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Today’s Deep Space Extra for Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November 3rd, 2015

Today’s Deep Space Extra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. A NASA workshop gathered scientists and engineers to prep for the first human landings on Mars. NASA engineers have tested a rocket engine that could run on propellant produced on Mars. Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin urges the world’s youth to settle Mars. While the U.S. sets its sights on the human exploration of Mars, Europe, Russia and China look to the moon as the next human destination in space. Lockheed Martin preps NASA’s next Mars lander, InSight, for a March liftoff. China unveils a scaled version of a 2020 Mars lander in Shanghai. Astronomers unravel planet-building processes. NASA celebrates 15 years of a continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station. XCOR pursues steady progress with its Lynx suborbital space plane development.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Human Mars mission a “go” for 2035
Air & Space (11/2): A NASA-sponsored workshop has started the search for prospective human landing sites on Mars. Current planning calls for a series of three to five 500 day expeditions starting in the mid-2030s, each with a crew of up to a half dozen astronauts. Scientists and engineers envision landing zones that extend 100 kilometers in every direction that include features of high science value and resources such as underground water. The four-day workshop in Houston last week featured nearly 50 landing site suggestions, some of which will be studied further with existing NASA satellites and rovers.

NASA tests methane engine components for future landers
Spaceflight Insider (11/2): At NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, engineers have tested a rocket engine fueled with methane for a future Mars lander. Methane is a fuel that could be produced on Mars to help future astronauts began the journey back to Earth. Mars 2020, NASA’s next robotic Mars rover, will test technologies for the production of propellants and oxygen for life support on the red planet.

Buzz Aldrin – The President that sends us to Mars will be remembered for 1,000s of years
ILS Science (11/1): Apollo 11’s Buzz Aldrin envisions a human Mars settlement, a venture that inspires and excites the world’s youth. His book, Welcome to Mars, co-written by Marianne Dyson, explains how perhaps his grandchildren will embark on that adventure.

Building a Moon village
The Space Review (11/2): The moon is apparently not for everyone. The European Space Agency’s new director general, Johann-Dietrich Wörner, speaks of a multinational moon village, a settlement on the lunar far side. Russia and China talk too of plans for their explorers to reach the moon. While NASA’s priority is a destination deeper in space, eventually Mars, the U.S. commercial space sector may find the moon a worthy goal, writes TSR editor Jeff Foust.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

NASA’s InSight Mars lander on track for March 2016 launch
Spaceflight Insider (11/2): Currently undergoing pre-mission testing by manufacturer Lockheed Martin Space Systems, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight lander, will probe Mars’ internal processes, listening for quakes and meteor impacts. The findings are expected to provide information on how rocky planets form. A March launch is planned.

China’s self-developed Mars probe to be on show
Xinhuanet of China (11/2): A scaled version of a robotic Mars lander that China is preparing for a 2020 launch goes on display Tuesday at the 17th China International Industry Fair in Shanghai.

Dust gaps around young stars not exoplanet ‘proof’
Discovery.com (11/2): Astronomers re-examine a notion that gaps in the dust disks around distant stars signal newly formed planets. New observations suggest the gaps are instead filled by planets in the making and building blocks that scatter light in uncharacteristic ways.

Low Earth Orbit

Space Station marks 15 years of nonstop human presence
Associated Press via New York Times (11/2): NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hailed the International Space Station’s 15 years of continuous occupation as an important example of global cooperation. “It has taught us about what’s possible when tens of thousands of people across 15 countries collaborate to advance shared goals,” Bolden said Monday, marking the occasion.

15 years later, Space Station commander recalls 1st expedition
Collectspace.com (11/2): NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd reflects on the 15th anniversary of the first crewed mission to the International Space Station. “We learned a lot doing this,” said Shepherd, who served as commander of the three man U.S. and Russian crew. “I think it is a good road map for bigger things in the future.”

NASA marks 15 years of Space Station occupation
CBS News via Spaceflightnow.com (11/2): Preparations for the International Space Station were marked by the end of the Cold War, uncertainty in the U.S. over direction for human space exploration and funding concerns.

International Space Station anniversary: 15 secrets of living outside of Earth
ABC News (11/2): Life aboard the International Space Station is enhanced by fresh fruit and some time alone to compose music, maybe write poetry, explain those who have lived and worked aboard the orbiting science laboratory over the past 15 years.

Suborbital

XCOR’s Lynx reusable launch vehicle approaches completion
America Space (11/2): In Mojave, Calif., XCOR’s reusable suborbital passenger space plane is coming together step by step. The company has vowed not to rush the production of its first test vehicle.

 

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