Space Budgets, Policy, Missions, Benefits, International Updates

Human Space Exploration Update (January 1-12, 2018)

Lunar Exploration:  Op-ed | Next stop: the moon  Leaders of the recently created Moon Village Association, based in Vienna, suggest the association can serve as an effective non-governmental forum for government, industry, academia and the public in establishing a global strategy for coordinating future lunar surface activities.

China Moon Program Plans:  China promises the Moon  Despite mission failures, China appears determined to become the third nation after the U.S. and Russia to land a spacecraft on the moon. Though Beijing has not provided details, human exploration is intended sometime between 2025 and 2050. A Chinese robotic lunar sample return is possible by 2019, accompanying planned reconnaissance of the lunar poles for the identification of resources for future exploration.

Mars Exploration:  My year on Mars  “Make no mistake, sending humans to Mars is much more than just a technical challenge,” writes physicist Christiane Heinicke, part of a six-member team that spent 365 days sheltered on the remote Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii as part of a NASA financed study of the psychological challenges associated with a two to three-year journey to the red planet. “Each one of us brought to the project different personality traits, experiences, attitudes and work habits.”  (See also:  How will the 3 year Mars mission affect humans? NASA wants to find out)

Deep Space Gateway:  Scientists and engineers push for servicing and assembly of future space observatories   At the American Astronomical Society meeting in Maryland this week, a group of astronomers and engineers urged NASA to consider the in space assembly and servicing of future space telescopes by astronauts. They suggest NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbiting human outpost, could play a significant role.  (See also: Thales Alenia working with three companies on Deep Space Gateway concepts)

Blue Origin – New Shepard Update:  Blue Origin a year away from crewed New Shepard flights  Jeff Ashby, the former NASA astronaut and Blue Origins’ director of safety and mission assurance, discussed the prospect of the first New Shepard suborbital passenger flight a year from now at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Bloomfield, Colorado, on Monday. The company’s New Shepard carried out a successful West Texas test flight on December 12.

Polar Orbit Launches from the Cape:  Southbound? Cape rockets may fly new path toward poles  Commercial as well as government payloads could soon be launching into polar orbit from Cape Canaveral, Florida, if equipped with automated flight termination systems. The U.S. Air Force has opened a “polar corridor” for Florida Space Coast launches for the first time since 1960. Polar launches have been limited to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. A 2016 wildfire episode near Vandenberg prompted the change.

Citizens for Space Exploration – a pro-space, taxpayer, grassroots advocacy group Citizens Space Explorateion_logo( – has traveled to Washington, D.C. the past 24 years to meet face-to-face with Members/staff of Congress to discuss the value of America’s investment in space exploration. In order to sustain that dialogue on a regular basis, Citizens distributes “Space Exploration Update” to Congressional offices on a weekly basis. The intent is to provide an easy, quick way to stay abreast of key human space exploration program and policy developments.