In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Impact and results of U.S. Congressional Mid Term elections continues to unfold. FAA grants a space launch license to the Cape Canaveral Shuttle Spaceport Landing Facility on Florida’s Space Coast.
Mid-Term Election Results
The Atlantic (11/8): Tuesday’s mid-term elections shifted power in the U.S. House from Republicans to Democrats, a shift that is raising concerns over the direction and funding of civil space policy. Among the election casualties was U.S. Rep. John Culberson, who chaired the House appropriations subcommittee with responsibility for NASA’s budget. Culberson, a noted advocate for future robotic missions to the Jovian moon Europa, was also supportive of plans to resume human deep space exploration and climate science. Culberson’s defeat among civilian space advocates was not isolated.
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/8): The U.S. Senate seat held by Bill Nelson, a longtime Florida Democrat and supporter of civilian space programs, remained undecided late Thursday, two days after mid-term balloting. Challenger Rick Scott, the state’s Republican governor, has filed a lawsuit, alleging voter fraud. A recount may be in the offing. Nelson supports an extension of NASA oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) beyond 2025.
Human Space Exploration
Space.com (11/8): MIT aerospace engineer Dava Newman, a former NASA deputy administrator, is leading the development of a new and more functional space suit, a design intended to provide the wearer more flexibility when it comes to exploring planetary surfaces.
Collectspace.com (11/8): Space Center Houston (SCH), the NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC) visitors center, organized a greeting ceremony Thursday for 10 Apollo era Mission Control consoles that have been refurbished to look as they did during the Moon landings. In all, two dozen of the consoles are to be refurbished as part of a $5 million restoration of JSC’s original Mission Control room in time for the 50th anniversary of the July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing. On hand were some of the personnel that staffed the consoles for missions dating back to Gemini and Apollo as well as the space shuttle.
Space.com (11/8): Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who logged a 340 day mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015-16, the longest space mission by an American, is the author of “Infinite Wonder,” a collection of imagery from his long stay aboard the Station with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.
Universe Today (11/7): NASA’s latest mission to Mars, Mars Insight, is to land on November 26. After touching down at Elysium Planitia, InSight is to drill down into the subsurface to explore a new dimension of the Red Planet.
New Scientist (11/8): Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, of Breakthrough Starshot Foundation fame, has received some NASA assistance for a possible private deep space planetary science mission to Europa, the ice and ocean covered moon of planet Jupiter that is thought to host a possible habitable environment. NASA missions to Europa have the support of U.S. Rep. John Culberson, who chairs the House appropriations committee responsible for NASA’s budget but just lost his re-election bid.
Phys.org (11/8): NASA counts a brief but productive history for the study of asteroids, comets and other small planetary objects whose scrutiny is revealing how the solar system’s sun and planets materialized and evolved over 4.5 billion years.
Space Florida (11/9): Thursday, Space Florida was notified by the FAA that it has been granted a Launch Site Operators License for the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Shuttle Landing Facility, or the former space shuttle runway at the Kennedy Space Center, opening the way to horizontal as well as vertical launch operations on Florida’s Space Coast. Potential commercial users include Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus, Vulcan Systems’ Stratolaunch, Virgin Orbit Launcher One, Virgin Galactic Spaceship 2, potential new national security programs and others. Space Florida promises a new name soon.
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