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Today’s Deep Space Extra

November 24th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… China has launched a lunar sample return mission, the first of its kind since the 1970s. Northrop Grumman achieves Gateway HALO milestone. NASA’s Orion crew module includes a robust abort mechanism.

 

Human Space Exploration

Northrop Grumman completes critical review for Gateway HALO module
Coalition Member in the News – Maxar, Northrop Grumman
AmericaSpace.com (11/23): Northrop Grumman has completed the preliminary design review for the Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), intended to provide living space for up to four astronauts aboard NASA’s lunar Gateway. The module is based on the company’s Cygnus resupply capsule, which has flown 14 cargo missions to the International Space Station (ISS). The Gateway is one of the elements of NASA and its partners’ plans to establish a sustainable presence at the Moon and prepare for human missions to Mars.

If a spacecraft launched accidentally, what could we do to abort the mission?
SyFyWire (11/19): Nickelodeon’s new series “The Astronauts” poses the question “What happens if a spacecraft were to launch prematurely?” In the case of the fictional series, the crew aboard are curious infants. NASA’s Orion spacecraft has addressed the issue in real life with a flight-tested Launch Abort System (LAS). So, if during a programmed mission something goes awry during liftoff, the LAS provides assurance the Orion capsule can separate from the launch vehicle and descend with parachutes to ensure the astronauts aboard land safely.

 

Space Science

China launches Chang’e-5 Moon sample return mission
SpaceNews.com (11/23): China on Monday launched a lunar sample return mission. If successful, the mission would join the U.S. Apollo program and Soviet Luna missions of the 1960s and 1970s. Launched at 3:30 p.m. EST, the Chang’e 5 spacecraft should reach the Moon in four to five days for a landing on Oceanus Procellarum, the “Ocean of Storms.” With success, samples gathered by the robotic lander should make their way back to Earth for recovery in China around December 15-16.

Commentary: China ready to share fruits of lunar exploration
Xinhuanet of China (11/24): If the Chang’e 5 lunar sample return mission is successful, China promises to share the samples of the lunar regolith it returns from the Moon’s Oceanus Procellarum. Studies of lunar samples could help to further explain how the early solar system evolved.

Star merger created rare Blue Ring Nebula
CNN (11/18): A star merger has arisen as a likely explanation for a Blue Ring Nebula discovered 16 years ago some 6,300 light years from the Earth. A sun-like star crashed into and consumed a smaller start orbiting it, leaving fluorescent debris and creating a disk of material around the small star.

Arecibo isn’t the first radio telescope to unexpectedly fail. Here’s what we can learn from Green Bank’s collapse
Space.com (11/23): History of Green Bank’s radio telescope collapse and what we have learned as it pertains to Arecibo and other failures.

Fly over Jupiter in this stunning video from NASA’s Juno spacecraft
Space.com (11/23): Imagery from NASA’s Juno mission, which launched to Jupiter in August 2011, offers a closeup flyover view from imagery gathered on June 2  from an altitude of a mere 2,100 miles over the giant planet’s colorful cloud tops.

 

Other News

Relativity Space raises $500M to speed up plan to build and launch 3D-printed rockets
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin
GeekWire.com (11/23): California based Relativity Space has announced a $500 million investment in the company’s efforts to develop a line of orbital rockets using additive manufacturing, or 3D-printing. The five-year-old company plans to launch its first rocket, Terran 1, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2021, according to CEO Tim Ellis.

New FAA documents reveal SpaceX’s latest plans for launching Starship prototypes on suborbital flights from South Texas and potential hurdles to orbit
Business Insider (11/24): New documentation from the FAA reveals changes in SpaceX’s 2014 strategy for spacecraft operations from South Texas. Once involving launches of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy about once per month, the plans now involve more frequent suborbital launches of the Starship Super-Heavy rocket. The documentation outlines environmental impact concerns and the FAA and SpaceX’s response as future activities ramp up.

The space resources debate pivots from asteroids to the Moon
The Space Review (11/23): An initial interest in the mining of space resources has shifted from asteroids to the much closer Moon. Though that is largely due to NASA’s Artemis initiative, an effort to return to the surface of the Moon with humans in 2024 in partnership with international and commercial partners, it may be that Luxembourg is fashioning a space mining strategy with the most vision.

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