The Prince of Darkness Visits JSC
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) November 3, 2015
Rock star Ozzy Osbourne has been spotted at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, although exactly why is unclear.
Osbourne and his son Jack were seen on the JSC campus, although, surprisingly, “few photos or even selfies have surfaced,” according to a report.
Osbourne himself tweeted a photo Tuesday of him at a nearby hotel, with the caption “in Houston @NASA History.”
Osbourne and his son have been working on a television series for the History Channel which he recently described as a “father and son spoof on history.” [Houston Chronicle]
NASA could award commercial cargo contracts as soon as today. Schedules for the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract call for NASA to make awards on Thursday, although NASA has not publicly confirmed that it still on schedule. NASA is expected to award at least two contracts to transport cargo to and from the station after current contracts held by Orbital ATK and SpaceX end. Both those companies submitted proposals for CRS-2, along with Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sierra Nevada Corp. [Florida Today]
NASA will soon open a new astronaut selection round. NASA announced Wednesday it will start accepting applications next month for an astronaut selection process that will culminate with the announcement of a new astronaut class in mid-2017. In the previous round in 2013, NASA received more than 6,000 applications, ultimately selecting eight people to join the astronaut corps. [Ars Technica]
NASA is counting on a budget increase yet to be passed by Congress for 2016 to keep its key exploration programs on track. Agency officials said at a NASA Advisory Council meeting Wednesday that they are spending money on SLS, Orion and ground systems at a level that assumes a budget increase included in House and Senate bills will be approved. NASA is currently operating under a continuing resolution that would normally keep those programs at lower fiscal year 2015 levels. The agency said that the increase proposed by Congress is needed to continue work on a new upper stage for SLS that NASA hopes to have ready in time for the first crewed SLS mission in the early 2020s. [SpaceNews]
The House rejected a number of amendments attempting to block reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank Wednesday night. The House debated, and ultimate rejected, ten amendments that would have altered provisions reauthorizing the bank in a highway bill the Senate previously approved. Proponents of the bank argued that the amendments were an effort to weaken the bank by its opponents, after failing to stop a standalone bill the House passed last week to reauthorize the bank. The Ex-Im Bank has been unable to do new deals since its authorization lapsed at the beginning of July. [The Hill]
A U.S. policy change will allow allies to access to a mobile communication satellite system. An official with U.S. Strategic Command said at a London conference this week that the government quietly made a policy change in April, allowing allies access to the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access payload on the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites. The full MUOS system is now scheduled to enter service in 2016, a year earlier than previous estimates. [SpaceNews]
The first Canadian in space is now a government minister. New Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet Wednesday, selecting Marc Garneau as Minister of Transport. Garneau, a member of Parliament from Montreal since 2008, became the first Canadian in space when he flew on a shuttle mission in 1984. Trudeau also selected Navdeep Bains as the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, whose portfolio includes the Canadian Space Agency. [CBC]
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A new space weather policy asks NOAA to consider commercial and international data sources. The Space Weather Action Plan, released by the White House last week, instructs NOAA to consider “commercial solutions and international partnerships” for its space weather data needs. The first opportunity to do so may be when NOAA, working with NASA and the Air Force, prepares a study on how to replace the aging SOHO satellite, a key tool for monitoring solar storms. [SpaceNews]
Questions remain about NATO’s satellite communications plans. The defense alliance is expected to approve funding and “basic outlines” of a 15-year satellite telecommunications purchase by the end of this year, but exactly how it will implement that purchase is unclear. While NATO is not expected to field its own communications satellites, the organization has yet to decide whether to rely entirely on member nations’ satellites or supplement them with commercial satellites. [SpaceNews]
The Johnson Space Center will provide support to a nearby commercial spaceport. NASA officials announced Wednesday that it will work with the Houston Airport System to provide “expertise and credibility” for a commercial spaceport at Ellington Airport, located near JSC. That partnership will begin with JSC providing safety training to personnel at Ellington, and could expand to allow the spaceport to make use of JSC training facilities and other resources. Ellington received a commercial spaceport license from the FAA earlier this year, but is still working to attract customers to the site. [Houston Chronicle]
Hawaii is moving ahead with plans to seek a spaceport license for Kona International Airport. A draft environmental review of potential launch activities at the airport on the Big Island should be done soon and briefed to local residents early next year, a state official said. Assuming the review finds no significant impacts to such activities, the state would submit a spaceport license application to the FAA six months after the report is completed. The state has signed nondisclosure agreements with two companies reportedly interested in using the spaceport, but officials did not identify those companies. [Hawaii Tribune-Herald]