NASA chief alienates Senators needed to fund the Moon program - Ars Technica - Canadanewsmedia
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NASA chief alienates Senators needed to fund the Moon program – Ars Technica



Enlarge / NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks in front of a large hydrogen tank Friday at Marshall Space Flight Center.

When Jim Bridenstine became administrator of NASA 16 months ago, critics questioned his willingness to defend NASA’s climate science portfolio and his ability to move beyond the partisan politics that characterized his nearly three terms as a Republican from Oklahoma. Since that time, Bridenstine has largely answered those questions. He has stood up for science and sought to work across the aisle.

However, Bridenstine has stumbled where most thought he would succeed—selling and communicating NASA’s programs to Congress. In particular, the administrator appears to have angered some key Republican legislators who will be needed to support increasing funding for the agency’s Moon plans.

Angering Shelby

For example, in March 2019, Bridenstine revealed at a Congressional hearing that NASA was looking at using commercial rockets to launch an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the Moon. This represented a bold move, as Congress has demanded that NASA build the large Space Launch System rocket, at great cost, to serve as Orion’s launch vehicle.

After this hearing, the chief Congressional champion of this SLS rocket, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, was irate. Shelby chairs the Senate committee that writes NASA’s budget. Multiple sources have told Ars that he excoriated Bridenstine, in private, after the administrator’s public comments. Shelby was upset both at the potential side-lining of the SLS vehicle, as well as the fact that no one from NASA had bothered to tell him about Bridenstine’s remarks in advance. Since that time, Bridenstine has been much more deferential to the SLS rocket.

This week, Bridenstine toured progress on construction of the SLS rocket’s core stage at a NASA facility in Southern Louisiana, and then visited the agency’s field center in Shelby’s home state, Alabama. He was to speak at an “all-hands” meeting at Marshall Space Flight Center and also, according to a NASA news release, make an announcement about the Lunar Lander for the agency’s Artemis Program to land humans on the Moon by 2024.

As Ars reported, this announcement would entail handing the Alabama center leadership of the lander program as well as oversight of its “transfer” and “descent” elements. Houston-based Johnson Space Center, which managed the lunar lander during the Apollo Program and historically has designed human spacecraft for NASA, would lead development of the “ascent” part of the lander and report to Marshall.

Again, it appears that neither Bridenstine nor his staff bothered to tell the US Senators from Texas—Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz—about this decision. “Neither the senator nor his staff received advanced notice,” a spokesperson for Sen. Cruz told Ars.

The advance news report of Bridenstine’s announcement prompted Cornyn, Cruz, and the US Representative whose district includes Johnson Space Center, Republican Brian Babin, to write a letter to Bridenstine on Thursday. Citing the report in Ars, the legislators wrote, “This is very troubling if accurate.” Noting Johnson Space Center’s past development of human space vehicles, they wrote, “We are deeply concerned that NASA is not only disregarding this history but that splitting up the work on the lander between two different geographic locations is an unnecessary and a counterproductive departure from the unquestionable success of the previous lunar lander program.”

Pressing ahead

Although the Texas lawmakers asked Bridenstine to delay his announcement, the administrator pressed on Friday regardless. During an event at Marshall, standing in front of an SLS liquid hydrogen fuel tank, Bridenstine announced the division of work between the Marshall and Johnson centers. “This is not a decision that was made lightly,” he said.

According to NASA’s news release, Babin had been scheduled to appear at the event alongside several Alabama lawmakers. However, Babin decided not to attend. “I am disappointed by the decision from NASA to not place the lunar lander program management at the Johnson Space Center,” he later said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Cruz, too, said it made no sense from a technical standpoint to break apart management of the Lunar Lander across two field centers. “Sen. Cruz has significant concerns about the division of responsibilities for the lander,” the spokesperson said.

In response to these concerns, Bridenstine attempted to smooth things over at Friday’s event. “NASA has a very different look today than it did in the 1960s,” he said. “In the 1960s, if a center led a mission, that center led the mission. Well today, we have telecommunications, and the ability to work remotely, and networks where we can share data and information. The way we work today is we share with all of the centers. I really think this is a great day for the Johnson Space Center. And I mean that.”

It is not only political figures who have questioned the efficiency of breaking management for different components of the lunar lander across two centers.

“The deal is the worst of all worlds,” one senior aerospace official, who is not tied to either the Alabama or Texas center, told Ars. “This sets up an epic battle between Marshall Space Flight Center and Johnson Space Center regarding budgets, mass, and schedule. The whole thing was done wrong.” Instead of accelerating a lunar landing, this source said, this division of work is likely to lead to delays.

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A giant full beaver moon set to dazzle Metro Vancouver skies – Vancouver Courier




While it is getting darker earlier in Metro Vancouver, this month’s full beaver moon promises to illuminate the night sky.

The November full moon is thought to have derived its funny name because it occurred during the optimal time to trap the furry creatures. In fact, both colonial Americans as well as the Algonquin tribes referred to it as such.

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“Why this name? Back then, this was the month to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” reports Farmer’s Almanac.

While it is commonly known as the beaver moon, it was also called the Full Frost Moon by other North American Tribes.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the moon will be fullest during the day on Tuesday, Nov. 12. However, Vancouver stargazers will still be able to see the nearly-full moon in all her celestial glory the night before (Nov. 11) as well as later that night (Nov. 12).

What’s more, this full moon casts long, hauntingly beautiful shadows in the Northern Hemisphere. They are similar to those cast by the midday summer sun, as the moon is extremely high in the sky during this time.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best the in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

Click here for original article.

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All-female space walk a starry-eyed achievement: The Statesman – The Straits Times




NEW DELHI (THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – It is a starry-eyed achievement almost literally.

Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, two NASA astronauts, have crafted space history by embarking on what they call the first all-female space walk.

Tasked with replacing a failed power control unit, their performance has been decidedly spectacular as they floated feet-first out of the International Space Station’s (ISS) Quest airlock on Friday (Oct 18).

The spacewalk, known as an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) in the jargon of astronauts, took place seven months after the originally scheduled date for an “all-female outing”, which had to be dropped because the ISS had only one medium-sized spacesuit on board.

The agency sent up a second medium spacesuit in October.

From space to ground zero, the happiest thought at the moment must be that both the achievement and empowerment of women are now manifest in the rarified atmosphere of space.

Very appropriately has the significance of the spacewalk been summed up by Christina: “I think it’s important because of the historical nature of what we’re doing,” she said ahead of the spacewalk.

“In the past, women haven’t always been at the table. It’s wonderful to be contributing to the space programme at a time when all contributions are being accepted, when everyone has a role. That can lead in turn to increased chance for success.”

On closer reflection, more than the space-walk, it is the assignment that is historic to fix a failed power control unit.

Previously, 14 women and 213 men had carried out spacewalks. The first woman was the Russian cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya, who went outside the USSR’s Salyut 7 space station in 1984.

Video footage from the astronauts’ helmet cameras, as they dangled 260 miles above Earth, provided a live stream of the painstaking operation to carry the new hardware, install it and then return the faulty battery to the airlock for a postmortem back on Earth into why it failed.

Their work in space will, therefore, be followed up by the labs on Earth.

Exceptional must be the projected coordination between space science and pure science as the world knows it.

At 40, Christina is due to remain on the ISS until February, bringing her total time in space to 328 days, the longest single spaceflight by a woman and just short of Scott Kelly’s 340-day record.

Researchers are collecting extensive biomedical data on the impact of spaceflight on her system.

The majority of data available is on male astronauts, but there is some evidence that there are sex differences in response to a space environment.

One study found that women are more likely than men to suffer faintness as a result of “orthostatic hypotension”, a cardiovascular issue.

Men appear more prone to vision changes caused by spaceflight associated neuroocular syndrome (Sans).

A flight to space has a lot to bear on human health. The contretemps notwithstanding, NASA has reached a milestone.

The Statesman is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media entities.

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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Space Station Cargo Launch – PRNewswire




WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Media accreditation is open for the launch of the next SpaceX delivery of science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the International Space Station.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft is scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida no earlier than Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 12:48 p.m. EST.

Media prelaunch and launch activities will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and neighboring CCAFS. Credentialing deadlines are as follows:

  • International media without U.S. citizenship must apply by 4:30 p.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 27.
  • U.S. media must apply by 4:30 p.m. EST Friday, Nov. 15.

All media accreditation requests should be submitted online at:

For questions about accreditation, please email For other questions, contact Kennedy’s newsroom at 321-867-2468.

Each resupply mission to the station delivers scientific investigations in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help to keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars. Space station research through the ISS National Lab also provides opportunities for other U.S. government agencies, private industry, and academic and research institutions, to conduct microgravity research that leads to new technologies, medical treatments, and products that improve life on Earth.

Highlights of space station research that will be facilitated by research aboard this SpaceX Dragon mission include testing the effectiveness of a device to separate and capture water droplets suspended in an air stream, delivering a next-generation spaceborne system to image Earth in higher spectral resolution than currently possible onboard the TERRA satellite, and testing conditions to develop an inexpensive and scalable process to manufacture optical materials in space.

Cargo resupply from U.S. companies ensures a national capability to deliver critical science research to the space station, significantly increasing NASA’s ability to conduct new investigations at the only laboratory in space. This is the 19th SpaceX mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and enables research not possible on Earth. The space station has been occupied continuously since November 2000. In that time, 239 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft have visited the orbiting laboratory. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the mission, visit:


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