Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 26th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Plans by NASA and SpaceX to launch U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) were rigorously reviewed before and over the Memorial Day Weekend. Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are to liftoff for the ISS from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m., EDT, an instant launch window. The weather outlook, which will be watched closely, was 60 percent favorable as Tuesday got underway.  

Human Space Exploration

SpaceX, NASA give final ‘go’ for historic astronaut launch Wednesday (5/25): NASA and SpaceX followed up Friday’s Demo-2 mission Flight Readiness Review on Monday with a Launch Readiness Review. Both reviews  where conducted by NASA and SpaceX managers from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), site of the planned May 27 at 4:33 p.m., EDT launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) on a commercial Crew Dragon spacecraft. The weather outlook is 60 percent favorable, according to forecasters.

SpaceX Demo-2 commercial crew mission passes flight readiness review (5/22): On Friday, plans for the launch Wednesday of the NASA Commercial Crew Program/SpaceX Demo-2 test flight to the ISS with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley cleared an important milestone, a two-day Flight Readiness Review, in which all of the managers assessed the development history before giving a formal go ahead. “In the end, it was a very, very clean review,” NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk summed it up for a news briefing. There were, however, some significant discussions on the Crew Dragon’s abort thruster engines and the parachutes that deploy at the end of the mission.

SpaceX, Falcon 9 for Demo-2 mission conducts critical static fire test (5/22): Shortly after Friday’s Flight Readiness Review by top NASA/SpaceX managers ahead of a planned launch Wednesday of the Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, SpaceX briefly fired the first stage engines of the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, a standard pre-launch static fire test.

The next Americans in space
Washington Post (5/25): NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 test pilots Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley speak with eagerness about their scheduled launch Wednesday at 4:33 p.m., EDT, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the first trip to orbit from the U.S. by astronauts since NASA’s space shuttle fleet was retired in July 2011. Both are from the military, married to astronauts and fathers of young sons.

Japanese cargo ship arrives at Space Station to make one last delivery (5/25): Japan’s ninth resupply mission reached the International Space Station (ISS) with a four ton cargo on Monday, two days before the NASA/SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 test flight with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley is scheduled to liftoff for the three person orbiting science lab. Launched on May 20, the Japanese freighter was grappled with the Station’s Canadian robot arm by NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner and berthed to the Harmony module for a two month stay.

Trump to attend Demo-2 launch, but fewer other guests (5/23): President Trump and Vice President Pence, chair of the National Space Council, have announced plans to attend Wednesday’s launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida on the agency’s Commercial Crew Program/SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA has urged the public to monitor the events over NASA TV, webcasts and social media because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What the new NASA launch could mean for Jacobs and other contractors
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Jacobs, Lockheed Martin
Engineering News Record (5/23): While the planned NASA Commercial Crew Program/SpaceX Demo-2 launch planned for Wednesday with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley is an important milestone for the nation’s space leadership, it marks a significant boost for the engineering and construction companies that support NASA’s objectives as well.

Space Science

Hope Mars mission: Launching the Arab world into the space race
Gulf (5/20): The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has set July 15 for the launch of its first ever mission to Mars. The Hope orbiter was developed to study the Martian atmosphere and climate. July 15 opens a launch window, when the Earth and Mars are best aligned for a launch that closes for the UAE on August 13. Arrival at Mars is planned for February 2021. NASA’s Perseverance Mars 2020 rover is in line for a July launch as well as is a Chinese orbiter/rover mission.

Comet Swan’s final song
Sky & Telescope (5/22): Expectations that a once promising Comet Swan might become a naked eye comet by mid to late May have faded as it approached the sun and began to vaporize.

Other News

Virgin Orbit first launch attempt fails (5/25): Virgin Orbit’s “Cosmic Girl,” a Boeing 747 modified for air launch, took flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Monday afternoon. However, LaunchOne failed to reach orbit following release nearly 60 minutes into flight. Virgin Orbit described the release of the rocket as “clean” prior to an engine startup and premature shutdown.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 24-30, 2020 (5/24): This week’s major space event is planned for Wednesday/May 27 at 4:33 p.m., as the NASA Commercial Crew Program/SpaceX Demo-2 mission launches to the International Space Station (ISS) with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard a Crew Dragon. Weather permitting, it will be the first launch of astronauts into orbital space from the U.S. since the final NASA space shuttle mission in July 2011. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to attend.  The U.S. Senate is in recess, the U.S. House is to meet virtually but nothing related to space policy is on the agenda.

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