Jeb Bush: NASA has “Lost its Purpose”
Told by a 13-year-old during a New Hampshire campaign stop Wednesday that NASA had “kind of like closed,” the former governor of Florida responded, “It’s not closed, but it’s lost its purpose. There is no big aspirational purpose.”
Bush also praised private space efforts by companies such as Blue Origin and SpaceX, according to a report about the encounter.
“I’m not obsessive about space but I think it’s part of our identity as a culture,” Bush said. [CBS]
Russia is revamping its plans to send humans to the moon given the country’s financial problems. The new plan, developed over the last year, does away with a heavy-lift rocket in favor of multiple launches of the Angara 5 to place spacecraft and a tug in orbit to go to the moon. Russian officials recently confirmed that plans for a human lunar landing, previously planned for the mid-2020s, have been delayed to no earlier than 2029. [Popular Mechanics]
Arianespace beat out SpaceX and other companies for commercial launch orders in 2015. Company CEO Stephane Israel said this week Arianespace won orders for 14 commercial geostationary satellite launches, compared to 9 for SpaceX and only 1 each for ILS and ULA. Israel added he remained skeptical about the prospects of reusable launch vehicles despite SpaceX’s successful Falcon 9 landing last month because of questions about how easily and how frequently the stage can be reused. [SpaceNews]
Plans for an Indian satellite ground station in Vietnam have raised concerns in China. The satellite tracking and communications station, located outside of Ho Chi Minh City, will open soon and be linked to other stations that the Indian space agency ISRO operates in the region. An article in the Chinese state-run publication Global Times argued that the station was a sign that India wants to “stir up trouble” in the South China Sea region, were China has territorial disputes with several other nations. [PTI]
But Is Buzz a Favorite of Them?
Buzz Aldrin might be regretting naming his two favorite things. After a NASA official tweeted a preview of an upcoming Glamour magazine article profiling several of the agency’s female astronauts, the Apollo 11 astronaut responded: “I’d like to read this article. It has Mars and women. What could be better than my two favorite things?” Several hours later, perhaps aware of the backlash that comment created, Aldrin backtracked. “I have nothing but the highest respect for women. Some of the most intelligent people I’ve worked with are women like my friend Dava Newman,” he tweeted, mentioning NASA’s current deputy administrator. Aldrin, and others, can read the Glamour article online.
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Sen. Barabra Mikulski paid a visit Wednesday to the NASA center she has supported over the years. Mikulski, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, discussed NASA funding in the recent appropriations bill during a town hall meeting at the Goddard Space Flight Center, and also recalled the drama of the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission more than 20 years ago. Mikulski also attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new satellite servicing lab at the center, an effort she has supported in appropriations bills. Mikulski is retiring from the Senate after this year. [Roll Call]
OneWeb is leasing office space in the Washington, D.C. area. The company is leasing 6,000 square feet of office space in Rosslyn, Virginia, that will host staff currently working at offices of Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat, two OneWeb partners, in the area. OneWeb founder Greg Wyler said the company is creating the Washington office to be close to those partners as well as the offices of regulators as it develops a constellation of low Earth orbit broadband communication satellites. [SpaceNews]
The revamped Kepler mission has discovered more than 100 extrasolar planets in its first year. Astronomers said this week they had confirmed the discovery of more than 100 exoplanets in observations performed by the “K2” mission. K2 looks at different regions of the sky for three months at a time, salvaging a spacecraft that was unable to continue its primary mission after two of its four reaction control wheels used for attitude control failed in 2013. Project officials believe the mission can continue to operate for at least two more years. [SPACE.com]
Astronomers may be looking for intelligent life in the wrong places. Scientists said this week that old globular clusters could be the most promising locations to search for evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations. Such clusters had been ruled out in the past because gravitational interactions among the tightly packed stars would have ejected any orbiting planets. New research suggests there may be a “sweet spot” of spacing among stars in those clusters that would allow relatively easy movement from one system to another, making clusters one of the more promising places for a long-lived extraterrestrial civilization. [Nature]