Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 9th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s first operational Commercial Crew mission astronauts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Sunday to prepare for launch next weekend, weather permitting. Democratic senator supports the Artemis program, but wants a clear timeline.


Human Space Exploration

Astronauts arrive at launch site for 2nd SpaceX crew flight
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Associated Press via Orlando Sentinel (11/8): NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Sunday along with Japanese colleague Soichi Noguchi to prepare for the NASA-contracted SpaceX Crew-1 launch to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff is set for Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:49 p.m. EST, weather permitting. The arrival of the new mission at the Space Station will increase the total crew size to seven, a boost for scientific research and technology development.

Biden administration expected to emphasize climate science over lunar exploration at NASA
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (11/9): After being projected the winner of the 2020 presidential election, Democrat Joe Biden has started to roll out his transition plans, which include COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change as priorities. Observers expect a democratic government to emphasize a heavier NASA involvement in climate change, though the Democratic platform has expressed support for “NASA’s work to return Americans to the Moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system,” reports

Weather and technical problems further delay SLS Green Run test
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (11/8): NASA and Space Launch System (SLS) prime contractor Boeing continue efforts to complete the Green Run test series for the core stage of the Artemis I rocket at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The test series, which was planned to be done by mid-November, is facing a delay as a result of both Hurricane Zeta, which passed near Stennis on October 28, and issues with one of the eight valves that supply liquid hydrogen to the stage’s RS-25 engines. Following a repair of the valve, the team plans to culminate the Green Run test campaign by the end of the year.

Cantwell supports Artemis but wants “accurate timeframe”
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Axiom, Boeing (11/6): U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, spoke enthusiastically of NASA’s Artemis initiative to return humans to the surface of the Moon during a University of Washington symposium on Friday. However, she predicted a backing off of a 2024 return to the Moon because of cost. She also believes Congress will soon pass a new NASA authorization act.

Bridenstine to leave NASA Administrator post (11/8): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who is credited with building bipartisan support for NASA initiatives, including efforts to return humans to the surface of the Moon, plans to leave the post he’s held since April 2018 even if asked by the administration of President-elect Joe Biden to stay on. Bridenstine disclosed his plans to Aviation Week, saying NASA needs someone in charge who has a close relationship with top administration officials responsible for the budget and national security as well as space policy.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin venture fleshes out plans for 2023 cargo delivery to the Moon
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Purdue University (11/6): Steve Squyres, Blue Origin’s chief scientist, spoke of plans for a 2023 cargo mission to the surface of the Moon using the company’s lunar Human Landing System (HLS) under development for NASA, during a University of Washington symposium on Friday. The mission could serve as a test flight in support of NASA’s Artemis initiative, which is focused on a return to the lunar surface with humans to establish a sustainable presence.

Northrop Grumman updates Transfer Element portion of National Team lunar lander
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (11/6): During an interview, Northrop Grumman program director Sally Richardson provided details of an update to the company’s Transfer Element contribution to the Blue Origin-led National Team’s lunar Human Landing System (HLS) under development for NASA. In addition to a docking capability, the contributions include attitude control, active thermal control, and propulsion derived from Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle.


Space Science

Hubble launches large ultraviolet-light survey of nearby stars (11/6): Using the observatory’s ultraviolet assets, the Hubble Space Telescope will be used to establish a catalogue of star diversity. The Space Telescope Science Institute project is called Ulysses.


Other News

Elon Musk’s SpaceX closer to launching Starlink satellite internet in Canada
CTV News of Canada (11/6): Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Friday announced permission for SpaceX to market its Starlink broadband internet services. The company plans to dim its satellites, whose brightness was cited as a concern among some Canadians.

ISRO launches EOS-01 on board PSLV-C49 launch vehicle, first lift-off by space agency since lockdown
The of India (11/7): India on Saturday launched a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with an Earth observation satellite and nine other satellites from other countries, including four from the U.S. It was India’s first launch following a national lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

China sets targets for smart, recoverable and reusable launch vehicles (11/6): The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to develop a rocket capable of a vertical landing as well as a vertical launch by 2025, while at the same time working to develop a future array of autonomous technologies for guidance and navigation.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of November 8-14, 2020 (11/8): The U.S. Senate is in session this week, the House in proforma session. It’s unclear whether the two houses will come together on a 2021 budget before a new Congress is sworn in on January 20.

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