Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 19th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Kathy Leuders, newly appointed lead of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, talks about the challenges faced by the country in developing a strategy for returning to the Moon. The future is bright for women astronauts. Space Perspectives announces their plans to take tourists on rides to the stratosphere.

Human Space Exploration

Lueders: Moon-by-2024 won’t happen unless we try (6/18): Kathy Leuders, newly appointed to lead NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Directorate and the first women to fill the position, acknowledged the challenge faced by the country in developing a strategy for returning to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024 during a news briefing Thursday with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. However, NASA is determined to strive for the goal, one step at a time, said Lueders. “We’re not naive as to how difficult this is, but Kathy has a really strong ability to lead teams to achieve very difficult outcomes and we’re very excited about this,” said Bridenstine. It was in March 2019 that the White House directed NASA to accelerate a human return to the lunar surface from 2028 to 2024.

NASA’s new space chief makes no guarantees about planned 2024 Moon landing
CBS News (6/18): Promoted to the position just a week ago, Kathy Lueders, NASA’s new Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, addressed the challenging issue of whether her employer of 28 years can achieve an accelerated return to the Moon with human explorers in 2024. “We’re going to try. We’re going to try, right?” Lueders told a Thursday news briefing. “Sometimes, it’s the trying that gets us closer to the goal than the not trying. If you start and you say I can’t get there, well, you’re not going to get there.”  

NASA astronauts discuss landing the Dragon during call with Pence
Houston Chronicle (6/18): The International Space Station’s (ISS) NASA crew spoke Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the White Houston National Space Council. The topic included the May 30/31 launch and docking of Demo-2 mission NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS. Pence and his wife, Karen, lauded the achievement and the inspiration it’s providing the nation’s youngsters. The U.S. had not been able to launch astronauts for nine years until the milestone.

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano imagines human voyages to an asteroid (6/18): We have telescopes that scan the skies for asteroids. We have landed a spacecraft on a travelling comet. We are planning the ambitious Hera asteroid deflection mission. What next? ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano discusses the incredible notion that one day, humans might land on these ancient, rocky masses.

Almost 90% of astronauts have been men. But the future of space may be female
The Mandarin (6/16): The first woman to launch into space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova. That was in 1963. The U.S. caught up on that front with the launch of NASA shuttle astronaut Sally Ride in 1983. A look to the future, suggests NASA has made a lot of progress. The once largely male space domain is changing as the oversight and requirements for space travel evolve and more and more women join in to lead the way.

Space Science

Webinar | Mars Exploration: Blueprint for the Red Planet
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (6/18): A June 24 webinar, “Mars Exploration: a Blueprint for the Red Planet,” will look at how the upcoming NASA Perseverance Mars 2020 rover mission could open doors for the human exploration of the Red Planet. Perseverance is undergoing preparations for launch atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on July 20, and landing on Mars for a two year mission on February 18, 2021.

New plan to deflect killer asteroids: Tie their shoelaces together
Futurism (6/18): Newly published research led by the University of Central Florida (UCF) suggests one way of preventing a hazardous asteroid from striking the Earth might be to tether it to another asteroid. Early detection of the threat, however, is a must.

ExoMars sees the martian atmosphere glowing green
Universe Today (6/18): In orbit around Mars, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Trace Gas Orbiter, has witnessed an Earth-like airglow in the atmosphere of the Red Planet. It’s a first for the spacecraft that was launched in 2016, as part of the agency’s ongoing ExoMars program. The study appears in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Other News

Space Perspective wants to take tourists on balloon rides to the stratosphere (6/18): Want a taste of space without launching on a rocket? Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum, the founders of World View, the Tucson, Arizona, high altitude balloon company, have started a new venture, Space Perspective. Space Perspective is focused on high altitude balloon flights for people and science payloads. Uncrewed test flights are planned for early 2021. Spaceship Neptune, a pressurized capsule, will hold up to eight passengers. Flights to altitudes of 30 kilometers are planned from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Everything we know and don’t about Tom Cruise’s plans to film a movie in space
Ars Technica (6/18): If actor Tom Cruise is indeed to participate in a future spaceflight movie, it appears likely he would launch as a commercial spaceflight passenger, maybe aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon, to the International Space Station’s (ISS) U.S. segment, or perhaps a commercial platform. A recent surge in speculation over the prospect, is nothing new it turns out.

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