Deep Space Optical Communications

A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)
A NASA JPL artist imagines a group of satellites around Mars providing navigation and communication for robots and humans down on the Red Planet, while a larger spacecraft ensures the Mars-Earth connection. (Credit: NASA)

By Denise M. Stefula

In May 2016, the Game Changing Development Program’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) project completed TRL 6 milestone testing on its key deliverable, an integrated deep-space flight laser transmitter assembly. Proposed on several Discovery missions, the technology undergoes a transition review in June and is expected to advance to NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program.

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House Passes NASA Budget as Obama Administration Threatens Veto

Capitol Building
The House of Representatives passed the FY2016 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill (H.R. 2578) on June 3, 2015. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, which includes funding for NASA and NOAA.

The highlights involving NASA’s budget include:

  • $3.4 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and related ground systems, an increase of $546 million over the President’s request;
  • $1 billion for Commercial Crew, a reduction of $243.8 million from the request;
  • $625 million for space technology, a reduction of $100 million.
  • $1.56 billion for planetary exploration, an increase of $196 million;
  • $1.68 billion for Earth science, a reduction of $264 million;
  • $140 million to begin work on the Jupiter Europa Clipper mission;
  • $19 million to maintain operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $13.7 million for the Mars Opportunity Rover;
  • a requirement to use the Space Launch System for the Jupiter Europa mission; and,
  • a stipulation that $25 million of the space technology budget “shall be for icy satellites surface technology and test beds.”

The table below has the full details. (more…)

House Appropriations Committee Releases NASA Budget Figures

Capitol Building
The House Appropriations Committee has released updated numbers for the NASA FY 2016 budget. The highlights include:

  • $3.4 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and related ground systems, an increase of $546 million over the President’s request;
  • $1 billion for Commercial Crew, a reduction of $243 million from the request;
  • $625 million for space technology, a reduction of $100 million.
  • $1.56 billion for planetary exploration, an increase of $196 million;
  • $1.68 billion for Earth science, a reduction of $264 million;
  • $140 million to begin work on the Jupiter Europa clipper;
  • $19 million to maintain operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $13.7 million for the Mars Opportunity Rover.

The table below has the full details.

NASA FY 2016 BUDGET
(In Millions of Dollars)
PROGRAMADMINISTRATION REQUEST
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
DIFFERENCE
Science$5,288.6$5,237.5-$51.1
Earth Science
$1,947.3$1,682.9-$264.2
Planetary Sciences$1,361.2 $1,557.0 $195.8
Astrophysics$709.1 $735.6 $26.5
James Webb Space Telescope
$620.0 $620.0 $0.0
Heliophysics$651.0$642.0 -$9.0
Jupiter Europa Clipper$30.0$140.0 $110.0
Space Exploration$4,505.9$4,759.3$253.4
Exploration Systems Development
$2,862.9$3,409.3$546.4
Space Launch System
$1,356.5$1,850.0$493.5
Orion
$1,096.3$1,096.3$0.0
Exploration Ground Systems
$410.1 $410.0-$0.1
Program Integration
$53.0$53.0
Commercial Spaceflight$1,243.8$1,000.0-$243.0
Research & Development$399.2$350.0-$49.2
Space Operations$4,003.7$3,957.3
-$46.4
International Space Station$3,106.6$3,075.6-$31.0
Space & Flight Support
$898.1$881.7-$16.4
Space Technology$724.8$625.0
-$99.8
Aeronautics$571.4$600.0
$28.6
Education$88.9$119.0
$30.1
Safety, Security and Mission Services$2,843.1$2,768.6
-$74.5
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration$465.3$425.0
-$40.3
Inspector General$37.4$37.4
$0.0
TOTALS:$18,529.1$18,529.1$0.0