April 11th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, of Alabama, to chair Senate Appropriations Committee. White House continues to urge U.S. Senate confirmation of Jim Bridenstine as NASA administrator.  Jim Green, head of NASA’s planetary science division, has been appointed as the agency’s Chief Scientist.



Shelby takes over Senate appropriations committee, defense subcommittee: Moran to chair CJS (4/10): U.S. Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, whose statewide district includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which leads development of the Space Launch System (SLS), is the new chair of the U.S. Senate appropriations committee and will also chair the Defense subcommittee. The new chair of the Senate appropriation’s Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) subcommittee, which has legislative authority for NASA spending, is U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas.

President Trump still pushing NASA pick Bridenstine despite slim path to Senate confirmation

USA Today (4/10): In a statement, the White House said Tuesday that President Trump remains supportive of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, of Oklahoma, to serve as NASA’s administrator. Senate confirmation, however, appears uncertain because of Democratic opposition and questions over the lawmaker’s qualifications, just as it did during the previous session of Congress, according to the report. Acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot is retiring by the end of this month.


Human Space Exploration

NanoRacks lays out vision for turning rockets into space outposts, starting with Independence-1

Coalition Members in the News – United Launch Alliance and Nanoracks (4/10): Working with United Launch Alliance (ULA), Space Adventures and Maxar under a NASA NEXTStep deep space habitat phase 2 initiative, NanoRacks is exploring the conversion of United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 Centaur upper stages into orbital space habitats either attached to the International Space Station or free flying. The first is to be christened Independence 1 and potentially part of NASA’s strategy to transition low Earth orbit activities to the private sector so that it can focus on human deep space exploration.

SpaceX proposes to conduct Dragon splashdowns in Gulf of Mexico

Space News (4/10): A draft environmental assessment prepared for the FAA describes how SpaceX plans to use the Gulf of Mexico as a backup splashdown site for its Dragon spacecraft, which are currently recovered from the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. Launch sites include Florida and a new launch complex under construction in Brownsville, Texas. SpaceX plans to use the Atlantic Ocean as its primary recovery site for crewed Dragon missions.


Space Science

NASA selects planetary science director as new chief scientist

Space News (4/10): Jim Green, who has led NASA planetary science division since 2006, will become the agency’s chief scientist, effective May 1. He joined NASA in 1980 and has been a strong advocate and spokesperson for the agency’s planetary science and broader space science portfolio.

Proxima Centauri just released a flare so powerful it was visible to the unaided eye. Planets there would get scorched

Universe Today (4/10): Proxima b is the closest extra solar planet and orbits within the habitable region of the star Proxima Centauri. However, Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star and prone to flare. A recent eruption was so powerful that the flare would have been lethal to any life as we know it on Proxima b, according a study led by a University of North Carolina researcher. The event was observed in March 2016.

Hubble telescope discovers a light-bending ‘Einstein ring’ in space (4/10): SDSS J0146-0929 is a huge cluster of galaxies all strapped together by gravity.  An image from the Hubble Space Telescope also reveals the cluster is an Einstein Ring, or a structure so massive it bends the light emitted by stellar objects behind it.


Other News

To keep the U.S. competitive, space regulation needs streamlining

The Hill (4/10): Efforts to launch commercial spacecraft can involve regulatory oversight by multiple federal agencies. In an op-ed, Bill Bruner, a former assistant administrator for Legislative Affairs at NASA and military affairs assistant in the Office of the Speaker of the House, examines the process, unintended consequences and potential remedies.

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