Today’s Deep Space Extra

February 22nd, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Ingenuity Mars helicopter phones home. Northrop Grumman’s 15th Cygnus resupply spacecraft reaches the International Space Station.


Human Space Exploration

NASA sees “reasonable chance” of first SLS launch this year
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (2/19): With a successful attempt at conducting a second ground test firing of the first Space Launch System (SLS) core stage at NASA’s Stennis Space Center this coming Thursday, NASA has a reasonable chance of launching Artemis I by year’s end, according to agency managers. After this test, the last one in the Green Run series, the SLS core will be shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and mated with boosters, upper stage, and an Orion crew capsule for the first Artemis mission.

Space Science

Biden sees Perseverance and Mars sample return as U.S.- Europe unifiers (2/19): Speaking with European policy makers a day after Perseverance successfully landed on Mars, President Biden said a follow-on joint mission to bring back to Earth samples of the Martian surface gathered by the rover would be a unifying force. Studies of the samples using high technology that is not part of the rover could reveal whether Mars once hosted some form of life.

The first helicopter on Mars phones home after Perseverance rover landing (2/21): Ingenuity, the small helicopter flown to Mars aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover checked in Friday evening with a downlink to its flight controller team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The rover, which touched down successfully on the Red Planet on Thursday, will be moving to a suitable site for a sequence of test flights of the solar powered Ingenuity.


Other News

Northrop Grumman supply carrier delivers to International Space Station
Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (2/22): Launched Saturday from NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia, Northrop Grumman’s 15th Cygnus spacecraft reached the International Space Station (ISS) early Monday. The spacecraft brought more than 8,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS, including science investigations and crew supplies. The Cygnus will remain at the ISS for up to three months before departing to deploy several CubeSats into orbit.

Safety panel recommends NASA develops strategy for workforce and infrastructure
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (2/21): NASA must strive to tailor its workforce and infrastructure to a changing environment for human exploration that intends to incorporate a greater contribution from companies, the agency’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) stressed during its first meeting of 2021 on February 18. This matter was a concern initially expressed by the panel in its 2020 annual report.

Hickenlooper ‘over the Moon’ to be chairing new subcommittee on science, space
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance (2/19): U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, a Colorado Democrat, has been named to serve as chair of a new legislative subcommittee on science and space as part of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. The appointment of the first-term senator and one time geologist to the policymaking panel was announced on Friday.

Pentagon inspector general to investigate decision to move U.S. Space Command to Alabama (2/19): As 2020 drew to a close, the U.S. Air Force announced a decision to move the headquarters for the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama. The Pentagon’s inspector general announced on Friday it will investigate the hotly contested decision and the criteria applied to six candidate sites.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of February 21-28, 2021
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Maxar, Northrop Grumman (2/21): On Monday, NASA hosts a briefing updating the status of the Perseverance rover, which reached the Red Planet last Thursday. It will be live streamed at 2 p.m. EST. Later Monday, the National Academies of Sciences is hosting a presentation on space nuclear propulsion for a future human expedition to Mars. On Thursday, NASA and its Space Launch System (SLS) prime contractor Boeing plan a repeat of the large rocket’s core stage “Hot Fire”. Early Sunday, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts Kate Rubins, of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi, of JAXA, will conduct a spacewalk to prepare for upgrades to the ISS’s solar arrays.

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