Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 27th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA faces budget uncertainty in efforts to develop a lunar Human Landing System (HLS) to achieve its goal of returning humans to the Moon in 2024. Water on the Moon could be much more prevalent than believed.


Human Space Exploration

NASA weighing lunar lander budget options
Coalition Member in the News – Dynetics (10/26): Uncertainties over a 2021 federal budget present a mounting concern for NASA’s lunar Human Landing System (HLS) program, critical for achieving the goal of returning humans to the Moon in 2024. NASA is working with Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX on initial HLS development, funded at $967 million in total for all three companies. Though the White House requested $3.2 billion for HLS development for the 2021 fiscal year, a House bill passed in July provided $600 million for the program, and the Senate has yet to act on a spending measure. While 2021 appropriations are sorted out, NASA, like the rest of the federal agencies, is operating under a continuing resolution that runs through December 11. Lisa Watson-Morgan, NASA’s HLS program manager, said Monday during a von Braun Symposium panel that the agency is looking for ways to proceed as the budget issue is resolved, but lack of funding will ultimately affect the program.
SpaceX now targeting November 14 for next astronaut launch
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (10/26): Delayed from October 31, the launch of NASA’s first SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) has been rescheduled for November 14. The delay enables an assessment of a pre-launch anomaly experienced by SpaceX during an October 2 launch attempt of a Falcon 9 rocket with a non-NASA payload. The astronauts awaiting launch are NASA’s Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Soichi Noguchi.


Space Science

Water on the Moon is more common than we thought, studies reveal (10/26): Water on the Moon could be much more prevalent than believed, according to two studies published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. One study features evidence for the presence of H2O molecules in sunlit regions of the Moon, while a second offers evidence for expanded areas of “cold traps” where conditions would be suitable for the presence of water ice. The findings are important for a future sustained presence on the Moon, as lunar ice could be used for activities such as producing propellants or drinking water.

Study offers more complete view of massive asteroid Psyche (10/26): A Southwest Research Institute study of Psyche identified for the first time on any asteroid what is thought to be iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands, an indication that oxidation is happening on the asteroid. Nearly all metal, Psyche may be the core of a planet that failed to come together, presenting an unusual opportunity for the study of main belt asteroids. NASA’s Psyche mission to study the object is planned for launch in 2022.


Other News

Nanoracks aims for big things with outpost space stations
Coalition Members in the News – Made in Space, Nanoracks, United Launch Alliance
OuterSpaceLand (10/24): Nanorack’s mission extension kit will help execute the company’s strategy to repurpose spent rocket stages into free flying commercial platforms for low Earth orbit activities. The concept was pioneered by NASA, which turned the upper stage of a Saturn V rocket into the Skylab space station. Many of the research activities that could unfold under the Nanoracks concept could develop new technologies for use on Earth as well as in space.

The Artemis Accords take shape
The Space Review (10/26): October 13 marked a historic coming together of NASA and the first seven countries to join with the U.S. to forge the next chapter in human space exploration, a return to the lunar surface to establish a sustainable human presence and prepare for missions to Mars. The lineup is diverse: Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the U.K., all pledge through the signing to adhere to the Outer Space Treaty through the ten principles of NASA’s Artemis Accords, which are fundamentally about transparency and peaceful uses of outer space, as noted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

China launches three military spy satellites (10/26): Three payloads, believed to be signals intelligence satellites, were launched by China atop a Long March 2C rocket on Monday.

Once in a blue Moon: Get ready for a Halloween full Moon
USA Today (10/26): Halloween this year will feature a bright full Moon, a rare second full Moon in a single month, an occurrence known as a blue Moon. Blue Moons, however, are not actually blue. This won’t happen again until 2039, according to the Farmers’ Almanac.

Inspiring future space explorers: Q&A with former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin (10/26): From star athlete, University of Richmond wide receiver, and 1986 Detroit Lions NFL draft choice, former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin has been through different life experiences. Sports injuries helped steer him toward a career as a NASA engineer and his selection to train as an astronaut. the former astronaut is hosting a free, 45-minute Starcourse talk called “Build a Rocket Racer with an Astronaut” on October 27 at 7 p.m. EDT.

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