Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 2nd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. Senate and White House urge support for space exploration, with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee supporting sustained NASA involvement in the International Space Station to 2030 and the Trump Administration listing space exploration as a top budget priority.  Poll suggests Americans consider Earth science and planetary protection as priorities. Boeing offers new planning dates for uncrewed and crewed CST-100 Starliner test flights.


Space Policy

Senators seek focus on Mars in NASA’s exploration plans (8/1): Legislation now in formulation in the U.S. Senate urges policymakers not to overlook Mars in their long-term human exploration focus, even with a human tended, NASA-managed Platform lunar Gateway as the next step. A July 25 hearing before the Senate’s Space Subcommittee on these topics featured testimony from a range of U.S. experts.

Trump administration lists space exploration as a top budget priority

Parabolic Arc (8/1): Among 13 priorities highlighted for by the White House Office of Management and Budget for U.S. federal department heads in the budget submission process for fiscal year 2020 is American Space Exploration and Commercialization. The directive emphasizes a research and innovation potential that pay direct benefits to Earth.

The actual July 31 memo can be viewed HERE.

Senate committee approves Space Frontier Act (8/1): The Space Frontier Act, which includes bipartisan provisions that would extend NASA’s direct support of the International Space Station from 2025 –as proposed by the White House — to 2030, moves from the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to the full Senate for consideration. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who chairs the Committee’s Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee, is hopeful the measure could reach the president for signature by the end of this congressional session. But the 2025/2030 Station support date issue and other provisions conflict with the administration’s priorities.

Bloomberg polls on space exploration priorities differ from the plans of NASA Administration and the White House

Bloomberg (8/1): Asked to select from six options, Americans polled by Bloomberg on NASA’s top priorities, chose monitoring Earth’s climate, followed by protecting the Earth from asteroid impacts. Sending astronauts to the Moon ranked lowest, though it is a White House priority. More favored the human exploration of other planets.

Trump’s pick to head White House science office gets good reviews

Science (7/31): Scientists are praising the White House nominee for science policy advisor, meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, a university administrator and former vice-chair of the governing board of the U.S. National Science Foundation and supporter of climate change research.


Human Space Exploration

Boeing shifts schedule for Starliner, calls 2019 crew launch “realistic”

Coalition Member in the News – Boeing

Ars Technica (8/1): Many in the U.S. space community are eagerly awaiting the capabilities to launch humans domestically for the first time since NASA’s shuttle program was retired in July 2011. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its partners, Boeing and SpaceX, are striving to make that happen. Boeing is now targeting late 2018 or early 2019, rather than this month (August 2018), for the first uncrewed test launch of its CST-100 Starliner, followed by the first launch of the Starliner with astronauts in mid-2019, rather than November 2018. SpaceX has yet to offer a revision in previously planned uncrewed and crewed test launches of the Dragon 2 in August and December 2018, respectively.

Feature: German astronaut looks forward to working in China space station

Xinhuanet of China (8/1): European Space Agency Astronaut Matthias Maurer, of Germany, is training for a future mission to China’s yet to be assembled space station. China announced in May that all member states of the U.N. are welcome to cooperate with China to jointly utilize its future Chinese space station.


Space Science

Planet Nine: ‘Insensitive’ term riles scientists (8/1): A decision a dozen years ago by the International Astronomical Union to reclassify distant Pluto from planet to dwarf planet did not please many astronomers, who are more recently troubled by talk of a yet to be discovered “Planet 9.” Nearly three dozen scientists are protesting the 2006 decision and what it means to the late Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. The 2006 reclassification diminished the solar system’s planet count to eight.

Asteroid sample-return spacecraft are approaching their targets

Scientific American (8/2018): Two robotic missions, NASA’s Osiris Rex, and Japan’s Hyabusa 2, are nearing their destination asteroids, Bennu and Ryugu respectively, where they are to conduct extensive reconnaissance before touching down to gather samples for return to Earth. Both missions could help to explain how and when the Earth obtained its water and the precursors for life.

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