A former Republican candidate for president disagrees with Donald Trump’s assessment that the U.S. has a “Third World” space program.
Meeting with reporters Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the U.S. space program has “very talented and capable people,” disagreeing with Trump’s criticism of the program during a rally in Florida earlier this month. Rubio did warn that the next president could “once again throw all of this into chaos and disarray” by changing the direction of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts.
Rubio, who lost the Republican presidential nomination to Trump, is now running for reelection to the Senate. [Florida Today]
NASA astronauts successfully installed a new docking port on the International Space Station Friday. Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins spent nearly six hours outside the ISS on Friday, achieving their primary goal of attaching an International Docking Adapter to a port on the Harmony module. The adapter, delivered last month on a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft, will allow future commercial crew vehicles to dock with the station. The spacewalkers completed some additional work outside the station, although plans to do some “get-ahead” work planned for future spacewalks was cut short by a communications issue with Williams’ suit. [CBS]
Boeing won’t confirm it’s reached a settlement with Energia regarding Sea Launch, but the two companies are talking. Russian media reported last week that Boeing and Energia had reached a deal to settle a lawsuit Boeing filed in U.S. federal courts seeking reimbursements from Energia and Yuzhnoye for payments to Sea Launch creditors. Boeing declined to comment on the report, but a federal court agreed to stay future action on the case in July after Boeing and Energia said they were negotiating “an integrated final settlement agreement” in the case. That court ruled in May that Energia owed Boeing more than $320 million. [SpaceNews]
NASA hopes to get the annual costs of the Space Launch System and Orion program to less than $2 billion. In an interview last week, Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for exploration systems development, said that those reduced costs would require “some different thinking and maybe a little bit more risk taking” than NASA does today, where it spends more than $3.6 billion on SLS, Orion and ground systems development. NASA also has a goal of performing one SLS mission, of Orion or other payloads, per year by the mid-2020s, growing to two per year near the end of the decade. [Ars Technica]
Russian officials claim they have eight customers for a commercial human lunar flyby mission, at $150 million each. Vladimir Solntsev, general director of RSC Energia, said his company had eight potential candidates for such a mission willing to pay that cost, including a Japanese family. Energia, working with American space tourism company Space Adventures, has long promoted a plan to send a modified Soyuz spacecraft around the moon with one cosmonaut and two tourists on board. [Sputnik]
A group of Chinese scientists is studying a proposal to develop a human lunar base to support a radar station there. A study, funded by the Chinese government, is examining establishing a radar facility on the lunar surface, maintained by a crew stationed there, that would use radar for Earth science applications. Many other Chinese scientists are skeptical of the proposal because of both its technical limitations and likely high cost. [South China Morning Post]
The first Falcon 9 booster to successfully land is now on display outside SpaceX’s headquarters. Workers on Saturday installed the first stage vertically outside the company’s Hawthorne, California, headquarters. The stage landed at Cape Canaveral after a launch in December, and SpaceX said they planned to put it on display rather than attempt to reuse it. A stage that landed in April, the second recovered by the company, will be the first to be reflown, perhaps later this year. [Spaceflight Now]
You now have less than a year to prepare for the “Great American Eclipse.” On Aug. 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible on a path stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, with a partial eclipse visible from most of the rest of North America. Hotel rooms in cities on the path of totality are already mostly booked for that day, as are many campsites, particularly in the western U.S. where skies are most likely to be clear. [GeekWire]