Today’s Deep Space Extra

July 21st, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The mining of space resources promises to bring a positive theme to the goal of establishing a sustained human presence on the Moon. Marking the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo/Soyuz first encounter between astronauts and cosmonauts in space. NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken embarked early Tuesday on their 10th career spacewalks, tying them for the U.S. record.

Human Space Exploration

Aerojet Rocketdyne completes its propulsion for NASA’s Artemis II mission
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Lockheed Martin
Aerojet Rocketdyne (7/20): NASA’s Artemis II mission is to be the first test flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) Rocket and Orion capsule with astronauts aboard. Anticipated for 2023, the multi-week mission will launch astronauts around the Moon and back to Earth. Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed the production of SLS core and upper stage engines as well as propulsion systems for Orion and its European Space Agency (ESA) supplied service module at various manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

Lockheed Martin will lease former Astronaut Hall of Fame for NASA’s Orion spacecraft
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
Florida Today (7/17): The Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) former Astronaut Hall of Fame will be leased to Lockheed Martin for work on the Orion crew capsules that will house NASA astronauts launched on deep space missions. The hall, a favorite among tourists, was recently moved to the main campus of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). Orion activities are expected to pick up as NASA prepares to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024.

Watch live: Space Station crew stages fourth spacewalk to finish upgrades
Coalition Member in the News – NanoRacks (7/21):  Early Tuesday, NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken joined for their fourth spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) in less than a month. They planned to prepare the Station’s U.S. segment Tranquility module for the arrival later this year of a commercial airlock developed by NanoRacks, of Houston, and other external upgrades. During spacewalks on July 16, July 1 and June 26, they completed a 3 1/2 year effort to replace aging nickel hydrogen solar power storage batteries outside the orbiting science lab with more efficient lithium ion batteries. Tuesday’s spacewalk is the 10th for each, tying Cassidy and Behnken with retired NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Mike Lopez-Alegria for the most by an American.

Handshakes and histories: The Apollo-Soyuz test project, 45 years later
The Space Review (7/20): July marks the 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo-Soyuz test project, a four day mission in which three NASA astronauts and two Soviet cosmonauts linked their spacecraft in Earth orbit for a handshake, a symbol of detente between the two Cold War rivals but a test of national security. Space historians Asif Siddiqi and Dwayne Day look back at the 1975 milestone. Though the rivalry continued and relations between the U.S. and Russia remain tense, the two space powers managed to initiate a more than 25 year alliance between 15 nations in the development of the International Space Station (ISS), which will 20 mark years of continuous staffing in November.

NASA jettisons Apollo Moon landing stats to reach 300th U.S. EVA (7/20): The online publication explains some changes in the way NASA’s counts spacewalks, notably during the Apollo Moon landings in order to account for the disposal of trash. The change is reflected on Tuesday’s planned spacewalk by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Chris Cassidy outside the International Space Station (ISS). Scheduled for a little over five hours, it will be the 300th NASA spacewalk since Gemini astronaut Ed White conducted the first ever by the U.S. on June 3, 1965. Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin conducted the first Moonwalk 51 years ago Monday. Behnken and Cassidy are each walking in space for a 10th time, tying records held by Peggy Whitson and Mike Lopez-Alegria, both now retired.

Space Science

The pandemic’s effect on NASA science
The Space Review (7/20): NASA has worked successfully so far to keep the Commercial Crew Program Demo-2 mission with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and the planned July 30 launch of the Perseverance Mars 2020 rover on track despite the workplace restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the planned March 2021 launch of the technically challenging James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will now slip to no earlier than October 31, 2021 because of the pandemic. NASA remains hopeful, however, that reserves within the $8.8 billion Congressional cost cap for the JWST mission will be sufficient to fund the delay.

Scientists identify 37 recently active volcanic structures on Venus
Reuters via New York Times (7/20): Using imagery from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft at Venus, scientists have identified what appear to be 37 recently active volcanoes on geological time scales and likely still active. Shuttle launched in May 1989, the Magellan mission came to an end in October 1994.

Curiosity is investigating a strangely colored rock it found on Mars
Digital Trends (7/19): NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Gale Crater on Mars since August 2012, spent last weekend seeking clues to the chemistry of a rock of volcanic origin and its connection to past water on Mars.

”Mini Neptune” exoplanets may actually be covered in radioactive oceans
Futurism (7/20): Mini Neptunes are extrasolar planets thought to be mini versions of the gas giant at the perimeter of the solar system. However, new research suggests they are rocky and perhaps covered by oceans of radioactive material. New findings were published in a pair of research journals, Astrophysical Journal Letters and Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Op Eds
A rush to mine the Moon will be good for humanity (7/16): Lunar resources, such as water ice and metals locked in the regolith, are drawing a healthy global interest in exploring the Moon for its potential commercial riches, writes Alexander William Salter, a Texas Tech University economist. Commercially themed deep space exploration has a potential to create new wealth for the good of all humanity, without destroying it, a tradition that can extend out to the mining of the asteroids, according to Salter.

Other News

New episode of The Deep Space Podcast available now
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (7/20): Tune in to the next installation of the Entrepreneurs in Space Series featuring Mike Suffredini at Axiom Space. In this week’s episode of the Deep Space Podcast, Suffredini walks us through his transition from being NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) manager to being a space entrepreneur, and what it takes to be in the space business. Click here to listen now.

The coronavirus is crippling Baikonur, the city that sends humans into space
Moscow Times (7/20): Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, located in Kazakhstan under a spaceport lease agreement that lasts until 2050, has been overrun by the coronavirus. Thirty died at the site in June, perhaps many more. Tensions between the two countries over what’s become a health crisis are deepening. NASA astronauts launched exclusively from Baikonur on Soyuz rockets until May 30, when SpaceX and the agency’s Commercial Crew Program successfully launched the Demo-2/SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. 

SpaceX sets a turnaround record, flying the same rocket in 51 days [Updated]
Ars Technica (7/20): A South Korean military communications satellite, Anasis-2, was successfully launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Monday at 5:30p.m., EDT. The core stage, which landed on a drone recovery vessel in the Atlantic, launched previously on May 30 on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. The 51 day turnaround is a record for a reusable orbital rocket.

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