Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 22nd, 2020

The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration releases statement on the passage of FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. (Read the statement here).


In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA receives $23.271 billion in the final fiscal year 2021 omnibus spending bill. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has two months to provide answers on Arecibo.


Human Space Exploration

Final FY2021 NASA funding provides only 25 percent of HLS request (12/22): The 2021 consolidated appropriations bill provides NASA with $23.271 billion for the fiscal year extending through September 20, 2021, nearly $2 billion less than requested. The bill provides $850 million for development of a commercially developed lunar Human Landing System (HLS), below the $3.4 billion requested. The bill restores funding for Earth and space science programs as well as STEM education programs.

Boeing and NASA complete CDR for Space Launch System’s EUS
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, United Launch Alliance
Aerospace Technology (12/22): The Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket passed its critical design review (CDR), confirming that the stage’s design meets requirements for future missions to deep space. EUS prime contractor Boeing has started production activities to support the development of the stage at NASA’s Michaud Assembly Facility.

Dedicated commercial human in-space operations are coming sooner than you may realize
Coalition Member in the News – Axiom Space (12/21): Today, the International Space Station (ISS) provides work from orbital home for seven astronauts and cosmonauts. The population in low Earth orbit, however, is likely to grow as private companies begin shuttling astronauts there. Axiom Space offered a promising forecast for how many people could be living and working in space within a few years during a recent Tech Crunch Sessions: Space virtual presentation.


Space Science

Congress gives NSF two months to provide answers on Arecibo (12/21): 2020 was not kind to the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Nearly 60 years old, Arecibo experienced a sequence of structural failures and now its future is uncertain. The Consolidated Appropriations Act released on Monday calls on the foundation to provide an explanation for the failures and what should come next.

Scientists think they’ve spotted the farthest galaxy in the universe (12/21): The galaxy GN-z11 appears to be 13.4 billion light years from Earth based on studies using the Hubble Space Telescope and a ground based observatory in Hawaii. Findings were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.



We’re never going to mine the asteroid belt
Bloomberg (12/21): “It’s wonderful that people are shooting for the stars – but those who declined to fund the expansive plans of the nascent space mining industry were right about the fundamentals. Space mining won’t get off the ground in any foreseeable future…” says David Fickling in a Bloomberg opinion piece. (Behind a paywall after a number of articles).

NASA’s aim shouldn’t be altered every time president changes
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Florida Today (12/21): A change in space policy is probably coming with the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden, likely with a greater emphasis on addressing climate change, writes Gannett’s Tim Walters in an op-ed. Already the century’s fourth president, Biden will be following a tradition of change in space policy that has economic consequences for Florida’s Space Coast and state economy as well as national priorities, according to the op-ed.


Other News

Made In Space makes ceramic turbine part in orbit in another 3-D printing milestone
Coalition Members in the News – Made in Space, Northrop Grumman (12/21): For some time, Made In Space has used the International Space Station (ISS) to study the advantages of microgravity for the maturation of 3-D printed manufacturing technologies. The latest involves the production of single piece ceramic turbine bladed disks. An experimental Ceramic Manufacturing Module was delivered to the orbital lab in October. The first production components are set to return to Earth in the coming weeks for further assessment.

Omnibus spending bill funds Commerce Department space traffic management work (12/22): Congress provided the Office of Space Commerce with most of the funding it requested to accelerate its work on space traffic management (STM) in the fiscal year 2021 omnibus spending bill. The report accompanying the bill directs the office to use the funding for a STM pilot program that would develop technical prototypes, initiate an open architecture data repository, and perform STM demonstrations.

China’s new Long March 8 rocket makes maiden flight
Reuters (12/22): China’s Long March 8 rocket launch on Tuesday moved along an effort to develop a reusable rocket family that launches and lands vertically.

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