Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 31st, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Bridenstine nurtures bipartisan support. U.S., Russian and European trio prepares for International Space Station launch. NASA’s science mission chief backs on time assessment of future astrophysics priorities.

Budget and Policy 

After rancorous confirmation fight, NASA’s Bridenstine mends fences with the Democrats who opposed him

USA Today (5/30): New NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine appears to be gathering new bi-partisan support, following a prolonged effort to win U.S. Senate confirmation to the post that was marked by concerns over his political background as an Oklahoma congressman. Bridenstine was sworn in April 23. In a recent Senate hearing on NASA’s 2019 budget proposal and its efforts to transition U.S. human exploration to deep space, Bridenstine won praise from Democrats as he explained an evolution in his understanding of the role humans play in climate change. “NASA is one of America’s most storied agencies and has long had bipartisan support,” Bridenstine said in a follow-up statement to USA Today. “Just as all previous Administrators, I intend to build and maintain great relationships on both sides of the aisle so NASA can continue its history-making science, exploration, and discovery missions.”


Human Space Exploration 

Space Station crew schedules delay need for Commercial Crew

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing (5/30): Recent NASA International Space Station crew assignment which point to Russian Soyuz launches in April and July of 2019 suggests U.S. astronauts will have access to the ISS into 2020, easing the timeline for NASA Commercial Crew program partners Boeing and SpaceX to certify their CST-100 Starliner and crewed Dragon for the commercial transportation of astronauts to and from the orbiting science laboratory.

Last days on Earth: Russian rocket launch road trip (5/30): Three U.S. Russian and European astronauts and cosmonauts are to launch to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan early June 6.’s veteran reporter Elizabeth Howell is on her way to Moscow and the Baikonur Cosmodrome to watch as NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev, and the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst depart. The lengthy stay will be the first trip to space for Aunon Chancellor, a medical doctor and Prokopyev, a military pilot.

NASA chief scientist interested in international cooperation for Moon, Mars projects

Mainchi of Japan (5/30): NASA welcomes the participation of Japan and other international partners in its plans to transition human space exploration from low Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars in the 2020s and 2030s, according to Jim Green, the agency’s chief scientist and long time lead for the Planetary Science Division. Japanese rockets and perhaps a module for NASA’s planned human tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOPG) and collaborations on other deep space missions are under discussion, said Green in a recent interview.


Space Science

NASA drops request to delay next astrophysics decadal

Space News (5/30): NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen has changed his mind about delaying the next National Academies of Science decadal assessment of national astrophysics priorities. In March, he suggested delaying the 2020 assessment because of cost and technical difficulties encountered by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST). Zurbuchen’s change of heart in favor or proceeding with the decadal matches the sentiments of many in the science community.

NASA dives deep into the search for life

NASA (5/30): Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa has long been a focus of those fascinated by the prospect of finding life beyond the Earth. NASA is formulating future robotic missions to Europa. But there may be an analogue on Earth as well, a volcanic island forming region in Hawaii. Like Europa and the moon Enceladus, Saturn’s equally fascinating prospect for life beyond Earth, Hawaii’s Lo ihi seamount may have much to reveal to Earth’s astrobiologists.

Astronomers scrutinized last year’s eclipse: Here’s what they’ve learned

Science News (5/29): Scientists are beginning to present their findings from last August’s widely followed total solar eclipse. High on their list of new observations were details about the sun’s super-hot corona and its magnetic field.

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