Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 4th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s new administrator, former U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, pledges a bipartisan strategy as he’s sworn in. Johnson Space Center director Mark Geyer steps down.


Human Space Exploration

Ten month schedule to ready SLS for Artemis 1 launch after Core Stage arrives at KSC
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Jacobs, United Launch Alliance (5/3): Preparations are underway for the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). Checkout and testing of the SLS components and ground systems as they come together over the next 10 months represent the biggest schedule challenge.

Artemis, space situational awareness among top priorities for new Space Subcommittee chair (5/3): U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, now chairs the U.S. House Space Subcommittee. A seven year veteran of the panel, Beyer now lists NASA’s Artemis lunar human exploration initiative, space situational awareness/space traffic management and passing a new NASA authorization bill as his highest priorities.


Space Science

The youngest exoplanet found by the Hubble telescope is the size of Jupiter (and still growing) (5/3): The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the youngest extrasolar planet so far, PDS 70b, a gas giant, which is just 5 million years old, still growing and 379 light years from the Earth.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower of 2021 peaks this week. Here’s how to see it (5/3): Halley’s Comet made its last pass through the inner system in 1986. However, the Earth continues to pass through some of the debris in the comet’s tail, the source of the Eta Aquarids, a bright meteor shower. Under way now, the shower will peak on Thursday.


Other News

Nelson swearing-in ceremony highlights bipartisan and continuity (5/3): As he was sworn in Monday as NASA’s administrator, former U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson pledged to strengthen bipartisan support for NASA’s missions. Vice President Kamala Harris presided in the White House ceremony, which was remotely and personally attended by Nelson’s predecessors, Jim Bridenstine, who served during the Trump administration, and Charles Bolden, who served under former President Barack Obama.

Johnson Space Center director steps down (5/3): Mark Geyer stepped aside as director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) on Monday to focus on cancer treatment and spend more time with family members. Vanessa Wyche, NASA’s deputy director and a 31-year NASA veteran, will serve as acting director of the center.

For lunar cargo delivery, NASA accepts risk in return for low prices (5/3): Seeking to expand the sphere of economic activity to the lunar surface, Intuitive Machines has developed the Nova-C commercial lunar lander for small science and technology payloads. The in-house developed VR 900 rocket engine will feature 3-D manufactured components and burn liquid methane and oxygen.

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