This week in space: July 18, 2019

It's the Month of Apollo, y'all!

Welcome to Give Me Space, a weekly round-up of the most interesting things happening in space news.

July is basically the Month of Apollo, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, and you’ll see that most of the articles over this week and next are reflecting on that achievement, as well as our return to the lunar surface. There is no way I’ll be able to list all of the amazing articles you should check out, but I’ll give you a smattering here.

Many people don’t realize that there is, in fact, a scientific case to return to the moon. Rebecca Boyle talks to scientists about the theories behind how the moon was formed, and why we won’t have certain answers until we return, at The New York Times.

There are many issues we’ll have to contend with if and when we return to the lunar surface. One thing most people don’t think about is lunar dust — it gets everywhere, and it mucks up spacesuits and equipment. At The Verge, Loren Grush discusses how we might deal with that “dusty nightmare.”

Michael Collins was the third member Apollo 11 and is the least known (but if you haven’t read his memoir Carrying the Fire, I can’t recommend it highly enough). Still, being part of that mission means that his name has gone down in history. Now, he wishes people would stop asking him about what it felt like to be alone in the capsule, reports Marina Koren at The Atlantic.

Over at KCET-PBS, I wrote about the influence of pop culture on spaceflight (and vice versa) for their Summer of Space.

It turns out that just because we’re all about Apollo doesn’t mean that space news stops happening. Construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope began this week in Hawaii. If you haven’t been following this case, native Hawaiians are protesting the construction of yet another telescope on a mountain they consider sacred, Mauna Kea. And environmentalists are concerned about the telescope’s impact on this protected space. Morgan Krakow has more context over at The Washington Post.

Earlier this year, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which is supposed to be one of the two vehicles to shepherd astronauts to and from low Earth orbit, suffered a failure during a test. The company has finally released the reason, a leaky valve, that Miriam Kramer discusses at Axios. Now, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that Crew Dragon will have its first crewed flight this year.

SpaceX fired the engine on Starhopper, a prototype of its Mars launch vehicle, this week and it ended up catching on fire. It looks like the rocket itself wasn’t affected on the surface, but it’s not clear if there was any damage internally. Amy Thompson has more (including video you should watch) at Space.com.