July 23, 2017

What NASA Could Do with US Military's Budget (Source: Business Insider)
The US spends more on space exploration than any other country in the world. A big chunk of this investment goes to NASA, the country's leading agency for space exploration. But that’s still a pittance compared to the overall US Federal budget. Since NASA landed the first man on the Moon in 1969, its budget has plummeted from 4.5% of  the Federal budget to less than 0.5%.

But what if NASA’s budget hadn’t shrunk? What if, instead, its funding was comparable to the US military’s? How close would we be to actually colonizing Mars or visiting another star system? It’s impossible to know for sure, but here’s a look at how NASA’s budget compared to the US military’s in 2016. Click here. (7/7)

NanoRacks Airlock Moving Toward 2019 Installation on the ISS (Source: SpaceFlight Now)
Five months ago,  NanoRacks, LLC announced it would partner with Boeing to build the first private airlock for the International Space Station. That initiative is progressing and recently achieved a design milestone with the successful test of a NASA-built, full-scale mockup at the Johnson Space Center in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL).

Recent tests involving the airlock confirmed that spacewalking astronauts will be able to successfully maneuver around the structure and mounted external payloads. Astronauts will be able to do this with the assistance of handrails, which will be strategically placed by the NanoRacks design team. NanoRacks’ airlock will be the solution to the constraints associated with the station’s only airlock system used for deploying CubeSats and other items into space.

That current airlock, located on the Japanese Kibo module, can only be opened 10 times per year, with only five of those allocated to NASA and commercial companies. The other five go to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, which owns the airlock. Demand by both NASA and commercial companies now far exceeds that capacity. The NanoRacks airlock, to be located on the port side of the Tranquility module, will measure roughly 6.6 feet (2 meters) in diameter and 5.9 feet (1.8 meters) long. It will be much larger than the existing Japanese airlock. (7/21)

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