Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 19th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… President Trump’s nomination of Jim Bridenstine, an Oklahoma congressman and veteran U.S. Navy aviator, to become NASA administrator advanced Thursday for consideration by the full Senate. U.S. government agencies, including NASA, face a midnight Friday shutdown of all but critical activities, if Congress cannot agree on a new continuing budget resolution — this one effective through February 16.

Human Space Exploration

How a small nuclear reactor could power a colony on Mars or beyond (op-ed) (1/18): Kilopower, a small nuclear reactor developed by the Las Alamos National Laboratory and NASA, could serve as a surface power source for human habitats on the moon and Mars. One function could be help process in situ resources into rocket propellants for the journey back to Earth,

Hubble mission commander, spacewalker to enter Astronaut Hall of Fame

“We are pleased that Dr. Jones is a member of the Coalition Board of Advisors – Congratulations Tom!” (1/19): The commander of the final space shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope and a three-time spacewalker who helped to install the U.S. laboratory on the International Space Station will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in April. Former NASA astronauts Scott Altman and Thomas Jones will be honored as the Hall’s 2018 class of inductees at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. A public ceremony on April 21, followed by a gala dinner hosted by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), will welcome Altman and Jones as the 96th and 97th enshrinees in the Astronaut Hall of Fame.


Space Science

NASA gears up for Mars 2020 mission

CBS News (1/18): Mars 2020 is a NASA rover that will use radar to identify subsurface water deposits on the red planet and collect small samples of aged rock and soil for possible future return to Earth. What was Mars like when life emerged on Earth? Mars 2020 could offer clues.


Other News

Bridenstine, Myers nominations again clear committee on party-line votes (1/18): The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee convened Thursday, advancing President Trump’s nomination of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to be NASA administrator and his nominee to lead NOAA, Accu Weather CEO Barry Myers, to the full Senate. They’ve moved toward consideration for the top jobs by the full Senate by 14-13 vote margins, or along party lines. The two nominees got just as far last year, but Congress adjourned prior to consideration by the full Senate. The president renominated the two men early this year, starting the process anew.

Shutdown update (1/18): The U.S. House Thursday passed its version of a fourth budget continuing resolution (CR) to keep the U.S. government operating beyond Friday at midnight. Congress and the White House failed to pass a budget for the 2018 fiscal year that began last October 1. Short term CRs, however, have kept federal agencies open. Without Senate confirmation of the latest CR passed by the House and intended to keep the government active through February 16, a shutdown at midnight of all but critical activities is likely.

Atlas 5 team scrubs launch to study troublesome valve

Coalition Member in the News: United Launch Alliance (1/19): Efforts to launch a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 with a U.S. Air Force infrared surveillance satellite was scrubbed Thursday in response to a first stage liquid oxygen propellant system fill and drain valve issue. Another attempt to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, is possible Friday, with a 40 minute window that opens at 7:48 p.m., EST.

Deputy Defense Secretary Shanahan to take over duties of principal space adviser

Space News (1/18): Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will be taking on the duties of space adviser that previously resided with the secretary of the Air Force, according to a January 17 memorandum sent to Defense Department military and civilian leaders. In the memo, titled “Guidance for Increasing Lethality and Warfighting Readiness in Space,” Shanahan lists a number of changes that will be made to the management and organization of the national security space enterprise. The most important shift is Shanahan assuming the oversight of the military space portfolio that previously resided with the secretary of the Air Force. Shanahan’s memo was written in accordance with Section 1601 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

Pentagon nominee Griffin promises stronger DoD leadership in advancing technology

Space News (1/18): The United States military can no longer count on having technological dominance over its adversaries. For the Pentagon, this is a pivotal moment that demands bold action, said Michael Griffin, the Trump administration’s nominee for the position of undersecretary of defense for research and engineering. Global spread of technology that the Pentagon used to own exclusively has shifted the balance of power, a situation that “demands that we reassert our technological leadership,” Griffin told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday during a confirmation hearing for a slate of Pentagon nominees.

Russia now looking to sell its prized rocket engines to China

Ars Technica (1/18):  As the U.S. strives to develop domestic alternatives to imports of Russia’s rocket hardware, including the RD-180 rocket engine for the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5, Moscow has turned to China as a potential customer for copies of its powerful and reliable rocket engine.

Long March 11 rocket launches five small Chinese satellites and Canadian CubeSat

GB Times of Finland (1/19): China’s latest in a flurry of early 2018 rocket launches placed a half-dozen satellites in Earth orbit on Friday. The payload included a Canadian communications satellite, Earth observation and student spacecraft and other smaller satellites to evaluate a range of technologies.

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