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Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 20th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan could provide funding for NASA’s Human Landing System and other initiatives, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a House appropriations hearing on Wednesday.

 

Human Space Exploration

NASA seeking more than $10 billion in infrastructure bill
SpaceNews.com (5/19): Testifying in a hearing by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee about NASA’s fiscal year 2022 budget request, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he asked Congress to include more than $11 billion dollars for NASA into what the White House calls the American Jobs Plan. Specifically, NASA is seeking $5.4 billion for the Human Landing System (HLS) program, $200 million for the development of Artemis space suits, $585 million for thermal nuclear propulsion, and $5.4 billion to repair or replace infrastructure at NASA centers around the U.S. The rationale to include these programs in the proposed bill is the creation of jobs. Regarding the HLS program, several members of the subcommittee said they were concerned about NASA’s decision to make only one Option A award after the agency had said it would seek to make up to two, to which Nelson responded that lack of funding for the program led to the decision. Nelson was also asked about the budget request for the Space Launch System’s (SLS) Exploration Upper Stage, and to provide a list of SLS Block 1b launches planned between now and 2030. He responded he does not have the exact number as only a skinny budget has been released, and that he will provide the planned launches as soon as the full budget is out.

New NASA administrator, citing China missions, calls for sustained support in Congress
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin
CBS News (5/19): During yesterday’s hearing before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson used imagery from China of its recently landed Mars rover to caution that U.S. leadership in space faces a challenge from that country if NASA’s space initiatives are not adequately funded. Nelson argued that the Mars landing proves China is serious about sending spacecraft to both the Moon and Mars, including human missions in the future.

SpaceX HLS contract gets protection in revised Senate bill
Coalition Members in the News – Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman
Spacepolicyonline.com (5/19): Changes to NASA authorization legislation included in the Endless Frontier Act that is making its way through the U.S. Senate would prevent NASA from terminating its contract with SpaceX to develop a Human Landing System (HLS) to shuttle astronauts between lunar orbit and the surface of the Moon. The change also extends from 30 to 60 days the period NASA has to select a second HLS contractor once the legislation is signed into law. Teams led by Blue Origin and Dynetics have protested NASA’s decision to select one rather than two contractors, as originally planned.

 

Space Science

Behold! China unveils 1st Mars photos from Zhurong rover
Space.com (5/19): On Wednesday, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) released two images, one in color and one in black and white, of the Martian surface at Utopia Planitia, the landing site of China’s Tianwen-1 lander and rover last weekend. The rover is days from rolling off its landing platform onto the surface.

 

Other News

China scrubs first cargo launch to new station with Tianzhou 2
NASAspaceflight.com (5/19): China scrubbed the planned launch of its Tianzhou 2 cargo mission to the cornerstone module of its new space station on Wednesday afternoon when an issue arose after rocket fueling. The first module of China’s new orbital space station, Tianhe, was launched April 29.

Someone has bid more than $2 million for the first New Shepard seat
Ars Technica (5/19): Days after Blue Origin announced it was seeking bids from visionaries for a seat aboard a launch of the company’s suborbital New Shepard rocket from West Texas, the price on Wednesday climbed from $1.4 million to $2 million and then $2.4 million. Blue Origin’s first passenger flight is planned for July 20. The current online auction will continue through June 10, giving way two days later to a live online auction among verified bidders. Proceeds will be donated to charity.

Petition to NASA: Name Moon-orbiting space station after Apollo 11’s Michael Collins
Space.com (5/19): More than 13,700 people have now signed a petition on Change.org seeking to name NASA’s planned lunar orbiting Gateway after the late Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins. The astronaut, who circled the Moon solo while Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land and walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969, passed away on April 28 at the age of 90.

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