Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 25th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… New NASA economic impact report shows Moon to Mars exploration approach generated more than 14 billion in economic output and supported more than 69,000 jobs nationwide in 2019. Axiom Space nears agreement with NASA on first all private astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The Pentagon improves efforts for the tracking of satellites and other objects in Earth orbit.

Human Space Exploration

NASA Report Details How Agency Significantly Benefits US Economy
NASA (9/25): NASA released a report defining the economic impact of the agency’s activities during 2019. The agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach generated more than 14 billion in total economic output and supported more than 69,000 jobs nationwide. NASA’s total financial impact was more than 64 billion, while supporting jobs for an estimated 312,000 people. All U.S. states benefitted. The activity also generated nearly 7 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues.

80-billion-yen budget request in the works for lunar probe
Asahai Shimbun of Japan (9/24): Japan’s science and technology ministry will seek 760 million (USD) in 2021 to support the NASA-led initiative to return humans to the surface of the Moon. Anticipated Japanese contributions include the accelerated development of a new uncrewed re-supply spacecraft, a life-support system and related contributions to enable Japanese astronauts to land on the Moon. 

NASA is developing a new space toilet for Moon-bound astronauts but the agency’s ‘certified sniffers’ say the system is far too stinky.
Business Insider (9/23): Late Tuesday, NASA’s contracted re-supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is to initiate the delivery of 8,000 pounds in supplies, including a new toilet prototype for the orbital outpost and the Orion spacecraft. It’s designed to be lighter weight, more user friendly and better equipped to eliminate odors.

Space Science

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx begins its countdown to TAG
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (9/24): In October, NASA’s first-ever asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, is to touch down briefly on the rocky surface of Bennu. The goal is to collect a minimum of 60 grams of pebble-like surface material to return to Earth.  If successful, the spacecraft will return in September, 2023 to release the samples for a parachute assisted landing at the U.S. Army’s Utah Test and Training Range.

Harvard study: We shouldn’t rule out underground life on the Moon and Mars (9/24): Researchers from Harvard and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) are advocating for a search for possible life in the seemingly inhospitable environments of the Moon and Martian underground. The researchers made their case in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Earth life may have traveled to Venus aboard sky-skimming asteroid (9/24): Last week an international science team announced the discovery of small amounts of phosphine gas in the high-altitude cloud layers of Venus, a realm long believed much too hot and acidic for life. Phosphine, however, can be linked to biological as well as non-biological activity. Harvard researchers suggest that small pieces of asteroids grazing through the Earth’s atmosphere, then on to Venus, could be the source of the phosphine.

‘Giant impact’ theory of Moon’s formation gets another boost (9/25): New studies of Moon rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo astronauts offer new evidence supporting a theory that the Earth’s Moon formed early in the solar system’s planet-forming era from material skimmed off the Earth by contact with another planetary body.

Other News
Air Force, SpaceX mum about sky-high rocket costs

Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (9/23): SpaceX founder Elon Musk has pledged to save the Department of Defense (DoD) money by turning to the Falcon 9 rocket for the launch of national security satellites and missions rather than United Launch Alliance’s rockets. However, SpaceX’s latest bid shows the cost per launch rising. The military has not yet provided estimates.

Axiom finalizing agreements for private astronaut mission to Space Station
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom Space, Boeing (9/23): Axiom Space says agreements with NASA, SpaceX, and fare-paying passengers should be finalized in the coming weeks for the launch of the first all-private crew to the International Space Station (ISS) in October 2021. Former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria is set to command the mission.

NASA working with cosmetics company on Space Station commercialization
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (9/24): To promote sales of a face cream, Estee Lauder is flying a product to the International Space Station (ISS) on a Northrop Grumman re-supply mission scheduled for September 29 from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. Astronauts will record video of the bottles in the Space Station’s U.S. segment Cupola, with the Earth in the background. The company will reimburse NASA $128,000 for its role in the production.

U.S. Space Command announces improvements in space debris tracking (9/24): The 18th Space Control Squadron stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, has begun to provide more meaningful data on an estimated 25,000 tracked space objects, of which 3,200 are Earth orbiting satellites. The squadron provides space domain awareness for the U.S. Space Force in efforts to prevent collisions between the objects. Space Command worked with NASA to improve the reporting process.

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