Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 4th, 2020

New Episode of The Deep Space Podcast Available Now!

Tune in to the final episode of the Entrepreneurs in Space Series featuring Jeffrey Manber at NanoRacks. In this week’s episode, Mary Lynne Dittmar and Manber discuss how the space sector has evolved from only having government actors to having both governmental and private players working together to advance exploration. Click here to listen now. And look for our next series in the coming weeks!
In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s successful Demo-2 mission test flight “captures the flag” left aboard the ISS with the conclusion of the last shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011. A recent study suggests that Mars was once covered in ice sheets, rather than running water. 

Human Space Exploration

Captured flag
The Space Review (8/3): As the crew of NASA’s final shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) departed for Earth aboard Atlantis in July 2011, its crew left a small U.S. flag, a commemorative Stars and Stripes that had also flown aboard the first NASA shuttle mission in April 1981. NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, the Atlantis commander, announced the flag was to return to Earth aboard the next spacecraft that reached the orbiting science lab with a crew. That was Demo-2’s Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley who departed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Saturday and splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Pensacola, Florida, on Sunday afternoon. All hailed the flight as a success for a new public/private model for future U.S. human space exploration.

Space Science

Study: Ancient Mars was covered in ice sheets, not rivers
Futurism (8/3): A Canadian led research effort proposes an alternative theory to an ancient Mars that had a warmer, wetter environment in which water flowed and pooled over the surface. The study suggests the valleys on Mars were formed by water melting beneath large sheets of glacial ice. The interpretation comes from interpretation of imagery gathered by NASA’s high resolution Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

NASA’s Nancy Grace Roman space telescope will send the hunt for exoplanets into warp speed (8/4): A new NASA space observatory could push planet-hunting forward at warp speed by gathering data up to 500 times faster than the venerable Hubble Space Telescope does. The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (formerly known as the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope or WFIRST) passed a key ground-system design review this month, according to NASA. Roman, as the telescope is called in short, relies on technology that was originally built for spy missions on Earth. Instead, after its launch in the mid-2020s, Roman will spy on exoplanets across the galaxy, as well as many other cosmic phenomena.

School girls in India discover Earth-bound asteroid
Reuters (7/27): Two teenage girls from India have discovered an Earth-bound asteroid by poring through images from a University of Hawaii telescope, an Indian space education institute said. The asteroid is presently near Mars and its orbit is expected to cross that of Earth in about one million years’ time, said SPACE India, a private institute where the two 14-year-old girls received training.

Solar cycle 25 is coming to life (8/3): Though still in the minimum phase of the 11-year solar cycle, the sun erupted this week with solar flares indicating a coming transition to the solar maximum phase.

Op Eds

Lunapolitics: 10 points to consider (8/1): A look at what’s ahead as the U.S. and China primarily, but other global powers and economic interests as well size up the geopolitical and economic reasons underpinning future human activities at the Moon, as assessed by John P. Sheldon, founder of, a consulting platform.

Mars race rhetoric
The Space Review (8/3): Ajey Lele, who assesses space policy from India, counters discussion of a race to Mars as a consequence of three recent successful missions launched to the Red Planet by the space agencies of India and China as well as NASA. The launches were all timed in concert with a favorable alignment between the Earth and Mars that occurs once every 26 months, he notes. Each mission has separate objectives. NASA, the most experienced at exploring Mars, and its Perseverance Mars 2020 rover mission represents the most scientifically ambitious of the missions, he notes.

Other News

Made In Space highlights defense applications for manufacturing and robotic assembly technology
Coalition Member in the News – Made In Space (8/3): Made In Space, a company well known for its work with NASA, is underscoring national security applications for in-space robotic assembly and additive manufacturing technologies at the annual Small Satellite Conference. Made In Space operates 3-D printers on the International Space Station (ISS). The Florida company, acquired in June by Redwire also remains on track to launch in 2022 Archinaut One, a small satellite designed to additively manufacture and robotically integrate a large solar array.

Virgin Galactic delays SpaceShipTwo commercial flights to 2021 (8/3): As part of a second quarter financial report, Virgin Galactic announced it does not expect to begin passenger suborbital space flights of SpaceShipTwo until the first quarter of 2021. Before the current year ends, two more test flights with crew aboard are planned, the first with NASA flight opportunity payloads aboard. Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson is then to fly prior to customer flight operations. Plans to proceed in 2020 have been slowed by coronavirus related workplace restrictions. Also, the company has experienced earnings losses and plans more stock sales.

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