a University of Colorado scientist, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s president and a Lockheed Martin board member. Retired U.S. Navy Admiral James Ellis remains as chair.

Atlas 5 rocket launches Pentagon space plane on mission shrouded in secrecy
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance
CBS News (5/17): A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 lifted off Sunday at 9:14 a.m., EDT, initiating the next mission of the U.S. Air Force’s reusable Boeing built, X-37B space plane on a largely classified mission. The launch followed a one day delay for poor weather.

Bridenstine scolds China over Long March reentry debris (5/15): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine publicly called out China on Friday for its oversight of the May 5 orbital test launch of the Long March 5B rocket with a human spacecraft prototype. The spacecraft, which did not have a crew on board, was recovered. However the 5B’s massive core stage remained in orbit until an uncontrolled re-entry on May 11, raining debris on the Ivory Coast of West Africa. Both New York City and Los Angeles were in the flight path, noted Bridenstine, who added the incident underscores the case for the Artemis Accords unveiled by NASA on Friday.

Air Force widens search for future location of U.S. Space Command (5/15): On Friday, the U.S. Air Force opened bidding from states with large military complexes to become the U.S. Space Command headquarters. Proposals are due June 30, with a selection anticipated in early 2021. Actual opening would like take six years for construction of facilities for a 1,400 member staff. Until then, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, will continue to serve as the provisional headquarters.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 17-23, 2020 (5/17): Vice President Pence on Tuesday chairs a previously postponed session of the National Space Council, which will be live streamed by NASA. A two day COSPAR hosted workshop on planetary protection for future human Mars exploration gets underway as well and the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee holds a daylong session. On Wednesday, the NASA/SpaceX Demo 2 crew of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley hosts a pre-launch news conference from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), their May 27 launch site, and Japan launches its ninth cargo mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Thursday evening, NASA/SpaceX host a post Demo-2 flight readiness review news conference. Behnken and Hurley will host a virtual news conference on Friday.

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