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Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 31st, 2020

Deep Space Extra will be on Fall break starting Tuesday, September 1, returning on Tuesday, September 8. 

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Upcoming presidential election, tropical storms join coronavirus pandemic, technical issues and funding in adding uncertainty to the nation’s space exploration ambitions. Boeing strives to refly its uncrewed Starliner test flight in December. Japan’s space agency and Toyota plan Lunar Cruiser to for human exploration of the Moon.

Human Space Exploration

Congress could provide stability to space program in an election year
Politico (8/28): As the November U.S. presidential election approaches, it’s unclear what the outcome might mean for NASA’s exploration plans, starting with the Artemis initiative to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024. President George W. Bush endorsed the Moon in a 2004 initiative, only to have it cancelled by his successor in 2010. The Democratic Party platform on which nominee Joe Biden is running expresses support for “continuing space exploration and discovery,” with little elaboration. NASA might be insulated from political turmoil, if Congress were to pass an authorization measure, its first in three years, according to Mike French, vice president of space systems at the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).

Green Run testing to resume Monday, after tropical storm pause
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Northrop Grumman
AmericaSpace.com (8/28): First it was a workplace response to the coronavirus pandemic and most recently the advance of powerful Hurricane Laura through the Gulf of Mexico adding schedule challenges to the much anticipated “Green Run” testing underway for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Laura has moved off, and NASA is hopeful of resuming preparations for the final Green Run milestone, a full duration, test stand firing of the core stage this fall. Then the SLS core stage is to move on to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for Artemis 1, the first test flight of a SLS launched Orion capsule on an uncrewed flight around the Moon and back to Earth for recovery.

Boeing making slow progress toward fixing software problems that plagued its 2019 Starliner test
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Washington Post (8/28): According to NASA’s assessment, Boeing has resolved 75 percent of the problems identified following Boeing’s initial uncrewed orbital test of the CST-100 Starliner in December. After successfully lifting off, the capsule was unable to raise its altitude to autonomously dock with the International Space Station (ISS) due to software issues. Eighty corrective items were identified after the flight, which landed successfully in New Mexico. Boeing plans to repeat the test flight in December or January to continue efforts to achieve NASA Commercial Crew Program certification.

Space Science

Ground segment testing a success for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASA (8/24): The James Webb Space Telescope (JEST), currently undergoing pre-launch testing and integration at Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California, has passed a critical milestone by demonstrating it will respond to commands from the Space Telescope Science Institute, in Baltimore, Maryland, which will lead space observations. The JWST is undergoing preparations for an October 31, 2021 launch to study the early evolution of the universe and assess the atmospheres of extrasolar planets for signs of biomarkers.

Hubble captures the remains of a dead star, a gorgeous orange space ribbon
Mashable (8/30): Once again, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope offers a reminder of the grandeur and the violence of a vast universe with an image of the bright remnants of a star that exploded 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.

The astrobiology of alien worlds
Air and Space (8/24): A new study published in the journal Universe suggests that a range of alien environments could support life, even if they do not display the diversity and mass of life on Earth.

How NASA tech helped make cars what they are today
Houston Chronicle (8/29): Some everyday examples of technologies in the cars we drive that were initiated for the exploration of space.

Other News

Rocket Lab returns to service with successful launch for Capella
Spaceflightnow.com (8/31): Small launch services provider Rocket Lab returned to flight late Sunday, U.S. time, with the launch of an Electron rocket from New Zealand carrying a Capella radar Earth observation satellite. It was the first flight for Rocket Lab since a July 4 failure tracked to a second stage electrical issue.

Japan’s new ‘Lunar Cruiser’ Moon rover is named after the Toyota Land Cruiser
The Drive (8/28): The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota have announced that the pressurized lunar rover that Japan plans to contribute to future human lunar exploration will be christened the Lunar Cruiser. Powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, the Lunar Cruiser could support exploration of the Moon’s south and north poles.

SpaceX launches Argentine radar satellite, rideshare smallsats on Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceNews.com (8/30): A SpaceX Falcon 9 placed an Argentine communications satellite into orbit Sunday evening with a rare polar launch trajectory from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, that began with a 7:19 p.m., EDT, liftoff.  SpaceX’s Saocom-1B mission marks the first polar launch from Cape Canaveral since 1969. The core stage descended for a successful landing. As the day got underway, SpaceX was prepared for two Sunday launches from Florida, the first from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) with a Falcon 9 carrying 60 Starlite small internet connectivity satellites. The early mission was scrubbed due to weather, which remained a challenge for the second mission.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of August 30 to September 5, 2020
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
Spacepolicyonline.com (8/30): The annual Humans to Mars Summit convenes Monday through Thursday, this year virtually with speakers from NASA, industry, academia, congress and foreign space agencies to assess the future of human deep space exploration. On Wednesday, Northrop Grumman is to host a ground test firing of an advanced version of the solid rocket boosters assigned to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket. The U.S. House and Senate remain largely in recess, while available to gather proforma.

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