Today’s Deep Space Extra for Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November 4th, 2015

Today’s Deep Space Extra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Two space veterans make the case for the moon as a destination on the way to Mars with humans. As NASA starts a human Mars landing site selection process, some wonder if the funding and technology will be sufficient for a voyage in the 2030s. Water on Mars: Whose is it anyway? The Halloween asteroid gets a close look. The European Space Agency will bring its historic Rosetta mission to an end in September 2016. The U.S. Air Force Super Strypi rapid launch response demonstration from Hawaii fails late Tuesday. U.S. Senate holds up commercial space legislation. The crew access tower rises at Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launch site. China launches a military communications satellite. Mystery space debris predicted to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 13 could be part of former moon mission.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Moon over Mars: Why U.S. needs a lunar mission first (op-ed) (11/3): The moon deserves a place for human explorers in NASA’s plans to reach Mars with astronauts, write former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao and Elliot Pulham, an executive with the Space Foundation. “We need to explore, and perhaps settle, both. In order. And, to go on from there,” they write in an op-ed.

NASA debates where to land on Mars, but are we ready to go?
New Scientist (11/3): While NASA widens the discussion over landing site candidates for the first human mission to Mars, other supporters question whether there will be the money, technology and sustained political support necessary for a series of missions in the 2030s. The space agency hosted its first landing site workshop last week, uniting scientists, engineers, planners and astronauts in the selection process for the most suitable landing site in the mid-2030s.

If there is water on Mars, who gets to use it? (11/3): Recent announcements of liquid water on Mars could become a magnet for future human explorers — if the settlement of the American West sets a precedent.

Unmanned Deep Space Exploration

NASA releases new close-ups of the Halloween asteroid
Popular Science (11/3): Asteroid 2015 TB145, likely an expired comet, passed a close distance from the Earth on Halloween, earning the nick name Spooky. New images suggest anything but.

Historic Rosetta mission to end with crash into comet
Nature (11/4): The European Space Agency prepares for the end of the Rosetta mission to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with the comet in August 2014 and deployed the lander Philae to the surface in November 2014. Rosetta’s gentle mission ending crash into the comet in September 2016 is expected to provide the best close up images yet.

Low Earth Orbit

Air Force declares failure on Super Strypi test launch (11/4): The demonstration launch of the U.S. Air Force Super Strypi rapid response launch vehicle from Hawaii failed quickly Tuesday after lifting off with 13 small satellite payloads from several government agencies and universities.

Military communications craft likely aboard Chinese launch (11/3): China launches what experts believe is a military communications satellite on Tuesday.

Mystery object to reenter Earth’s atmosphere
Sky & Telescope (11/3): WT1190F, a mystery object in orbit around the Earth and first observed by the Catalina Sky Survey two years ago, is predicted to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere on Nov. 13. Some believe its debris from a long ago moon mission.

Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

Senate holds up final passage of commercial space bill 
Space News (11/3): New legislation governing the U.S. commercial launch industry has yet to emerge from the U.S. Senate after one or more lawmakers impose a hold. Some protests over launch liability provisions of the House/Senate legislation have been noted.

Construction of SLC-41’s new Crew Access Tower continues
Spaceflight Insider (11/3): The tower will provide astronaut access to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, the Atlas 5 launched crew capsule under development through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to provide human transportation to and from the International Space Station. The tower at Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., should be complete next year. Test launches will follow. NASA plans to begin astronaut launches by the end of 2017.


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