In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasizes the link between future efforts to return U.S. astronauts to the Moon and efforts to reach Mars with human explorers. NASA’s U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee (Commerce, Justice, Science) quickly marks up a $21.5 billion 2019 NASA spending bill on Wednesday, or $1.6 billion more than the White House request.
Policy and Budget
Spacepolicyonline (5/9): The U.S. House Appropriation’s subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science made quick work of a multi-agency 2019 appropriations markup late Wednesday that included more than $21.5 billion for NASA, or $1.6 billion above the White House request and $810 million above the 2018 appropriation. The Space Launch System (SLS), Orion and associated Exploration Ground Systems are all funded at 2018 levels in the appropriation bill, rather than at the reductions proposed by the White House. The measure includes funding for an SLS Exploration Upper Stage and $504 million for development of the human tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway. The top line includes funding for orbiter/flyby and lander planetary science missions to Europa, the ice and ocean covered moon of Jupiter, which is considered a potential site for biological activity.
Human Space Exploration
Space News (5/9): In remarks Wednesday before the Human to Mars Summit in Washington, new NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine assured his audience the agency is as serious about reaching the red planet with human explorers as it is about returning to the Moon’s surface with astronauts in the near term. “If some of you are concerned that our focus in the coming years is the moon, don’t be,” he said. “The president’s vision has emphasized that our Exploration Campaign will establish American leadership in the human exploration of Mars. We are doing both the moon and Mars, in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other.”
Space.com (5/9): New NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stressed the synergies shared by the human exploration of the Moon and Mars in the Trump Administration’s plan to transition the agency’s human exploration focus from low Earth orbit to deep space in brief remarks Wednesday. He spoke before the three-day Human to Mars Summit underway in Washington. “We’re doing both the Moon and Mars in tandem, and the missions are supportive of each other,” he told the gathering.
Spaceflightnow.com (5/9): China has successfully launched a civilian Earth reconnaissance satellite mission to monitor the environment. The Gaofen 5’s eight year mission began with a liftoff Tuesday atop a Long March 4C rocket from a northern China launch site. The mission will likely reduce China’s reliance on climate data produced by other nations.
Spaceflightinsider (5/9): With all the drama of a best-selling novel, Chasing New Horizons: Inside the First Epic Mission to Pluto tells the story of the world’s first mission to distant Pluto through the eyes of its principle investigator Alan Stern and astrobiologist and team member David Grinspoon. Launched in 2006, New Horizons made its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015. The mission continues, as New Horizons is on course for a close flyby of a second Kuiper Belt Object, 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019.
Washington Post via Orlando Sentinel (5/8): In an op-ed, NASA New Horizon’s mission principle investigator Alan Stern and fellow scientist David Grinspoon explain why distant Pluto should not have lost its planet status, a designation removed by the International Astronomical Union in 2006. New Horizons revealed an active landscape with mountains, ice blue skies and smog.
Common Space, of Scotland (5/9): Scotland’s Shetland Islands could become the home to a British spaceport, one developed for the launch of small commercial and government satellites, a growing segment of the launch services market. The site is ideally located for the launch of spacecraft into polar and sun synchronous orbits, according to supporters.
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