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.
LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — Could the next flyby target for NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft actually be two targets?
New Horizons scientists look to answer that question as they sort through new data gathered on the distant Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69, which the spacecraft will fly past on Jan. 1, 2019. That flyby will be the most distant in the history of space exploration, a billion miles beyond Pluto.
The sharp eye of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has captured the tiny moon Phobos during its orbital trek around Mars. Because the moon is so small, it appears star-like in the Hubble pictures.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Over the course of 22 minutes, Hubble took 13 separate exposures, allowing astronomers to create a time-lapse video showing the diminutive moon’s orbital path. The Hubble observations were intended to photograph Mars, and the moon’s cameo appearance was a bonus.
Video Caption: The Hubble Space Telescope has captured even more evidence of water vapor plumes on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The probable plumes appear to be repeating in the same location and correspond with a relatively warm region on Europa’s surface observed by the Galileo spacecraft.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.
In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and Hubble researchers report additional evidence of plumes erupting from Jupiter’s moon Europa.
“This is the closest we’ve come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. ”These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA’s science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not.”
NASA will discuss new results about ocean worlds in our solar system from the agency’s Cassini spacecraft and the Hubble Space Telescope during a news briefing 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 13. The event, to be held at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters in Washington, will include remote participation from experts across the country.
The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Sierra Nevada Corporation has put forth a proposal to send a crewed Dream Chaser to service the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
The discussions are still preliminary, no specific plans have been drafted and senior White House aides or administration advisers currently overseeing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration could veto the concept. Decisions about any potentially major NASA initiative await the appointment of a new agency head, according to industry and government officials.
But deliberations about sending a spacecraft to link up with NASA’s pioneering orbiting telescope—comparable to five earlier missions by the now-retired space shuttle fleet stretching back to 1993—illustrate the Trump team’s guiding principles when it comes to space investments. Industry and transition officials agree the focus is on seeking dramatic but relatively inexpensive space projects that can be readily understood by average Americans.
The Hubble repair proposal also has garnered administration officials’ attention because it appears to meet still other important White House criteria, according to these people. The goal is to put a lid on federal expenditures for space by fostering public-private partnerships, while devising projects that can be completed within the president’s current four-year term….
Sierra Nevada is betting that the Trump administration’s enhanced interest in commercial space projects—including transition memos extolling the potential benefits of manned missions orbiting the moon—could revive Hubble’s rejuvenation bid. The company twice presented its proposal to transition officials, according to one person familiar with the details.
Sierra Nevada is currently developing a cargo variant of Dream Chaser to resupply the International Space Station. That vehicle is not scheduled to begin deliveries to the space station until 2019.
It’s not clear how much work, funding or additional testing would be required to upgrade the cargo ship for crew use. Nor is it clear whether a mission to Hubble could be completed in time for Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020.
The company did make substantial progress toward a crew vehicle during NASA’s Commercial Crew Program before Dream Chaser was dropped from the program in 2014.
The two selected commercial crew companies, Boeing and SpaceX, have run into significant technical problems during the final phase of commercial crew development and testing. Both companies are running significantly behind schedule.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa. This finding bolsters other Hubble observations suggesting the icy moon erupts with high altitude water vapor plumes.
The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa’s ocean without having to drill through miles of ice.
“IMAX: Hubble 3D” debuts at the Air and Space Museum…we give it the “red carpet” treatment – checking out the movie, checking in with the astronaut stars, listening to the star who voiced it over – Leonardo DiCaprio, and weighing in with the director and the NASA brass about the wow-factor of the IMAX experience. Also: a Falcon 9 “hot fire” disappoints, the shuttle program manager says “no problem” for shuttle to keep flying, and safely — it’s only a question of money — and Obama gets ready to speak up for his controversial new plan for NASA…and braces for what promises to be a firestorm of protest at planned April 15 conference on the future of America’s space program.
David Leckone, one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s senior scientists, bemoaned the planned retirement of the space shuttle next year, criticizing NASA’s for a lack of leadership and vision in producing an Orion replacement vehicle based on the old Apollo capsule.
The STS-125 crew bid a final farewell to the Hubble Space Telescope today. With servicing completed, the telescope was released from the shuttleâ€™s robotic arm at 8:57 a.m. EDT.
Mission Specialist Megan McArthur released the grapple fixture as Commander Scott Altman and Pilot Gregory C. Johnson guided Atlantis carefully away. Subtle thruster firings will place the shuttle a safe distance from Hubble.
Later in the day, attention will turn to surveys of Atlantisâ€™ thermal protection system, including its wing leading edge panels, nose cap and underside tiles. Imagery experts will evaluate the data to determine the health of the thermal protection system.
STS-125 mission specialists John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel completed the fifth and final spacewalk on the Hubble Space Telescope Monday at 3:22 p.m. EDT. Outside the airlock hatch, Grunsfeld said, “This is a really tremendous adventure that weâ€™ve been on, a very challenging mission. Hubble isnâ€™t just a satellite- itâ€™s about humanityâ€™s quest for knowledge.”
STS-125 mission specialists Mike Massimino and Mike Good completed the missionâ€™s fourth spacewalk today at 5:47 p.m. EDT. The spacewalkers continued repairs and improvements to the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) that will extend the Hubbleâ€™s life into the next decade. The spacewalk lasted 8 hours, 2 minutes.