Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 9th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s chief heartened by U.S. House and Senate passage of an authorization measure backing the agency’s human space exploration goals.

Human Deep Space Exploration

Lightfoot seeks stability at NASA despite budget uncertainty

Space News (3/9): Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot welcomed U.S. House passage of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 earlier this week, matching action taken by the Senate two and a half weeks ago. The measure, now headed to the White House for the president’s signature, endorses NASA’s human deep space exploration plans among other initiatives. “For me, the overall theme of that document is constancy of purpose. It says, `Keep going with what your plan is and keep moving,”’ Lightfoot told the Goddard Memorial Symposium on Wednesday.

Report: China developing advanced lunar mission spaceship

Associated Press via ABC News (3/9): China offers sketchy plans for an Orion-like spacecraft capable of transporting humans to the moon as well as Earth orbit.


Space Science

Discovery of Earth’s oldest fossils could spur the search for life on other planets

Seeker via (3/7): Scientists have dated fossilized evidence of early life on Earth to between 3.8 and 4.3 billion years ago, much earlier than previous estimates. The findings, published in the journal Nature, may have implications for the search for life on distant alien planets.

Our universe’s very dusty early, early beginnings

New York Times (3/8): Using a powerful telescope, astronomers detect surprising evidence for dust, or elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, in the very early universe. The observation made with a radio telescope in Chile was at A2744_YD4, a galaxy estimated to be 30 billion light years from Earth.

A recharged debate over the speed of the expansion of the universe could lead to new physics

Science (3/8): The Hubble constant, named for famed astronomer Edwin Hubble, is a measure of the expansion rate for the universe. Even the latest calculations premised on the latest technologies are a topic of debate.

Saturn moon Enceladus’ varied landscape dazzles in new photo (3/8): Cassini, the NASA-led international robotic mission at Saturn, has returned spectacular new photos of Enceladus, the geologically active moon. Enceladus hosts a liquid ocean beneath an icy shell.

3-D printing saving satellite builder’s time and money 

Space News (3/8): Satellite manufacturers have pivoted quickly to 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, to improve the cost effectiveness of their production processes.


Commercial to Low Earth Orbit

House lawmakers debate how rigorously to regulate activities in space

USA Today (3/9): In Washington, members of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee pondered the regulation of space activities under the guidelines afforded by the 50-year-old Outer Space Treaty.

Jeff Bezos adds OneWeb satellite venture to Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch manifest

Geekwire (3/8): Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos announced Wednesday the Seattle-area business has lined up its second customer for the New Glenn rocket, OneWebb. OneWebb plans to establish a global communications network to support broadband access.

Satellite builders unsure what Trump will mean for their business

Space News (3/8): Presentations at Satellite 2017, a conference and exposition this week in Washington, suggest much remains to be worked out before domestic satellite manufacturers understand how possible changes in U.S. space policy and defense spending will impact their operations.



Bezos: Space tourism is going to be great ‘practice’ for space colonies

Inverse (3/7): Frequent launches of Blue Origin’s New Shepherd suborbital passenger rocket will prepare the aerospace industry for increasingly more ambitious space travel, the company’s founder Jeff Bezos tells the 2017 Satellite Conference and Exhibition in Washington.


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