Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 24th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Paragon Space Development Corp. scores NASA, Northrop Grumman contracts. Zhurong Mars rover rolled onto the surface of the Red Planet on Friday.


Human Space Exploration

SLS core stage thermal protection system refurbishment in work at Kennedy for Artemis 1
Coalition Members in the News – Aerojet Rocketdyne, Boeing, Jacobs, Northrop Grumman (5/20): NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) programs are working with Core Stage prime contractor Boeing and prime test operations and support contractor Jacobs to finish repairs to thermal protection system (TPS) spray-on foam insulation on the Artemis I Core Stage at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. Now that the core stage is in the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at KSC, TPS refurbishment is the remaining major task before it can be rotated to vertical, lifted into the High Bay 3 integration cell, and mated to the SLS boosters that are already stacked on the Mobile Launcher (ML).

Paragon wins NASA contracts, named HALO partner
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, Paragon Space Development Corp.
Aerospace Manufacturing and Design (5/24): Tucson, Arizona-based Paragon Space Development Corp. has been awarded new work under NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Paragon’s two awards are to further develop two specific technologies: ISRU Collector of Ice in a Cold Lunar Environment (ICICLE) and Mechanical-compression Aerobot for extended Range Venus ExpLoration (MARVEL). Paragon has also been selected by Northrop Grumman to provide the Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) for the Gateway’s Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO).


Space Science

Zhurong rover rolls onto Martian surface a week after landing (5/22): China’s Zhurong Mars rover rolled to the surface of the Red Planet at Utopia Planitia in the northern hemisphere late Friday, U.S. time. Zhurong’s science payload includes a ground penetrating radar as well as optical and multispectral cameras. Launched in July 2020, the mission’s Tianwen-1 orbiter with the lander and rover achieved orbit around Mars on February 10. Zhurong was developed for a 90-day primary mission.



Multiple providers limit risk in returning to the Moon (5/21): The award to a single provider in the Human Landing System (HLS) program could hinder America’s ambition to land on the moon in the next couple of years, argues space writer Jonathan H. Ward. The author adds that America’s best shot at a permanent presence on the moon is to fund a program that enables multiple providers to explore and develop the technologies to achieve the mission but says that “the underlying problem for NASA’s sole-source decision on Artemis is yet another unfunded government mandate.”


Other News

Space Force looking to build new radar sites to track objects in high orbits (5/23): The U.S. Space Force’s Deep Space Advanced Radar Concept (DARC) will track active satellites and debris in altitudes around geosynchronous orbit. Up to three radar sites could be established in the coming years. The military could soon select one or more contractors to develop prototypes for the project initiated in 2017.

Virgin Galactic launches 1st SpaceShipTwo spaceflight from New Mexico (5/22): Virgin Galactic on Saturday carried out a successful test flight of SpaceShipTwo with two pilots aboard, C.J. Sturchow and Dave McKay. The flight was suborbital and the first to reach space from New Mexico and Spaceport America, or at least the altitude recognized by NASA and the U.S. Air Force as the space boundary, 50 miles or 80 kilometers.

‘Super Flower Blood Moon’ webcasts: How to watch the supermoon eclipse of 2021 online (5/23): The Earth and full Moon will be at their closest early Wednesday for a total eclipse. The Earth’s shadow will begin to fall across the lunar surface to mark the start of the full eclipse at 7:11 a.m. EDT and move off at 7:25 a.m. to mark the end. The entire session begins at 4:47 a.m. and concludes at 9:49 a.m. The Earth’s shadow will provide the Moon with a reddish hue. The Moon is “super” when it is both full and at its closest to Earth. Those in regions where the Moon is not visible, or it is too cloudy will have their choice of several live webcast presentations.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week

Major space related activities for the week of May 23-29, 2021 (5/23): President Biden is expected to release a detailed budget proposal for the 2022 fiscal year this week. Top line figures were released on April 9, including a total of $24.7 billion for NASA, up $1.5 billion, or 6.3 percent from 2021. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is scheduled to address a joint virtual meeting of the National Academies’ Space Studies Board (SSB) and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) on Tuesday. The two boards are meeting individually and jointly on Monday through Thursday. Explore Mars will hold the Mars Innovation Forum (Mars-If), virtually, from May 25 to the 27. NASA will host a Commercial Low Earth Orbit Destinations Pre-Proposal Conference on Wednesday to gather feedback on plans to expand the low Earth orbit economy with commercial “free flyers” as future replacements for the International Space Station (ISS). Also, on Monday a Northeastern Pennsylvania Small Business Day event with an Artemis theme will feature NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep Matt Cartwright, starting at 10 a.m. EDT.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.