Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 3rd, 2021

The Coalition for Deep Space Exploration is excited to announce that Frank Slazer, a space industry executive and space advocate with over 30 years of experience in space policy, programs, and budgets, has been named President and CEO of the Coalition, effective May 17, 2021. Read our statement



In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Bill Nelson will be sworn in Monday morning as NASA’s new administrator by Vice President Kamala Harris. The White House announced VP Harris will chair the National Space Council. The Ingenuity helicopter is set to begin a new demonstration phase.


Human Space Exploration

NASA suspends HLS contract with SpaceX
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman (4/30): NASA last week suspended contract activities with SpaceX for the development of a Human Landing System (HLS) for the Artemis I mission and a precursor uncrewed test. The $2.99 billion fixed price contract was awarded April 16 solely to SpaceX, after NASA had mentioned plans to select at least two companies. Blue Origin and Dynetics, who were also competing to develop an HLS, filed protests with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and NASA issued a stop work order until GAO resolves the matter. The Government Accountability Office has 100 days to assess the protests.

Crew Dragon splashes down to end Crew-1 mission (5/2): NASA’s Commercial Crew Program completed its first operational roundtrip to the International Space Station (ISS) early Sunday as the Crew-1 Dragon astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, of NASA, and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, ending a 168-day mission. The journey back marked the first nighttime splashdown by astronauts since the return of NASA’s Apollo 8 crew in December 1968.

Roscosmos discusses ISS withdrawal strategy and new space station for mid-2020s (4/30): More from Russian officials on their future space station plans: While Russia now intends to launch the new Russian Orbit Service Station (ROSS), it will withdraw from participation in the International Space Station (ISS) gradually. ROSS is to orbit at a higher inclination than the ISS, thus overflying more of Russia. ROSS will be equipped with production facilities not available on the Russian segment of the ISS and eventually incorporate a satellite repair and refueling capability.


Space Science

Mars Ingenuity helicopter chalks up record flight as NASA extends its mission
CBS News (5/1): NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter carried out a fourth test flight on Friday, setting records for altitude, 16 feet; distance, 436 feet; and duration, 1 minute, 57 seconds.

Acing its fourth flight on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity will advance to a new testing round
The Verge (4/30): NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter flew for a fourth time on Friday. Initially, five test flights were planned, the last one this week. But Friday the Ingenuity flight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced that the helicopter now has an operational assignment. The drone will fly to scout out science targets for Perseverance, whose mission is to gather samples of the Martian surface at its Jezero Crater landing site for potential return to Earth. Scientists plan to examine the samples for evidence of past microbial life on Mars.


Other News

Harris will chair National Space Council, swear in Bill Nelson on Monday (5/1) The Biden White House on Saturday confirmed continuation of the National Space Council under the leadership of Vice President Kamala Harris. Harris, who intends to put a “personal stamp” on the proceedings, will swear in former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson as NASA administrator on Monday at 9:50 a.m. EDT. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on April 29. The Space Council will also retain a Users’ Advisory Group (UAG).

China successfully launches Yaogan-34 remote sensing satellite
Xinhuanet of China (4/30): A Chinese Long March 4C rocket successfully placed an optical Earth observation satellite into orbit on Friday for urban planning, road development, crop yield estimation, and disaster prevention.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 2-8, 2021 (5/2): Former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is  scheduled to be sworn in as NASA Administrator at the White House on Monday by Vice President Kamala Harris. Wednesday marks the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. human spaceflight– Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard’s 15-minute Mercury Freedom 7 flight lifted off on May 5, 1961. Among virtual events this week, the American Astronautical Society (AAS) is hosting its annual Goddard Memorial Symposium Tuesday through Thursday. Keynote speakers include Thomas Zurbuchen, who leads NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD).

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