Today’s Deep Space Extra

October 29th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The International Space Station will soon mark 20 years of continuous habitation. NASA is targeting November 14 for the first operational Crew Dragon mission to the ISS but wants to confirm Falcon 9 issues found earlier this month have been solved before finally committing.


Human Space Exploration

Humans have been living in space for 20 years straight
National Geographic (10/28): The International Space Station (ISS) brought five space agencies representing 15 countries from across the globe together for one of the most complex human endeavors ever, the assembly and operation of the of an orbiting laboratory. November 2 will mark the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the first crew. A total of 241 women and men have lived and worked aboard the ISS. Note: NatGeo offers a limited number of articles for free per month before the stories are behind a paywall.

NASA optimistic about SpaceX engine fixes, but wants GPS III launch before Crew-1 (10/28): NASA and SpaceX are moving ahead with plans for a November 14 launch of the first operational commercial launch of astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The Crew-1 mission, previously planned for October 31, was delayed after an anomaly prevented a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch of a DOD GPS III satellite on October 2. The company traced the issue back to the rocket’s Merlin engines, replacing two of them. However, NASA wants to see the GPS III launch take place before the agency ultimately commits to the November 14 launch.

NASA’s Crew-1 commander to be sworn into U.S. Space Force from the International Space Station (10/29): NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force colonel Michael “Hopper” Hopkins, the commander of the Crew-1 mission targeted for November 14, is in line to be sworn in as a member of the U.S. Space Force after reaching the International Space Station (ISS). Hopkins was selected by NASA for astronaut training in 2009, and would be the first member of the Space Force to serve in the agency’s astronaut corps.


Space Science

Final clues from derelict lander: Comet interior “extraordinarily soft” (10/28): Thanks to their persistence, scientists affiliated with the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta mission to the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko have been able to characterize the aged comet’s interior despite a crash landing by Rosetta’s Philae lander in 2014. Using imagery from Rosetta transmitted to Earth, they found the comet’s interior surprisingly soft and fluffy.


Other News

Biden’s space policy: One giant leap for climate change (10/29): A victory for former vice president Joe Biden in the November 3 presidential election would likely mean a greater emphasis on Earth Science at NASA. Support for NASA’s human deep space exploration initiatives would likely continue as well, but not with the urgency of a 2024 return to the surface of the Moon with astronauts, according to those monitoring developments. Support for the Space Force by a Biden administration would also likely continue.

Astronauts in space to discuss 20th anniversary of International Space Station
NASA (10/26): NASA along with its Russian, European, Canadian and Japanese International Space Station (ISS) partners will mark 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the orbital science lab on November 2. NASA will mark the anniversary with events that will be streamed on the NASA website ( and broadcast on NASA TV. The first one is today at 3 p.m. EDT, featuring Expedition 1 crew members, who will discuss the first long-duration mission to the ISS. Tomorrow at 11:10 a.m. EDT, the current ISS crew will host a news conference to discuss the anniversary.

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