House Appropriations Committee Rejects NASA Budget Hike, 2024 Moon Landing Goal

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House Appropriations Committee has criticized the Trump Administration’s “ominous shift away” from legacy NASA programs in favor of a “politically motivated timeline” aimed at returning astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024 under the Artemis program.

“NASA’s fiscal year 2021 request, much like the 2020 amended budget request, reflected the Administration’s ominous shift away from legacy programs and programs with clear environmental and educational benefits,” the committee in a report on its funding bill.

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GAO: NASA Performance on Major Projects Continues to Deteriorate

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest assessment of NASA’s major projects at the end of April. It found that NASA’s performance on its major projects continued to deteriorate on cost and schedule. (Full Report)

Below are key excerpts from the report that provide an overview of where NASA stands on its major projects. Although GAO did not analyze the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, the watchdog warned the Trump Administration’s decision to move the landing date up from 2028 to 2024 will put more pressure on the space agency.

“Looking ahead, NASA will continue to face significant cost and schedule risks as it undertakes complex efforts to return to the moon under an aggressive time frame,” the report stated.

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SpaceX Wins Launch Contract for NASA PACE Mission

Falcon 9 launch with fourth batch of Starlink satellites. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission.

The total cost for NASA to launch PACE is approximately $80.4 million, which includes the launch service and other mission related costs. The PACE mission currently is targeted to launch in December 2022 on a Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The PACE mission represents the nation’s next great investment in understanding and protecting our home planet. The mission will provide global ocean color, cloud, and aerosol data that will provide unprecedented insights into oceanographic and atmospheric responses to Earth’s changing climate. 

PACE will help scientists investigate the diversity of organisms fueling marine food webs and the U.S. economy, and deliver advanced data products to reduce uncertainties in global climate models and improve our interdisciplinary understanding of the Earth system.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida will manage the SpaceX launch service. The PACE mission is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science programs, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/earth

Disruption Tolerant Networking to Demonstrate Internet in Space

NASA’s new Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem, or PACE, mission will be the first space mission to use a new communication technology. From left to right are the engineers helping to build the mission: Nga Cao, Steve Feng, Wei Lu, Chris Zincke, and Zoran Kahric. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Science Mission Directorates are collaborating to make interplanetary internet a reality.

They’re about to demonstrate Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking, or DTN – a technology that sends information much the same way as conventional internet does. Information is put into DTN bundles, which are sent through space and ground networks to its destination.

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A Closer Look at NASA’s FY 2018 Budget


by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite a last minute threat of a veto, President Donald Trump signed an $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill on Friday that boosts NASA spending by about $1.1 billion to $20.7 billion.

So, with the fiscal year nearly half over, let’s take a closer look at NASA’s FY 2018 budget, which the Administration had tried to cut. The table below lays out the numbers from the omnibus bill, the Administration’s request and the FY 2017 budget.

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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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NASA Team Demonstrates Loading of Swedish ‘Green’ Propellant

A Goddard team, led by engineer Henry Mulkey (middle), prepares a tank containing a Swedish-developed green propellant before its simulated loading at the Wallops Flight Facility late last year. Kyle Bentley (squatting) and Joe Miller (standing to the right of Mulkey) assisted in the demonstration. (Credits: NASA/C. Perry)
A Goddard team, led by engineer Henry Mulkey (middle), prepares a tank containing a Swedish-developed green propellant before its simulated loading at the Wallops Flight Facility late last year. Kyle Bentley (squatting) and Joe Miller (standing to the right of Mulkey) assisted in the demonstration. (Credits: NASA/C. Perry)

WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (NASA PR) — A NASA team has successfully demonstrated the handling and loading of a new-fangled, Swedish-developed “green propellant” that smells like glass cleaner, looks like chardonnay, but has proven powerful enough to propel a satellite.

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