NASA’s flying Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has struggled to meet its scientific expectations due to a lengthy development delay and a series of technical, operational and managerial challenges, according to a new audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (IG).
Tne failures of three aging satellites the United States relies upon to forecast space weather could leave the nation partially blind to electromagnetic storms that could severely disrupt electrical grids, communications systems, aviation and Global Positioning System (GPS) dependent navigation.
“The observations that we rely on to provide alerts and warnings are critical. Should we lose some of the key spacecraft that we talk about, I won’t say we’re blind but we’re darn close. It will impact our ability to support this nation’s need for space weather services. And I don’t want to see that happen,” said William Murtagh, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
NASA would launch the first element of a human-tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022 under a proposed exploration plan that would make use of commercial and international partnerships.
A power and propulsion module would be followed soon afterward by habitation, airlock, and logistics modules. The gateway would serve as a base for astronauts to explore the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 lifted off from the surface in 1972.
Politicoreports the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next NASA administrator might be doomed when the full Senate votes on it.
“I know that at this point they do not have the votes,” he said. “This is the last thing in the world that NASA needs. NASA has never had a partisan politician. It needs a space professional as its leader.” Marco Rubio hasn’t taken an official on the nomination, but has criticized Bridenstine’s selection.
Bridenstine had a rough confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee where Nelson is the ranking member. Democrats criticized his positions on climate change and social issues. They also expressed concerns over his lack of an engineering or science background and inexperience in running large organizations.
Republicans defended Bridenstine, saying he had the knowledge and experience to run the space agency. Republicans control the Senate 51-49. Mike Pence can break 50-50 ties.
NASA has been without an appointed administrator since the Obama Administration ended on Jan. 20, 2017. Robert Lightfoot has been serving as acting administrator until the Senate approves a replacement.
The Trump Administration had yet to nominate anyone for the position of NASA deputy administrator, a position that also requires Senate approval.
Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week was long on rhetoric and short on details, but a few themes and priorities have already emerged in the Trump Administration’s slowly evolving approach to the nation’s civilian space program.
NASA Will Lead Again
In a speech in which he repeatedly praised President Donald Trump, Pence used some variation of the word “lead” a total of 33 times (“leadership” 18 times, “leader(s)” eight times, “lead” six times and “leading” once). (more…)
Product of the Interagency Working Group for Detecting and Mitigating the Impact of Earth-bound Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) (Damien) of the National Science and Technology Council
The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy (Strategy) and the forthcoming National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to improve our Nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking. The Strategy and Action Plan build on efforts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to better detect and characterize the NEO population as well as recent efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for and respond to a NEO impact. Together, they aim to foster a collaborative effort in which the Nation can better understand, prevent, and prepare for the effects of a NEO impact. The Nation must continue to leverage existing networks of expertise and capabilities, both public and private, and pursue targeted enhancements to improve the ability to manage the risks associated with NEOs.
The wonders of NASA 2014 Mars rovers, astronaut Instagram feeds, audacious missions probing distant galactic mysteries 2014 have long enthralled the American public. And, it turns out, the accomplishments have won the agency the public’s trust: Polls have consistently shown NASA to be the second-most trusted government institution, behind only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The public, however, probably has less appreciation for the work NASA has done on its home planet. NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — A new report provides expert findings from a special action team on how elements of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) can address decadal science objectives and help close Strategic Knowledge Gaps (SKGs) for future human missions in deep space.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is a leading candidate to replace Charlie Bolden as the new NASA Administrator when President Barack Obama’s term ends in January.
“He’s made it clear to the campaign that if asked to serve as NASA Administrator or Air Force secretary, he would be willing,” the official said. The person added that there would likely be “a clearer path to NASA” than the Air Force.
Other names that have been circulated include: former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, who served under President George W. Bush; former astronaut Collins, who spoke during the Republican National Convention in support of Trump; and space veteran Mark Albrecht, who served as executive secretary of the National Space Council under President George H.W. Bush.
New Space Technology Research Institutes will help NASA develop game changing new materials and bio-manufacturing methods needed for the Journey to Mars
by Thomas Kalil & Lloyd Whitman White House OSTP
In his 2015 State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs—converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kids again. Pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay.”
And NASA is leading the way for this push with plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s. Recently, NASA announced that they plan to dedicate up to $30 million over the next five years to support university-led research institutes to more rapidly develop two game changing capabilities needed to make this happen: ultra-high strength, lightweight materials and bio-manufacturing for deep space exploration.
The House Appropriations Committee is marking up a FY 2017 spending bill today that would boost NASA’s spending by $215 million to $19.5 billion dollars. The amount is roughly $500 million more than the $19 billion requested by the Obama Administration.
Appropriators have zeroed out money for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), instead instructing the space agency to focus on lumar missions applicable to sending astronauts to Mars.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) proposed American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) would bring about significant changes in the nation’s commercial space policy, with a much larger role for the Department of Transportation and a revamping of activities within the Commerce Department.
PASADENA, Calif., February 11, 2016 (Planetary Society PR) — In response to U.S. President Obama’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Request, The Planetary Society issued the following statements from Bill Nye, CEO, and Casey Dreier, director of space policy:
“The President’s recent budget request is catching up with recent congressional actions in support of NASA. It’s especially good to see the increases for space science. But we can do more. The nation asks so much of NASA, and NASA delivers. NASA is maintaining operations aboard the space station, while it’s actively exploring the Solar System and distant reaches of the cosmos—all while planning missions to send humans to Mars. The Planetary Society urges Congress to continue their support of NASA in 2017 by allowing its budget to increase above inflation. The world is in love with space exploration, and NASA is the best brand the United States has. With the right resources, NASA can lead the way deeper into space.”
– Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society
“While it is satisfying to see the White House increase its request for NASA’s Planetary Science Division to $1.52 billion, it still represents a cut to the program’s current funding level. The Planetary Society believes that all of NASA’s space science divisions deserve support, even Planetary Science, which has now experienced five proposed budget cuts in five years. After the stunning successes of last year’s Pluto flyby, the exploration of Ceres, and the confirmation of flowing water on Mars, the nation should not back away from planetary exploration now.
“We urge Congress to continue their trend of enacting NASA budgets above the President’s request. Using the FY 2016 congressional budget as a baseline going forward would help sustain NASA as the world leader in human spaceflight, robotic exploration, space science, aeronautics, and fundamental scientific research.”
– Casey Dreier, director of space policy, The Planetary Society
NASA’s budget advances the Nation’s space exploration plan and ensures our nation remains the world’s leader in space exploration and technology, aeronautics research and discovery in space and Earth science. The budget supports developing the technologies that will make future space missions more capable and affordable, partnering with the private sector to transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station, continuing the development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems that will one day send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. The budget also keeps the Webb Telescope on track for a 2018; builds on our scientific discoveries and achievements in space; and supports the Administration’s commitment to serve as a catalyst for the growth of a vibrant American commercial space industry.