It seems NASA’s Science Mission Directorate has received a spare satellite from another unnamed federal agency that it plans to launch in the 2021 time frame. And it wants ideas on what to fly aboard it.
NASA’s request for information (RFI) is rather broad: it says the NASA Science/Technology Platform Satellite (NSTP-Sat) could be launched “to low earth orbit, geostationary equatorial orbit, medium Earth orbit, Earth–Moon L1, or lunar orbit.”
The spacecraft could be launched “on a NASA-procured launch service or on the Space Launch System Exploration Mission-2 launch vehicle as a co-manifested payload (CPL),” the RFI states.
View the RFI here. Deadline for submissions is March 17.
There has been a lot of media coverage of S. Alan Stern’s departure as head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Stern lasted less than a year on the job before abruptly resigning on Wednesday in the wake of the agency’s decision to rescind deep cuts in the popular Mars Exploration Rover program.
Because neither Stern nor NASA Administrator Mike Griffin revealed the precise reasons behind the departure, people were left speculating about a decision that has left the science community stunned.
“His departure is a shock to people,” Mark Sykes, director of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz., told Scientific American. “It means potentially a black day for science at NASA.”
NASA’s Science group has seen an abrupt turnover in its top leadership. S. Alan Stern, associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, announced his resignation on Wednesday. John Mather, the directorate’s chief scientist, is also reported to be heading back to his full-time position on the James Webb Space Telescope program.
“Alan has rendered invaluable service to NASA as the Principal Investigator for the Pluto/New Horizons mission, as a member of the NASA Advisory Council, and as the associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate,” Administrator Mike Griffin said in a statement. “While I deeply regret his decision to leave NASA, I understand his reasons for doing so, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”