Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 22nd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Congress and the White House will try again this week to end an impasse over a budget agreement that has led to a partial government shutdown, including NASA and NOAA, and affected the paychecks of 800,000 workers.  The U.S. astronomy and astrophysics community is ready to rank its science priorities for at least the next 10 years.

Human Space Exploration

House will try again next week to reopen NASA, NOAA, with vote on conference version of CJS bill (1/18): The U.S. House is expected to vote on appropriation measures for NASA and NOAA this week for the 2019 fiscal year that began October 1, 2018. Failures between the White House and Congress to reach agreements on immigration policy prompted the record partial federal government shutdown affecting much more than the two agencies that began December 22. The legislation would fund NASA at $21.5 billion, up from the $19.9 billion proposed by the White House. While development of the delayed James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) would continue, House language cautions NASA not to surpass the current $8.8 billion cost estimate, which is $800 million more than was authorized in 2011.


Space Science

U.S. astronomers ponder science priorities for the 2020s and beyond

Scientific American (1/20): In a planning exercise called the Decadel Survey, the U.S. astronomy and astrophysics community is ready to rank its science priorities for at least the next 10 years, a topic at the recent American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle. The surveys help to influence legislative priorities and often guide those of NASA. Seeking evidence for life on Earth-like planetary bodies is likely to rank high among the latest survey’s priorities. Cost and technical difficulties with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), however, could affect the priority setting.

‘Super blood wolf Moon’: the best images as total lunar eclipse wows skygazers (1/21): Stargazers were out in force across the world on Monday to try and catch a glimpse of a total lunar eclipse. Although it is a total eclipse, the Moon will never go completely dark but rather take on a coppery red glow, a blood Moon. It is also a full Moon that is especially close to Earth, called a superMoon.

Astronomers aren’t pleased about a Russian plan to put billboards in space

Universe Today (1/17): SmartRocket, of Russia, proposes to use small satellite technologies to launch bill board like satellites into 280 mile high orbits that will render them visible on clear nights for about a year at a time. In addition to advertising, the orbiting billboards could be used for entertainment or to extend information in emergencies. The pro astronomy Dark Sky Association has expressed its opposition.


Other News 

NROL-71 kicks off ULA’s 2019 launch manifest

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance (1/19): A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket successfully launched a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload, NROL-71, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Saturday. The launch date, originally September 26, had been delayed several times.

Stratolaunch space venture sharply scales back its operations, months after Paul Allen’s death

Coalition Member in the News – Northrop Grumman (1/18): Stratolaunch, the airborne launch services company founded by Paul Allen, has ended plans to develop its own small rocket launcher for the company’s large twin fuselage airplane. Instead, it is turning to Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus XL rocket to place payloads in orbit.

Long March 11 rocket launches four Chinese satellites for hyperspectral imaging and deorbit tests

GB Times of Finland (1/21): A Chinese Long March 11 rocket lifted four satellites to orbit on Monday. Two hyperspectral satellites have forestry and marine applications. The payload also includes technology test and remote sensing satellites.


Major Space Related Activities for the Week 

Major space related activities for the week of January 20-26, 2019 (1/20): The week began with a U.S. federal holiday and tribute to Martin Luther King. When the House and Senate convene, they are expected to continue efforts to fund agencies, including NASA and NOAA, whose work forces are largely furloughed during a shutdown that began December 22. An estimated 800,000 workers are affected.

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