Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 18th, 2021

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Pam Melroy as NASA’s Deputy Administrator. 


Human Space Exploration

Senate confirms NASA Deputy Administrator, NOAA administrator
Coalition for Deep Space Exploration and CEO Frank Slazer in the News (6/17): The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed the nomination of Pam Melroy, retired NASA astronaut and U.S. Air Force test pilot, and former space shuttle commander, to serve as Deputy Administrator of NASA. “Deputy Administrator Melroy’s remarkable technical, managerial, and policy backgrounds, and her knowledge of NASA as well as the international space community, will be critical for tackling the agency’s challenges and advancing its goals, especially as Orion, SLS and other systems are being readied to take Americans back to the Moon,” said the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration’s President and CEO Frank Slazer. Read our statement. President Biden’s nomination of Rick Spinrad to lead NOAA was also confirmed by the Senate yesterday.

On this day in space! June 18, 1983: Sally Ride becomes America’s 1st woman in space (6/18): On June 18, 1983, NASA astronaut Sally Ride became America’s first woman in space after she and four colleagues blasted off on the space shuttle Challenger for the STS-7 mission. The astronauts spent six days in space and deployed two communications satellites for Indonesia and Canada. Ride became the first woman to operate Canadarm, the shuttle’s robotic arm. 


Space Science

Tantalizing Pluto views suggest active surface but won’t be seen again for 161 years (6/17): For a brief moment in time in July 2018, the solar system aligned to show Earth the fully sunlit disk of Pluto, something that won’t occur again for 161 years. Planetary scientist Bonnie Buratti had been waiting for a decade for the opportunity to catch the rare sight in hopes of filling a gap in knowledge that even the New Horizons mission couldn’t tackle. The result is an enigmatic plot of light from Pluto and its moon, Charon. Observations of a solar system body at and around the point of its maximum illumination allow scientists to measure what they call the “opposition surge,” a sudden increase in brightness of an object as it is fully illuminated. Scientists believe the pattern of the surge is influenced by the density of material on a world’s surface.


Other News

House hearing rehashes longstanding commercial space transportation issues
Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (6/17): The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee held a hearing on commercial space transportation on Wednesday. Tory Bruno, President and CEO of United Launch Alliance (ULA) appeared as witness in the hearing. “It is vital that Congress provides FAA the support it needs to conduct effective oversight and enforcement of the licensing process,” said Bruno in his opening statement. “Responsible operators will comply with FAA regulations and license. Those who do not should face enforcement and impactful consequences.”

Japan passes space resources law (6/17): Japan’s parliament has passed legislation permitting Japanese companies to obtain and use resources from planetary bodies. The new Law Concerning the Promotion of Business Activities Related to the Exploration and Development of Space Resources requires companies to first obtain permission for the activities from the government.

China wants to build a sustainable human presence on Mars. Here’s how. (6/16): Remarks Wednesday before the Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia by a senior industry official from China, suggests the Asian nation is among those assessing how to get astronauts to Mars. Wang Xiaojing, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), pointed to China’s successful landing of the Zhurong rover on Mars and plans to assess the value of Martian in situ resources as evidence of its commitment.

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