Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 8th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The commander of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew test flight planned for 2021 has stepped aside to support personal family obligations. Fragments of Venus may have made their way to the surface of the Moon, potentially making it easier to study the planet.


Human Space Exploration

Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson withdraws from Starliner test flight
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance (10/7): On Wednesday, veteran NASA astronaut and Boeing director of crew and mission operations, Chris Ferguson, withdrew as commander of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission planned for 2021. NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore, who had been training as a backup for the first and second crewed Starliner flights, will replace Ferguson.

NASA selects 21 research proposals to advance human space exploration (10/7): NASA’s Human Research Program will fund 21 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long-duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The selected proposals will investigate biological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations to spaceflight, and will contribute to NASA’s long-term plans, including crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.


Space Science

The Moon might be littered with ancient shrapnel from Venus
Futurism (10/7): Because fragments of Venues dislodged by past asteroid and comet impacts may have made their way to the lunar surface, the Moon may offer a more accessible way to study the planet, according to astronomers from Yale. Due to its lack of geological activity, “The Moon offers safe keeping for these ancient rocks” suggests one of the researchers, Samuel Cabot.

Remnants of ancient subsurface ocean observed on Ceres (10/5): Data from the NASA Dawn mission, which orbited Ceres between March 2015 and November 2018, have offered more evidence that the minor planet may host remnants of a past global subsurface ocean.  A focus of the mission was the large crater Occator, which contains sodium carbonate, a compound found in salt water that appears to have erupted onto the surface. Ceres is part of a collection of “ocean worlds” that also includes moons of Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune as well as the distant minor planet Pluto.


Other News

A new fellowship program seeks to draw more Black students into space
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
Ars Technica (10/7): The Patti Grace Smith Fellowship program, whose founders include NASA astronaut Alvin Drew, intends to help more minority students find career opportunities in aerospace. Drew says the fellowship program can help provide mentors and opportunities that ensure aerospace has the greatest possible talent pool. The scholarship is named in honor of Patti Grace Smith, who led the Office of Commercial Space Transportation at the FAA and played a key role in early licensing commercial space flights. She was a strong advocate for young professionals in aerospace.

Musk’s SpaceX wins Pentagon award for missile tracking satellites
Coalition Member in the News – L3 Harris
Business Insider (10/6): The Department of Defense (DoD) has selected Space X for the development of four missile tracking satellites under a $149 million contract, a first for the company. A similar contract was also awarded to L3 Harris Technologies. All eight spacecraft are to be ready for launch by the U.S. Space Development Agency in 2022.

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