Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 15th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday rejected a 2021 budget increase for NASA, including funds for a commercial, lunar Human Landing System (HLS). The first component of a NASA lunar orbiting Gateway would include the joint launch of a Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and a Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO).  

Human Space Exploration

House Appropriations Committee rejects NASA budget hike, 2024 Moon landing goal (7/14): The U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday rejected the White House request for a 12 percent increase in NASA’s budget for 2021, including nearly $3.4 billion for a lunar Human Landing System (HLS) needed to advance a return to the lunar surface with human explorers from 2028 to 2024. The $22.6 billion spending measure, which matches NASA’s 2020 budget, moves on to the full House for consideration as part of a Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill. The White House proposed $25.2 billion in total for 2021 for NASA.  A Senate version of the NASA spending bill for 2021 has yet to emerge.

Maxar making progress with Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) for Gateway
Coalition Members in the News – Maxar Technologies, United Launch Alliance (7/13): As plans for the Maxar developed Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) of NASA’s planned lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway mature, NASA and Maxar have decided on a single launch for the PPE and a Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), rather than separate launches for the first two elements. The Gateway, which the PPE will maneuver and provide with electricity, is to function as a lunar orbiting command module, or waypoint for astronauts launched aboard NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule. Plans are in the works for commercial landing systems that will shuttle astronauts between the Gateway and lunar surface.

Space hospitality startup to establish training complex (7/14): Spaceflight founder Jason Andrews, of Seattle, and partner Nicolas Gaume, of France, have announced a startup, Spaceflight Gateway and Astronaut Training Complex called Orbite. Still to decide on a location, the two businessmen plan a luxury training complex for commercial astronauts, their family and friends, complete with dining and recreation. Orbite will offer customers physical, psychological and skill-set training to ensure they get maximum enjoyment from their spaceflight experience, said Gaume.

Space Science

How upcoming missions to Mars will help predict its wild dust storms
Science News (7/14): Coping with global dust storms could be one of the biggest challenges to the future human exploration of Mars. All slated to launch to the Red Planet this month, the United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) Hope orbiter, China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter, lander and rover and NASA’s Perseverance 2020 Mars rover carry instruments that may help to explain and forecast the dust season. The European Space Agency (ESA)/Russian Exo-Mars lander is to follow in 2022.

Five years after New Horizons flyby, scientists assess next mission to Pluto (7/15): It was five years ago this week that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft carried out the first flyby of distant Pluto. It took months to transmit data back to Earth from the encounter. The imagery revealed a small but surprisingly geologically active planetary body with icy mountains and hints of subsurface liquid water. Scientists would like to go back with an orbiter for a longer close-up look.

NASA to highlight comet Neowise with public broadcast, media teleconference
NASA (7/14): Comet Neowise, now becoming a naked eye spectacle visible after sunset, will be the topic of a NASA public webcast scheduled for Wednesday at 3 p.m., EDT. Check out the NASA TV, YouTube, USTREAM and other social media viewing opportunities.

Op Eds

Saving space from ‘Star Wars’ – style misperception (7/14): Space should not become a warfighting domain, writes Charles Powell, a University of Michigan doctoral student, in an op-ed. It’s an image unfortunately borne of the popular Star Wars science fiction film series. Space is the ultimate high ground, he writes, with unique and irreplaceable benefits for humanity.

Other News

House spending bill rejects Office of Space Commerce funding increase (7/15): A spending bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee July 14 once again rejects an administration proposal to combine the Office of Space Commerce with another office and increase its budget to perform space traffic management work. The committee did not make any changes to the bill beyond a “manager’s amendment” for minor, noncontroversial changes. The bill includes $1.8 million for the Office of Space Commerce and another $1.8 million for the Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs (CRSRA) office, both located within NOAA. The administration’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal proposed incorporating CRSRA within the Office of Space Commerce and moving it out of NOAA, placing it under the office of the Secretary of Commerce.

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