Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 12th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine urges policymakers to ensure a sustained human presence in low Earth orbit after the ISS reaches end of life. A company wants to use space debris to make space stations.


Human Space Exploration

NASA chief warns of gap after retirement of International Space Station
Coalition Members in the News – Axiom, Boeing, Nanoracks (11/11): As he prepares to depart NASA as administrator, Jim Bridenstine expresses concern that policymakers are not doing enough to ensure the U.S. maintains a human presence in low Earth orbit for scientific research and technology development after the International Space Station (ISS) reaches its end of life. “We’ve been asking Congress to fund the development of commercial habitation in low Earth orbit now for a number of years. And every year Congress doesn’t fund it,” said Bridenstine. Earlier this month, the ISS marked a historic 20 years in orbit with a continuous human presence. The effort has fostered hundreds of research efforts with benefits for life on Earth as well as space exploration.  

NASA IG: Gateway not likely to be ready by 2024
Coalition Members in the News – Maxar, Northrop Grumman (11/11): An audit from NASA’s Inspector General (IG) questions NASA’s ability to have the first elements of the Gateway in place before a planned return to the surface of the Moon with astronauts in 2024. Recent changes in the Gateway’s architecture and how its initial elements would be launched are cited by the audit as introducing cost and schedule challenges. NASA has said the Gateway is part of its strategy for establishing a sustained human lunar presence in the 2020s, but not exactly a necessity for 2024.



To get to Mars, first develop the Moon (11/12): Undeveloped, the Moon offers critical resources locked within its soil, or regolith, including metals and water ice, plus a vacuum environment. Together, they make the Moon a valuable setting from which to advance human exploration to Mars, writes Elliott Carol, CEO of Lunar Resources, Inc.


Other News

Space company wants to turn orbital junk into space stations
Coalition Member in the News – Nanoracks via Wired (11/11): Nanoracks envisions the spent rocket stages that remain in Earth orbit as a future resource that can be repurposed into commercial space stations with modifications carried out in space. The company plans a proof of concept demonstration next May, as it launches as a SpaceX mission rideshare.

Senate appropriators evaluating need to change law on space passenger safety (11/10): In an explanatory statement accompanying its Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations measure for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Senate Appropriations Committee commented on the current moratorium that prohibits passing regulation regarding human spaceflight passengers until 2023. The moratorium intended to help avoid hard rules on a nascent business, but Congress encouraged the commercial spaceflight industry to develop voluntary standards in the meantime. The Appropriations Committee said it will continue to evaluate the need to alter current law to allow the FAA to promulgate regulations before the moratorium expires, as it notices significant delay in the development of standards.

Jim Bridenstine is leaving NASA. How should we assess his 30-month tenure?
Ars Technica (11/11):  Earlier this week, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine disclosed plans to depart the post after a bit more than 30 months. Observers offer praise to the former member of Congress from Oklahoma and military pilot for his efforts to win bipartisan support for future human deep space exploration, starting with a return to the surface of the Moon.

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