Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 17th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, plans to re-introduce legislation that would extend NASA’s oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) from 2024 to 2030. The new chair of the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, plans a deeper assessment of future NASA objectives.

Human Space Exploration

Cruz plans to try again with commercial space legislation (1/16): During remarks in Washington on Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who chairs the U.S. Senate panel that guides NASA policy, said he intends to submit legislation this year backing NASA oversight of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2030 as well as the Space Frontier Act, which seeks to reform the regulatory environment for commercial space activities. The legislation died during the previous congressional session. The White House plans to transition oversight of the Space Station from NASA to the commercial sector by 2025, as part of a plan to refocus NASA’s human exploration on deep space.

New House Science chair seeks more oversight of NASA projects

Politico (1/16): U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, of Texas, will chair the U.S. House Science, Space and Technology Committee, the panel that sets legislative policy for NASA. Johnson is pledging more a more in depth discussion of NASA objectives. “We’ve got to get beyond just the leadership,” the Dallas area lawmaker told Politico.


Space Science

Lunar nighttime brings end to Chang’e-4 biosphere experiment and cotton sprouts

GB Times of Finland (1/16): The biosphere experiment aboard China’s Chang’e 4 lander, which became the first spacecraft to successfully touchdown on the Moon’s far side on January 3, suffered a setback as the cotton plants that germinated from seeds after the landing have died, apparently due to the extreme cold temperatures. The fate of the potato and mustard seeds, Arabidopsis, fruit fly eggs and yeast are unclear.

Scientists question popular planet formation theory

Sky and Telescope (1/16): The discoveries of planets well beyond the solar system are beginning to challenge prevailing theories of how planets formed, according to scientists gathered in Seattle for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) last week.


Other News

In a blow to Los Angeles, SpaceX is moving some Mars spaceship and booster work to Texas

Los Angeles Times (1/16): SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has announced plans to move production of future rocket development, including the Starship upper stage for its reusable Super Heavy rocket from Los Angeles area to South Texas. The plan is to part of an effort to streamline company operations.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is still at work, for now (1/16): So far, the U.S. partial government shutdown that commenced on December 22 has not affected operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managed by Cal Tech. However, that may change on a mission by mission basis if the shutdown has not come been resulted by the end of January.

“Super blood wolf Moon” will light up the night sky this Sunday

CBS News (1/16): More on the spectacular lunar eclipse coming late Sunday and visible across the U.S. and Europe. The event will unfold while the Moon is closest to Earth.

The prototype for the Starship has been assembled, hop tests could be happening soon

Universe Today (1/16): The prototype for SpaceX’s Starship and its follow-ons will be ready for “short hop” flight tests from south Texas as soon as the Spring.

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