Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 5th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… New cargo mission reaches the International Space Station (ISS). China selects 18 new astronauts ahead of space station construction.

Human Space Exploration

Astronaut commands robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus cargo craft
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
NASA (10/5): Northrop Grumman’s 14th Cygnus cargo capsule, launched late Friday, successfully reached the International Space Station (ISS) early Monday. The cargo includes a new space toilet developed for future human deep space exploration and a new plant growth experiment to investigate the culturing and harvesting of vegetables for deep space missions. The mission also includes a commercial element, with Estee Lauder using the ISS to image a skin cream with the Earth in the background.

Russian cosmonauts to test new system extracting water from urine on ISS
Sputnik News (10/3): “Separatsia” is a new experiment installed aboard the International Space Station’s (ISS) Russian segment to reclaim water for drinking from astronaut urine. It joins a NASA water recycling system installed in the Station’s U.S. segment in 2009. The technology is intended to help support future exploration far from Earth and lower the frequency of resupply missions. [Editor’s Note: Sputnik News is an official media outlet of the Russian government]

China selects 18 new astronauts ahead of space station construction (10/2): Selected from among 2,500 candidates, the new Chinese astronauts include 17 men and one woman. Seven are pilots, seven are engineers and four are payload specialists. The selections were not identified by name. They will participate in Chinese space station activities, which are expected to commence with the launch of the Tianhe core module in the first half of 2021.

Space Science

Did NASA detect a hint of life on Venus in 1978 and not realize it?
Live Science (10/1): News last month of possible traces of phosphine, a gas that could be linked to biological activity, in the high-altitude clouds of Venus and detected with Earth-based observatories, caused a stir. However, NASA’s Pioneer 13, a spacecraft probe that reached Venus in December 1978, also may have noted phosphine and it went unnoticed until Cal Poly biochemist Rakesh Mogul took a recent second look. Pioneer 13 dropped several probes into the atmosphere of Venus.

Russia may send mission to Venus to study biomarkers in atmosphere in 2027
Sputnik News (10/3): Currently, Russia’s space agency plans three missions to Venus between 2029 and 2034. But the aerospace company NPO is looking to a possible earlier mission, one that could launch in 2027, to seek out the source of phosphine. [Editor’s Note: Sputnik News is an official media outlet of the Russian government]


The International Artemis Alliance to return to the Moon takes shape
The Hill (10/04): The NASA-led International Artemis Alliance is shaping up to support future human deep space exploration. Italy recently joined Japan, Australia, Canada and the European Union in deciding to work with NASA.

Mars exploration: A driver of innovation and commerce
The Hill (10/4): The NASA-led human exploration initiative to return to the Moon then reach for Mars is a driver of new economic opportunities and technology innovation for companies both large and small, write Rick Zucker and Chris Carberry, of Explore Mars, Inc.

Other News

Antares breaks launch week curse, as SpaceX suffers last-second scrub
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (10/3): Last week proved a challenge for a variety of NASA, commercial and national security missions attempting to launch from the U.S. East Coast as they encountered last moment technical challenges. Northrop Grumman’s 14th resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) managed to turn the situation around late Friday as it lifted off from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility.


Texas company aims to 3-D print buildings on the Moon with ‘Project Olympus’ (10/2): Texas based ICON has launched Project Olympus, an initiative for the 3-D printing of habitats on the Moon, perhaps someday on Mars. ICON will partner NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to assess a variety of processing and printing technologies using simulated lunar soil under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) agreement.

Definitely not Windows 95: What operating systems keep things running in space?
Ars Technica (10/2): A look into the challenges of the software aboard spacecraft on challenging missions. Unlike that found on Earthly laptops, space software must respond quickly as well as correctly to mission requirements.

Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of October 4-10, 2020
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman
“ (10/4): On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will join U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, chair of the House Space and Aeronautics subcommittee, for a webinar cosponsored with the Wilson Center and the Aerospace Corporation, “Seeking Strategic Advantage: How Geopolitical Competition and Cooperation are Playing Out in Space.”  On Friday, Aviation Week is sponsoring a panel discussion, “Where have we been, where are we going” with former NASA administrators, Charlie Bolden, Sean O’Keefe and Dan Goldin. The House is on a pro forma session status, while the Senate deals with coronavirus concerns. Sunday marked the 63rd anniversary of the Soviet Sputnik 1 launch, which also marked the start of the Space Age. NOAA marked its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

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