Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 20th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration joins the nation in mourning the death and celebrating the legacy of Congressman John Lewis – legendary civil rights activist who also saved the International Space Station (ISS) in a critical vote in 1993. Today is the 51st anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) successfully launch its Hope Mars orbiter mission from Japan on Sunday. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley look to end their two month, Commercial Crew Program/Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) August 1-2, the agency announced Friday.

Human Space Exploration

Rep. John Lewis, Space Station savior, passes away (7/18): Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) has passed away. A legendary civil rights activist, his role at a pivotal point in the history of the Space Station program is less well known. He is the Member of Congress who cast the deciding vote in 1993 to continue the program despite years of cost overruns and schedule delays. Today’s International Space Station (ISS) might not exist without his support.

Apollo 11 moments of wonder (7/20): On their historic journey to the moon in 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins are amazed at the sights outside their tiny windows. Listen to several sound clips from Aldrin/Armstrong as they were approaching the Moon.

NASA targets August 2 for Demo-2 return (7/17): On Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that weather permitting NASA Commercial Crew Program/Demo-2 astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley intend to depart the International Space Station (ISS) August 1 and prepare for an August 2 splashdown off the Florida coast, either in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. The two astronauts launched aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 30 and successfully docked to the orbiting science lab on May 31.

Space Science

United Arab Emirates successfully sends its first mission toward Mars (7/19): The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) first planetary science mission, a Mars orbiter called Hope, successfully lifted off from Japan on Sunday at 5:58 p.m., EDT. Developed to monitor the weather, climate change and other atmospheric factors at Mars, Hope is to reach the Red Planet in February 2021. Japan launched the mission. NASA’s Deep Space Network will provide communications, and experts from several U.S. universities helped develop the low cost orbiter. China’s Tianwen 1, Mars lander, rover and orbiter, is to launch Thursday. NASA’s Perseverance Mars 2020 rover is awaiting a July 30 liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

NASA’s next Laser Communications Demo installed, integrated on spacecraft
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (7/17): NASA engineers have prepared the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration for launch next year on a 2021 Pentagon mission. The laser relay technology promises to offer 10 to 100 times the bandwidth of the radio frequency systems now in use for space communications.

An asteroid impact, not volcanism, may have made Earth unlivable for dinosaurs
Science News (7/17): It wasn’t volcanism in the Deccan Traps, what is now India, but rather a large asteroid impact in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan some 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs and other life forms on Earth, scientists conclude in a new assessment. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Op Eds

CSI: Rocket Science
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
The Space Review (7/13): Northrop Grumman’s OmegA solid rocket, an entrant in the U.S. Air Force’s National Security Space Launch competition, offers instructive insight into the many challenges that surface but that can be overcome in the rocket development process, explains Jeffrey L. Smith, a propulsion engineer.

Other News

Three companies studying “Orbital Outpost” space station concepts for Defense of Department
Coalition Member in the News – NanoRacks (7/19): The Department of Defense (DoD) has contracted with Sierra Nevada to evaluate the company’s Shooting Star cargo vessel as a possible experimental space station. Sierra’s winged, reusable Dream Chaser is among NASA International Space Station (ISS) commercial cargo providers. Shooting Star, the cargo element, is of interest to the military for “space assembly, microgravity, experimentation, logistics, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation,” according to a company news release. The DoD has similar agreements with NanoRacks and Arkisys.

Space conquered, Dr. David Hilmers sets his sights on global health
Houston Chronicle (7/19): Marine Corps veteran and four time NASA shuttle astronaut, Dr. Dave Hilmers has returned to Houston to help address a shortage of physicians at Harris County’s Ben Taub Hospital in the Texas Medical Center due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The images I saw in space cemented and fortified my desire to serve others through medicine,” said Hilmers, now 70.

Feds asked to take another look at SpaceX Texas permit
Courthouse News Service (7/17): Environmental activists have asked the FAA to take another look at SpaceX rocket development activities in South Texas. Two recent incidents involving a ground test explosion and a brush fire prompted the concerns and a request for a new environmental impact study.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of July 19-25, 2020 (7/19): China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission is due to launch Thursday, a week ahead of the launch of NASA’s Perseverance Mars 2020 Rover. Today, at 1 p.m., EDT, the Space Foundation is hosting a virtual presentation on the Perseverance mission with a panel of experts (, one of several virtual space presentations planned for this week. NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken team for a third spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday. Russian is to launch a Progress resupply mission to the Space Station on Thursday. The U.S. House and Senate are in session this week.

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