Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 13th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The NASA Space Launch System (SLS) core stage for the Artemis 1 mission planned for launch in late 2021 advances through “green run” ground testing. A NASA 2021 budget measure is scheduled for markup by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, prior to the launch of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope mission to Mars.  

Human Space Exploration

NASA wraps up third SLS core stage green run test, eyes test fire this Fall
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (7/10): NASA engineers are approaching the mid-point of Space Launch System (SLS) core stage “green run” testing at the agency’s Stennis Space Center. The third of eight milestones in the ground testing have been completed, each leading to a planned full duration test firing of the four RS-25 core stage main engines later this year. Once complete, the hardware will move on to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), where it’s anticipated Artemis 1, an uncrewed multi week test flight of the SLS and Orion capsule will be launched next year.

NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson on going to the Moon, Mars and leading the next generation (7/12): Prior to the pandemic, veteran NASA astronaut Stephanie Wilson, who has launched to space three times since her 1996 selection by NASA for astronaut training, spoke face to face with Wilson urged those with STEM skills and who are willing to study hard and adapt as their careers advance to apply for opportunities at NASA as the space agency moves to a new era of human deep space exploration. Wilson is one of 17 astronauts eligible to become the first woman to explore the surface of the Moon.

Crewed flight to Mars may take place in late 2030s, says Roscosmos official
TASS of Russia (7/10): Sergei Krikalyov, head of human exploration for the Russian space agency, provided an estimate of the late 2030’s for an international human expedition to Mars. It would follow a lunar precursor expedition. “Today a spacecraft is being developed for a flight beyond the low near-Earth orbit: an advanced crewed spaceship, which is being created to make it possible to travel beyond the near-Earth orbit to the Moon or Mars when the time comes,” he said in a television interview.
Russia’s research module for orbital outpost passes final trials
TASS of Russia (7/10): Nauka, a multi-purpose, Russian laboratory module appears to have overcome years of hurdles and could be ready for a launch to the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian segment in 2021, Russia’s space agency reported on Friday. Construction of the module, which is equipped with a toilet as well as oxygen generation and urine to drinking water purification systems, began in 1995.

Space Science

How small satellites are radically remaking space exploration
Ars Technica (7/11): A new era of smaller satellites, based on the CubeSat format, and the smaller rockets or otherwise spare volume on larger rockets required to launch them are opening new less expensive, faster opportunities for space exploration.

Beyond the Milky Way, a Galactic Wall
New York Times (7/10): Thousands of galaxies known as the South Pole Wall and comprised of trillions of stars form a line across 700 million light years of space behind the Milky Way.  A team of astronomers using observatories from around the world joined efforts to characterize the cosmic feature for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

Cost growth prompts changes to Europa Clipper instruments (7/10): Significant changes due to cost increases on three instruments — a camera and two spectrometers — await NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft. Clipper is to orbit Jupiter for a series of close flybys of Europa, the eruptive ice and ocean covered moon that may host habitable environments. The multi-billion dollar mission has a new launch readiness date as well, 2024, a year’s delay. 

Astronomers want to figure out what the hell Planet 9 is once and for all
Futurism (7/10): A Harvard undergrad proposes that a small primordial black hole could be responsible for the still to be explained gravitational forces attributed to a trans Neptunian object sometimes referred to as Planet 9.

Op Eds

Space exploration in next decade could teach and unify our world
Orlando Sentinel (7/10): Demo-2, the current NASA/SpaceX test flight now underway at the International Space Station (ISS), and NASA’s plans to join with commercial and international partners in the human exploration of the Moon and Mars can serve as an example to help bring humanity together at a time marked by social strife, an economic downturn and a global pandemic, writes Chris Carberry, CEO of the nonprofit Explore Mars.

Other News

Join the National Space Society (NSS) for ‘A Day in Space,’ a celebration of spaceflight, this week (7/12): A daylong virtual forum is planned by the NSS with interview guests that include Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin. Planetary scientist Alan Stern discusses his New Horizons mission to distant Pluto and the Kuiper Belt object Arrokoth. A historical look at the exploration of Mars is also planned. The forum begins at 11 a.m., EDT. Story includes details on viewing options.

Ad Astra Rocket CEO Diaz on leadership, simulating rocket performance, and developing space (7/13): Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz has been in space as a NASA astronaut and now oversees a company that aims to make what could become the diesel engine of space transportation. Diaz’s Ad Astra Rocket Company also has sustainable transportation ambitions and has developed hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure and vehicles for his home country, Costa Rica. In a wide-ranging interview, Diaz outlines that state of the space race, sustainability, and leadership tips. The complete chat is in the video above, but here are some takeaways from our talk. 

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of July 12-18, 2020 (7/12): The first of three Mars missions slated to launch this month, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hope orbiter, is set to liftoff from Japan on Tuesday at 4:51 p.m., EDT. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee meets Tuesday to markup a 2021 fiscal year spending measure that includes $22.6 billion for NASA, equal to the agency’s 2020 budget but 12 percent less than the $25.2 billion sought by the White House in order to support a commercial lunar Human Landing System (HLS) strategy for returning human explorers to the Moon in 2024. Early Thursday, NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken resume a series of spacewalks to replace aging nickel hydrogen power storage batteries on the International Space Station’s (ISS) solar power truss. Several virtual space forums are planned for this week as well, among them the John Glenn Memorial Symposium, Wednesday through Friday. 

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