Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 13th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… New findings prompt a discussion over the dwarf planet Ceres current status as an “ocean world.” Despite a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, investors see a future in the space sector.    

Space Science

CASIS Board of Directors welcomes new members
CASIS (8/12): The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the use of the U.S. National Laboratory volume aboard the International Space Station (ISS), under a cooperative agreement with NASA. On Wednesday, it announced the selection of four board members. They are Gale J. Allen, executive director of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research; Elizabeth R. Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation at the University of Arizona; Eric D. Isaacs, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science; and Michael H. Maloney, CEO of the American Institute of Physics. They join three current and interim board members.

A successful second rehearsal puts NASA’s OSIRIS-REx on a path to sample collection
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
University of Arizona (8/12): Earlier this week, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission spacecraft successfully carried out a second rehearsal of its planned October 20 landing on the asteroid Bennu to collect a sample of surface material for return to Earth. During Tuesday afternoon’s exercise, the probe left its half mile high orbit around the asteroid for a series of maneuvers and deployments that took it to just 131 feet over the surface before retreating as planned — all in response to previously transmitted autonomous commands. Once it has gathered a sample, OSIRIS-REx will orbit a bit longer, then return to Earth. A sample container is to descend under parachute onto the U.S. Army’s Test and Training Range on September 24, 2023, ending a seven year mission.  Lockheed Martin, which assembled the spacecraft, also provides mission operations for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

Claims of ‘ocean’ inside Ceres may not hold water
Scientific American (8/12): A collection of seven research efforts linked to NASA’s Dawn mission to the dwarf planet Ceres acknowledge the presence of subsurface water but whether its evidence of a subsurface ocean or ice that was melted by the heat of a major impact 22 million years ago remains under discussion.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: 15 key milestones to celebrate 15 years in space (8/12): Launched 15 years ago Wednesday, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter introduced high resolution reconnaissance of the surface of the Red Planet to the global science community, helping with the selection of landing sites for future missions, taking striking images of the Martian moon Phobos and revealing evidence of past water on Mars.

Other News

The space sector is finally finding its way to the exits
Coalition Members in the News – Collins Aerospace, Deep Space Systems, Inc., Made in Space (8/12): The pace of space industry exits is picking up in the U.S. where private equity firms and holding companies are scooping up startups and enterprises established decades ago, Space News reports. Exits tend to occur when the economy is strong. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and recession are doing little to dampen enthusiasm among leaders of the companies shopping in the space sector.

Meet ‘Tenacity’: 1st Dream Chaser space plane gets a name
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance (8/12): Sierra Nevada Corp, one of three companies selected by NASA to commercially resupply the International Space Station (ISS), has named its first cargo carrier “Tenacity.”  The winged Dream Chaser spacecraft, which is designed to return as well as deliver cargo to the Space Station, is to launch on its first resupply mission in late 2021. It’s the only commercial space cargo craft designed to return to Earth and land on a runway.

Mike Griffin joins board of Rocket Lab (8/12): Mike Griffin, a former NASA administrator who oversaw development of the Constellation program and initiated the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program for commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station (ISS), a precursor to commercial crew, has joined the board of Rocket Lab. Griffin has served in a number of federal civil and defense positions, recently stepping down as undersecretary of Defense in July.

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