Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 30th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA and its contractor team move out to prepare for future Artemis missions for the human exploration of the Moon beyond the Artemis 3, the planned 2024 lunar south pole landing with the first explorers since the Apollo era.

Human Space Exploration

Boeing powers up first SLS core stage for Green Run system checkouts
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (6/29): After delays due to workforce safety measures put in place earlier this year in response to the global  COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing is powering up and checking out the core stage components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket assigned to NASA’s Artemis 1 test flight. The power up on the B-2 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is the latest in a series of steps that are to lead to a full duration test firing of the core and its RS-25 rocket engines and a performance analysis. The core then moves on to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) where it will be joined to two solid rocket boosters and an Orion crew capsule. Artemis 1 is to launch the Orion spacecraft around the Moon without astronauts for a return to Earth, ocean splashdown and recovery. Artemis 2, a crewed version of the test flight is to follow. Artemis 3 is to return astronauts to the surface of the Moon at the lunar south pole in 2024.

NASA plans for more SLS rocket boosters to launch Artemis Moon missions
Coalition member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASA (6/29): NASA gave Northrop Grumman the green light on Monday to proceed with the acquisition of the long lead components needed to supply solid rocket boosters for a half dozen Space Launch System (SLS) Artemis lunar missions beyond the first three, including Artemis 3, which is to land at the Moon’s south pole in 2024 with the first human explorers since the Apollo program. Each SLS core stage is joined by two of the solid fuel boosters built by Northrop Grumman at facilities in Utah. The letter contract spans 150 days and is to lead to a definitive contract for manufacture through 2030.

NASA’s new Moon-bound space suits will get a boost from AI
Coalition Member in the News – Jacobs (6/29): When NASA astronauts don a new generation of space suits to explore the Moon, they will have the benefit of the latest software technology has to offer to perfect the distribution of power, communications, oxygen supply and temperature regulation, factors critical to human performance. The suit’s performance must be optimized around the lowest mass and volume possible.

Want to learn how to survive on Mars? Look to Antarctica (6/29): Antarctica’s frigid landscape and scientific mysteries represent a powerful analog for astronauts preparing to explore Mars, according to veteran NASA astronaut Stan Love. The icy continent’s McMurdo Station appears the counterpart to a lunar or small Mars settlement, he contends.

Progress to aid Benzene investigation on ISS (6/28): A new air quality monitor for the International Space Station (ISS) is due to launch aboard a Russian Progress re-supply mission on July 23. The device will be pressed into service to trace the source of benzene noted at higher levels in the U.S. as well as the Russian segments of the orbiting science laboratory. The first indication of higher than normal levels was in mid-April. The Station’s crew has deployed charcoal HEPA filters to help address the issue.

Space Science

Do hot Jupiters form close in, or do they migrate? A newly-discovered planet might help answer this
Universe Today (6/29): A University of Texas led research effort is shaking up a prevailing theory that over time planets essentially remain where they formed around their host stars. One recently discovered Hot Jupiter around a star 490 light years from the Earth has offered an opportunity to test whether that is the case or whether planets form at distances far from their host stars, then migrate closer. The planet discovery, designated HIP 67522, is estimated at 17 million years of age, young on the cosmic scale, and already close to its star. Some scientists are hopeful the planned launch of the NASA led James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission will increase the number of opportunities to observe HIP 67522 and other young solar systems over time to hone in on an answer.

Op Eds

To safely explore the solar system and beyond, spaceships need to go faster nuclear-powered rockets may be the answer Conversation (6/29): Once beyond the grasp of Earth’s gravity well, nuclear propulsion is the best way for human explorers to power their way Mars and beyond, writes Iain Boyd, an adjunct professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan. And when it comes to the nuclear options, he favors nuclear electric over nuclear thermal as the most efficient. In 2019, the Trump administration altered the oversight of commercial as well as government space nuclear systems for propulsion, power and heating to encourage future development, while stressing the need for safety.

The Artemis Accords: repeating the mistakes of the age of exploration
The Space Review (6/29): As the U.S. reaches out to the Moon to return with human explorers to seek out and exploit resources to forge on to Mars and other deep space destinations, new questions are arising over who owns the rights to territory beyond the Earth and its resources. NASA’s recent release of the proposed Artemis Accords are raising questions about the future of the Outer Space and Moon treaties that have guided the issue for more than a half century. They are concerns about how to proceed that on Earth date back more than five centuries.

Other News

Sausage making in space: the quest to reform commercial space regulations
The Space Review (6/29): A tense balance between government and industry over the regulation of space activities, has swung toward industry’s favor under the Trump Administration in order to support growth within the private sector. The tension has eased within the two factions over the regulation of satellite remote sensing. The space transportation industry is looking to a similar outcome prior to year’s end.

Russia’s replacement for the Proton rocket costs way too much
Ars Technica (6/30): Russia’s efforts to develop replacements for the 1960’s era Proton rocket appear possibly hopelessly stalled by high cost and management issues. The Angara 5 has flown but once, in 2014. The Soyuz -5, a medium lift rocket eyed for human launches in the mid-2020’s is also confronted by cost issues that threaten to greatly slow if not prevent its debut.

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