Chairman Smith: "The NASA Authorization Act of 2018 is a crucial step in restoring the greatness of American space exploration. With this bill, we ensure that NASA will focus on its priority missions, effectively leverage private sector partnerships and entrepreneurship, and continue space research that will launch America toward new scientific discoveries and worlds.
Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.
You have undoubtedly seen the moon, but have you ever seen it up close in glorious 4K resolution? Probably not, but you can see it right now on YouTube. NASA has uploaded a new video, created mostly from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) observations. The video takes you on a tour of several different regions, some of which still present tantalizing mysteries for future exploration.
The James Webb Space Telescope is intended as the successor to Hubble, which is now more than 25 years old. Hubble was last services during one of the final Space Shuttle missions, and there are no plans to make another visit. When it stops working, that will be the end of the mission. The JWST was already supposed to be in space at this point, but it’s a complicated project costing more than $8 billion to date. NASA wants to get it right, and that has led to the latest delay.
The appropriations bill gives NASA $20.736 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, which started more than five and a half months ago. That is more than $1.6 billion above the administration’s original request of $19.092 billion. A House appropriations bill offered NASA $19.872 billion and its Senate counterpart $19.529 billion. An overarching two-year budget deal reached earlier this year raised spending caps for both defense and non-defense programs, freeing up additional funding.
NASA has selected 128 proposals from American small businesses to advance research and technology in Phase II of its 2017 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. These selections support NASA's future space exploration missions, while also benefiting the U.S. economy.
At the first National Space Council meeting in October, Pence emphasized that the U.S. will "win the 21st century in space," laying out a plan to focus on human spaceflight and get astronauts back to the moon. At today's meeting, hosted at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he talked about the path toward that goal and brought in several panelists who supported loosening regulations to allow for more innovation from private spaceflight companies.
Sending astronauts back to the moon is one of the top space priorities of President Trump. But his administration wants to accomplish that without giving NASA additional money, and it won’t occur until after he leaves office, even if he wins re-election. Instead, it aims to give the private sector a greater role, according to a budget proposal to be released on Monday.
SpaceX, the private space company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, successfully launched the most powerful commercial rocket in the world on Tuesday. The Falcon Heavy, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, took off with double the power of the world's next most powerful rocket, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy.
The administration genuinely appears to be motivated to accomplish real human space exploration goals within its term of office. It remains unclear, however, whether a sufficient budget will actually be allotted to enable execution of its ambitious policy, either in whole or in part. Federal budgets are challenging—and will be for the foreseeable future--but there is an extremely compelling reason why the administration should go “all in” on this plan and propose a budget that will enable the United States to aggressively move forward.