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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