SpaceX and NASA have confirmed that an “anomaly” occurred yesterday during a static fire test of the SuperDraco engines on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Crew Dragon spacecraft has eight SuperDraco engines that are used for its abort system in case of an emergency during launch or ascent to orbit. SpaceX is readying for an in-flight abort test as part of its preparations for commercial crew flights to the International Space Station (ISS).
Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the week of April 21-27, 2019 and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess this week, except for pro forma sessions. They return for legislative business next week.
Margaret Kivelson is the new chair of the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She succeeds Fiona Harrison who stepped down in order to co-chair the ongoing Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Harrison was the first woman to chair SSB in its 61-year history. Now Kivelson is the second.
NASA released crew assignments for the International Space Station (ISS) through spring 2020 today. Notable by their absence are flights by the two U.S. commercial crew companies, SpaceX and Boeing. NASA had hoped that U.S. launches of ISS crews would begin this year. Instead, U.S. crew members will be staying for longer periods of time, including what will be a record-breaking mission by Christina Koch. She will remain for almost 11 months, returning in February 2020 instead of this fall.
The Science and Technology Policy Institute’s (STPI’s) independent analysis of the possibility of sending humans to Mars in 2033 concludes that it is “infeasible under all budget scenarios and technology development and testing schedules.” It might be possible for such a mission to depart Earth in 2037, but 2039 is more realistic, the report says. “Mars 2033” became a rallying cry for some human spaceflight enthusiasts during the Obama Administration and although NASA’s plans have changed quite a bit since then, a sizable Mars-or-bust community remains.
Here are SpacePolicyOnline.com’s tidbits for April 15, 2019: Beresheet 2 already in the works; Falcon Heavy core stage tips over; Apollo 11’s Mike Collins wants “JFK Direct” to Mars; Skylab and shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott passes away. Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.
Here is SpacePolicyOnline.com’s list of space policy events for the next TWO weeks, April 14-27, 2019, and any insight we can offer about them. The House and Senate are in recess until April 29, except for pro forma sessions.
Almost two dozen members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) quizzed four top military and civilian Pentagon leaders for more than two hours today about why a Space Force is needed and how much it will cost. In the end, there was no consensus from either Republicans or Democrats. Most seem to remain unconvinced that it will add value instead of just more bureaucracy, but are open to further discussions.
The Israeli Beresheet lunar lander failed to make a soft landing on the Moon today, but the effort, led by Israeli non-profit SpaceIL, is being widely hailed nonetheless. Although it did not win the $20 million Google Lunar X-Prize, the X-Prize Foundation decided to award the SpaceIL team $1 million anyway in recognition of reaching lunar orbit. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin were among those praising SpaceIL and encouraging them to keep trying.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said today that NASA is dividing its human lunar exploration program into two phases. Phase 1, to be completed by 2024 as directed by the White House, will focus on getting astronauts to the lunar surface fast. Phase 2, by 2028, will focus on making the program sustainable. The plan itself remains the same as before, but the Administration will request funding to accelerate it by 4 years.
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