Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 19th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA and its missions appear largely in sync with Trump White House and a Republican Congress.

Human Deep Space Exploration

A Republican favorite, NASA escapes Trump’s budget ax

Roll Call/ (4/18): NASA, a national engine for economic growth and innovation, has fared well in President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1. The $19.1 billion proposed for NASA, represents a less than one percent reduction, much less than proposed reductions for other federal agencies. Supporters are optimistic about how the appropriations process will unfold, given bipartisan support for the agency’s missions in states like Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and California.

NASA set an ignominious record last week but don’t blame the space agency

Ars Technica (4/18): The U.S. has eclipsed its own record for suspended human space flight launches, the gap between the 1975 launch of the Apollo-Soyuz mission and the first space shuttle mission in 1981. The latest chasm began with the July 2011 landing of the final shuttle flight. On Tuesday, the U.S. surpassed the previous 2,089 day gap. Currently, the U.S. is looking to once again launch its own astronauts aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s crewed Dragon by 2019, perhaps 2018.


Space Science

Slooh Observatory revamps website to welcome more sky watchers (4/18): offers virtual sky watchers new viewing opportunities through its robotic telescopes in the Canary Islands and Chile. Changes are intended to improve the experience for amateur as well as professional astronomers.


Low Earth Orbit

Atlas V rocket launches private Cygnus cargo ship to Space Station (4/18): Orbital ATK’s seventh NASA contracted cargo mission to the International Space Station lifted off successfully early April 18 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The Cygnus space freighter, named in honor of John Glenn, the late Mercury astronaut and U.S. senator from Ohio, is on course to reach the Space Station early Saturday.

Orbital ATK awaits NASA decision on future use of Atlas for Cygnus missions

Space News (4/18): NASA is deliberating on whether Orbital ATK will be asked to use the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket for future NASA contracted Orbital cargo missions to the International Space Station with Cape Canaveral Air Force station, Florida as the launch site. In the meantime, Orbital plans to resume use of the company’s own Antares rocket and NASA’s Wallops Island Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore for Space Station cargo deliveries during the remainder of this year.

Astronaut Suni Williams meets with McAuliffe students

USA Today (4/18): NASA astronaut Suni Williams, former commander of the International Space Station and a long distance runner, addressed elementary school students in Wisconsin. Her message was down to Earth, stressing physical health and fitness.

Op-ed | Winning the battle in space with a hand from DARPA’s satellite-servicing robot 

Space News (4/18): In an op-ed, Mike Griffin, a former NASA administrator and the current chairman of Schafer Aerospace, argues in favor of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed robot satellite servicing capability to serve U.S. national security interests. Griffin cites recent post launch satellite difficulties that might have been remedied with such a capability. The concept has been challenged by companies that plan a commercial satellite servicing capability, though perhaps one not as sophisticated as DARPA’s.

NASA to build better salads in space on latest mission

Orlando Sentinel (4/18): Science experiments in route to the International Space Station aboard Orbital ATK’s seventh NASA contracted re-supply mission include a new high tech space greenhouse. Goals of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat include developing a source of nutrition for future human deep space explorers as well as a natural means of recycling breathing air and drinking water.


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