Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 2nd, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Safety concerns arise over a lack of timely funding for NASA’s Artemis initiative and efforts by China to forge ahead with Space Station and the future human exploration of the Moon. The European Space Agency (ESA) updates plans for a delayed Mars rover mission to seek evidence of past or present life on the Red Planet.

Human Space Exploration

NASA safety panel warns of technical and budgetary risks to Artemis program
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Dynetics (10/1): NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) met Thursday. Among the concerns discussed was the uncertainty surrounding NASA funding could lead to engineering compromises in the Artemis program. ASAP also noted that NASA does not have a fully integrated, end-to-end test and planning capability for flight software.

NASA Safety Panel worries if Boeing can meet Starliner schedule
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/1): A second issue raised during the ASAP meeting concerned Boeing’s plans for reflight of the CST-100 Starliner crew vehicle. The next Orbital Flight Test (OFT) is scheduled for December, however several issues remain that must be worked before the flight. The spacecraft must complete OFT-2 and a crewed flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) in order to achieve NASA certification for operational missions to the ISS.

China is building a new rocket to fly its astronauts on the Moon
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (10/1): The new launch vehicle was unveiled at the 2020 China Space Conference in Fuzhou, east China on September 18. Much more capable than China’s current rockets, the new three-stage launch vehicle is designed to propel a 27.6 ton spacecraft into trans-lunar injection. A date for the premier launch was not announced. China has been discussing plans for the future human exploration of the Moon.

Report backs NASA exploration efforts as response to Chinese space program (10/1): A new report prepared by a group of Republican members of the U.S. House calls for support of NASA’s space exploration initiatives as well as legislation to better support the space industry and space traffic management. The China Task Force Report notes efforts by China to develop an Earth orbiting space station and as yet unscheduled plans for the human exploration of Mars. Those goals could provide China with new technical innovation and leadership opportunities.

NASA aborts launch of $23 million female-friendly toilet to International Space Station
Coalition Members in the News – Collins Aerospace, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance
CBS News (10/1): The launch of Northrop Grumman’s 14th NASA contracted resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) was aborted minutes from liftoff late Thursday. The almost 8,000-pound cargo manifest includes a new NASA and Collins Aerospace developed toilet for astronauts assigned to future deep space missions. The delay was the third for three different U.S. rockets at launch sites on the U.S. East Coast within 24 hours.

Space Science

NASA receives first lunar CubeRover from Astrobotic
Coalition Member in the News – Astrobotic (10/1): Astrobotic’s lunar robotic CubeRover has been delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) after three years of development. The small rover is slated for a future launch to the Moon to support a diverse complement of scientific and technology development payloads at a lower cost.

The way forward to Mars
European Space Agency (10/2): The European Space Agency (ESA) has worked out a new schedule for the next phase of ExoMars, a joint effort with the Russian Space Agency to land the Rosalind Franklin rover on Mars at Oxia Planum in the northern hemisphere. The launch period extends from September 20 to October 1, 2022. After a nine-month voyage timed to avoid the Martian dust storm season, ExoMars would land on June 10, 2023 to begin its search for past or present life on Mars. The partnership was forced to delay plans to launch the rover in 2020 due to technical issues.

Other News

Northrop Grumman “optimistic” to receive more NASA cargo mission orders
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (10/1): Northrop Grumman officials on Thursday described their interest and optimism to take on more than six missions currently booked through 2022 under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) program. Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada were each guaranteed at least six cargo missions under the CRS-2 contracts announced in 2016. 

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