Today’s Deep Space Extra for Thursday, December 3, 2015

December 3rd, 2015

Today’s Deep Space Extra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides critical 3-D manufactured components for the NASA/Lockheed Martin Orion crew exploration capsule. Russia cuts its 10-year space budget, while planning to develop a future human lunar base. A budding 9-year-old newsman questions NASA Administrator Charles Bolden over the future exploration of Mars. European LISA Pathfinder mission launches early Thursday for gravity wave research. Kepler’s tally of the largest alien planets may include binary stars and brown dwarfs. NASA International Space Station marathoner Scott Kelly remains upbeat as his near yearlong mission unfolds. Much of China’s space prowess involves military capabilities, according to new assessment. Orbital ATK is set to resume NASA contracted resupply missions to the International Space Station with a launching Thursday evening. Paris based Eutelsat plays down concerns over possible telecommunications over capacity. Go for Launch makes holiday space gift giving easy.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Aerojet Rocketdyne completes 3-D printed parts for Orion Spacecraft
Spaceflight Insider (12/2): Aerojet Rocketdyne has embraced additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, to manufacture components for the NASA/Lockheed Martin Orion crew exploration vehicle. A dozen extensions of the reaction control system nozzles were made using the novel technology. All 12 components were manufactured in three weeks, which is a 40 percent reduction in production time in comparison to conventional manufacturing methods, according to the company. The Orion spacecraft is to participate in the first uncrewed test flight of the Space Launch System exploration rocket in late 2018.

Roscosmos 10-year budget cut for third time
Moscow Times (12/3): Russia is cutting its 10-year space budget projections for a third time this year due to the country’s economic difficulties. The latest 10 year spending projection is $22.5 billion, Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, said in a statement earlier this week. “We have optimized the program, maintaining key projects which will allow the industry to develop.” Roscosmos director Igor Komarov is quoted as saying.

Russia reportedly plans to build a Moon base by 2030
Huffington Post (12/2): According to the report, Russia plans a robotic mission in 2024 that will scout the moon’s south pole for a human lunar base site. Cosmonauts would conduct an orbital lunar mission in 2028, followed by a landing at the end of the decade. The lunar base would be assembled in the 2030s.

9-year-old reporter talks Mars trips with NASA chief (video) (12/2): Max, a 9-year-old budding news reporter, has logged an interview with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at the agency’s Washington headquarters. Dressed in suit and tie and positioned before TV cameras, Max asked Bolden about where the space agency planned to send its next rocket. “The big destination for us is Mars, sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.” Bolden explained.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

European probe blasts off on gravitational wave demonstration (12/3): The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder mission lifted off early Thursday atop a Vega launch vehicle from French Guiana. The spacecraft, funded in part by NASA, is destined for the L1 Lagrange point, where it will assess the presence of gravity waves as predicted by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

More than half of purported giant alien worlds may not exist
Science (12/2): A new assessment of alien planet candidates detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggests that more than half of the largest ones are either binary stars or brown dwarfs circling a star.

Low Earth Orbit

Astronaut Scott Kelly still upbeat after months in space
USAToday (12/2): NASA’s Scott Kelly, well past the half way point in a joint yearlong expedition to the International Space Station with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, has found solace from the demands of his lengthy mission in his surroundings, including the Romaine lettuce and Zinnias cultivated as part of an experiment called Veggie.

China’s space prowess could challenge decades of U.S. dominance (12/2): As a nation, China has emerged as one of the most space capable nations, according to an assessment prepared by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. Much of China’s investment and progress is based in military activities intended to counter the U.S. in a possible conflict, according to the report.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

NASA set to launch supply ship to Space Station
New York Times (12/2): Orbital ATK prepares to deliver more than 7,700 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station with a lift off Thursday. It will be the first NASA contracted re-supply mission to the six person orbiting science laboratory for Orbital since an Oct. 28, 2014 launch day mishap. Thursday’s lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., is set for 5:55 p.m., EST.

Eutelsat plays down threats facing satellite telecom business
Space News (12/2): Eutelsat, the Paris based satellite fleet operator, offers reassurances to prospective investors in the telecommunications industry. The forecast is based on diminishing costs in the face of forecasts of overcapacity in broadband availability.

Out of the world gift ideas for space lovers
Orlando Sentinel (12/2): Go for Launch offers a list of holiday gifts for space enthusiasts. The gifts, deemed appropriate for youngsters up to pre-teen, range from clothing to binoculars.

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