February 20, 2017

Trump’s Plans to Privatize ‘Low Earth Orbit’ and Send NASA Into Deep Space (Source: Yahoo News)
In perhaps the most poetic passage from his inaugural address, President Trump said, “We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space.” So, how does Trump intend to do that?

Former Congressman Robert Walker, R-PA, who was tapped to draft Trump’s space policy during the campaign, spoke to Yahoo News about the administration’s plan to place “low Earth orbit” missions predominantly in the hands of the private sector, with exceptions for military and intelligence satellites. The government would not compete with commercial interests in this region of space; instead, NASA would concentrate on deep-space exploration with the long-term goal of having humans explore the entire solar system by the 22nd century.

“As we look toward going back to the moon, going to Mars or further, we’ll want to have space resources that would be assembled in orbit so we could make them large enough and capable enough to do real deep-space activities,” Walker said. Walker believes space policy must acknowledge that the space community is far bigger than NASA or the military and that private investors should take the opportunity to participate in achieving national goals. (2/18)

Earth Science on the Space Station Continues to Grow (Source: NASA JPL)
The number of instruments on the International Space Station dedicated to observing Earth to increase our understanding of our home planet continues to grow. Two new instruments are being carried to the ISS on the SpaceX Dragon capsule, including the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to monitor the condition of the ozone layer, and the Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) to record the time, energy output and location of lightning events around the world, day and night. (2/16)

CU Boulder Students Show NASA Their Vision of Future Space Transport (Source: Daily Camera)
Four University of Colorado juniors are back from NASA's Langley Research Center, where they competed Wednesday as finalists in that agency's BIG Idea Challenge. The competition tasked students with advancing concepts for in-space assembly of spacecraft, particularly tugs, powered by solar propulsion.

NASA's challenge to competing students was that their design enable the transfer of payloads from low-Earth orbit to an orbit around the moon, or to a lunar distant retrograde orbit. CU's group, whose project was dubbed "Odysseus," was one of five selected as finalists who made their pitch for an in-orbit assembly design of a spacecraft that can deliver cargo from low-Earth to lunar and Martian orbits. (2/19)

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