Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 23rd, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… A NASA/ESA satellite carrying a radar altimeter to measure rising sea levels on our home planet launched into orbit Saturday. JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission is nearing a December 6 drop-off of material gathered from asteroid Ryugu.


Human space exploration

From the Moon to the Earth: How the Biden administration might reshape NASA
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (11/20): Many in the space community are wondering what comes next under President-elect Joe Biden, as space was not a top issue in the campaign. However, in one statement over the summer after the return of the Demo-2 commercial crew mission, the President-elect stated “As president, I look forward to leading a bold space program that will continue to send astronaut heroes to expand our exploration and scientific frontiers through investments in research and technology to help millions of people here on Earth.”

NASA reschedules final SLS Core Stage Green Run tests for December
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Vacco (11/20): The SLS program rescheduled the final two tests of the rocket’s core stage Green Run campaign for December after successfully repairing one of the liquid hydrogen prevalves inside the engine section of the stage. The seventh test in the series, the Wet Dress Rehearsal, is targeted for the week of December 7, while the last test, hot firing of the core stage’s engines, could occur during the week of December 21 if all goes well.


Space Science

Astronomy: Fragments of asteroid due to land in outback in 2020 thanks to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2
Canberra Times of Australia (11/22): On December 6, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa 2 will reach the Earth with a payload of materials collected from the surface of asteroid Ryugu. Scientists are hopeful studies of the material will help to reveal the role that asteroids played in the planet-forming process, including the delivery of water and organics. The return capsule will be landing in Australia’s Woomera Testing Range.

International satellite launches to extend measurements of sea level rise (11/21): The NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich oceanography satellite successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California at midday Saturday. The spacecraft is designed to monitor changes in sea level globally and is part of the European Copernicus constellation, a fleet of satellites observing Earth’s land surfaces, oceans, ice sheets, and atmosphere. The mission is named for the former head of NASA’s Earth science division Michael Freilich, who passed away last year.

Solar powered rocket might be our ticket to interstellar space
Wired (11/20): Working with NASA, the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab is researching a solar powered propulsion technology that would accelerate missions into the deep solar system and interstellar space in about half the time it took NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 missions to achieve the milestone.


Other News

OneWeb emerges from Chapter 11 with new CEO (11/20): OneWeb announced November 20 that its sale to an ownership group led by Bharti Global and the British government has closed, allowing the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bharti Global and the British government made a winning bid of $1 billion for OneWeb in July, and a U.S. federal bankruptcy court approved the sale Oct. 2. The British government said that the acquisition of OneWeb fit into a broader strategy to grow the country’s space industry.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of November 22-28, 2020 (11/22): The week’s highlight could be the launch of China’s Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission, possibly as soon as Monday. Only the U.S. and the former Soviet Union have managed to land on the Moon and return with samples, the U.S. with NASA’s Apollo missions between 1969 and 1972 and the Soviets with three Luna robotic missions in 1970, 1972 and 1974, according to a NASA summary. Virtual space conferences on an assortment of topics hosted by Europe, Canada and Australia are planned. The U.S. House and Senate are in recess.

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