Some speculate that incoming President Donald Trump is considering supporting a revamped humans-to-Mars program.
Trump reportedly talked about Mars exploration and public-private partnerships with Elon Musk during a meeting.
Trump also talked with historian Douglas Brinkley about the Apollo program and how it brought the country together in the 1960s. [Washington Post]
Technical and range issues scrubbed Thursday night’s scheduled launch of a missile warning satellite on an Atlas 5. The launch was first delayed by sensor problems with the rocket, and later when an aircraft entered restricted airspace. The launch has been rescheduled for 7:42 p.m. Eastern tonight, with a 40-minute launch window. The Atlas is carrying the SBIRS GEO-3 satellite, designed to detect launches of ballistic missiles. [SpaceNews]
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is criticizing the Defense Department for cuts in space-related R&D. A report issued this week by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that while threats to space assets are growing “with alarming speed,” the Defense Department has cut research and development spending on space systems from $5 billion a year to less than $1 billion from 2009 to 2016. McCain, in a report that broadly addressed requirements for defense spending, said that “space must be a priority for additional funding” in the years to come to counter those emerging threats. [SpaceNews]
OHB System is working to speed up production of its line of small geostationary satellites. The first SmallGEO satellite, Hispasat 36W-1, is scheduled to launch next week, seven years after it was ordered. OHB said technical challenges stretched out the production time of that satellite, and expects to build future satellites in about three years. [SpaceNews]
Atomic clock problems are casting doubts on launch plans for future Galileo spacecraft. While ESA had previously planned to launch four more Galileo satellites on an Ariane 5 in August, the agency will only commit now to launching them before the end of the year. ESA Director General Jan Woerner said at a briefing this week that no decision has been made yet on delaying the launch. [SpaceNews]
The Trump administration is reportedly planning significant budget cuts. Plans being developed by his adviers call for “dramatic” cuts to non-defense programs, including major changes in various cabinet-level agencies. The report did not specifically address potential cuts to NASA programs, or space-related programs at other agencies, like NOAA. [The Hill]
Sen. Deb Fischer is the new head of the Senate subcommittee responsible for military space issues. The Nebraska Republican was named this week the chair of the strategic forces subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. That subcommittee was previously chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has been nominated to become Attorney General. The subcommittee’s responsibilities include oversight of U.S. Strategic Command, headquartered in Fischer’s home state. [SpaceNews]
Terrestrial microbes could survive in the tenuous atmosphere of Mars, according to a new study. Scientists studied several types of microbes known as methanogens, which do not require oxygen and could live just below the surface of Mars. They tested the microbes by exposing them to atmospheric conditions like those found on Mars. The microbes survived in that environment during experiments lasting up to three weeks. Future tests plan to study how the microbes handle both Martian atmospheric conditions and low temperatures. [Space.com]