Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 8th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Soyuz MS-18 set to launch to the International Space Station early Friday with two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut. The OSIRIS-REx mission spacecraft completes final tour of Bennu. 


Human Space Exploration

Launch and docking of Soyuz MS-18 TO ISS, Apr 9, 2021, Kazakhstan/ Earth orbit, 3:42 am ET/7:07 am ET (4/4): NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will join cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Oleg Novisky early Friday on Russia’s Soyuz MS-18 as they lift off for the International Space Station (ISS) for the six-month-long Expedition 65. Their launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan is scheduled for 3:42 a.m. EDT, with docking to the ISS planned for 7:07 a.m. EDT. NASA plans to televise and stream ( the launch activities starting at 2:45 a.m. EDT.


Space Science

NASA asteroid-sampling spacecraft looks at ‘the mess it made’ on Bennu
CNET (4/7): On May 10, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will start traveling toward the Earth with samples from asteroid Bennu collected in October 2020. Early Wednesday, the spacecraft took a final look at Bennu and is now slowly drifting away from the asteroid. Scientists were particularly interested in how OSIRIS-REx’s brief landing in October may have disturbed the area around the touchdown point. Launched in September 2016, OSIRIS-REx will drop its sample container in 2023 over Utah’s west desert.  

Mars Perseverance rover snaps selfie photo with Ingenuity helicopter
CNN (4/7): The Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter took a selfie together on Tuesday and sent it back to Earth. The rover used its robotic arm, which has a camera mounted on the end, to capture the image. The camera, known as WATSON, or Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering, functions as part of the SHERLOC instrument, or Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals. The selfie includes 62 individual images that have been stitched together.


Other News

ESA, CNSA heads discuss future space plans (4/7): China National Space Administration (CNSA) agency leaders participated in an April 1 video call with counterparts from the European Space Agency (ESA) to discuss future planning by each in areas ranging from Earth observation to China’s planned collaboration with Russia on a south pole lunar research station. Further joint discussions in areas of common interest are anticipated.

Bruno: The next big thing for ULA is a long-endurance upper stage
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (4/7): Speaking April 7 at the America’s Future Series space innovation summit, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Tory Bruno spoke optimistically about the future of the long-endurance upper stage that is to become part of the company’s new Vulcan Centaur rocket. The Centaur 5 upper stage is designed for long duration operations lasting weeks to months to carry out multiple missions in low Earth orbit.

Lockheed-made tech to help Germany track space objects, events
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (4/7): Germany’s space agency will use a Lockheed Martin-made system to track over 300,000 objects in Earth’s orbit to provide situational awareness. The company’s iSpace system gathers data from surveillance sensors of multiple sources, including government, commercial, and the scientific community, to monitor orbiting objects.

Former NASA administrator advising acquisition-hungry Voyager Space Holdings
Coalition Members in the News – Nanoracks, Redwire (4/7): Denver-based Voyager Space Holdings has appointed former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to chair its advisory board. It is the second corporate announcement in a week for Bridenstine, who joined Viasat’s board of directors April 1. Voyager has acquired four companies since it started in 2019. The company’s latest deal came in December 2020 when it bought a majority stake in Nanoracks. 



Night sky, April 2021: What you can see this month [maps] (4/2): There’s still plenty of April left to stroll out beneath a pleasant night sky for a motivational gaze up, without a telescope or binoculars to spot the big dipper and a fading then brighter Moon that reaches full pink supermoon status on April 26. Mars, Venus, and Mercury are visible with a little more effort. And then from April 16 to the 30, there is the annual Lyrid meteor shower, which peaks on April 22.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.