Space 

NASA 2019 budget expected to include lunar exploration program details

WASHINGTON – Details about how NASA will implement a space policy directive regarding a human return to the moon will be in the agency’s 2019 budget request, scheduled for release as soon as early February. NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) civil space forum here Jan. 18, didn’t discuss specifics of those plans, but suggested both international and commercial partnerships would play key roles in NASA’s approach to implementing Space Policy Directive 1. That directive, signed by President Trump Dec. 11,…

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Science 

Explorers in Mexico Discover World's Largest Underwater Cave and It's Filled With Ancient Mayan Treasures

Divers in Mexico have discovered the largest known underwater, flooded cave in the world. The discovery could reveal more about the pre-Hispanic, ancient community that existed in the region. The Yucatan peninsula, where the cave is located, still holds treasures from the ancient Mayan community. The cave is made of two massive underwater caverns that are connected. The cave stretches across 216 miles, according to the Gran Acuífero Maya (GAM), the team of explorers who discovered the cave.  The cave was discovered near the beach resort of Tulum, reported Reuters. The two caves, Sac Actun and…

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Space 

News Analysis | Russia sneers at Trump’s moon directive, but misses the point

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2018 issue of SpaceNews magazine. MOSCOW — There are many valid critiques of U.S. President Donald Trump’s new direction for NASA. Few, if any, would be new. NASA has, for decades, been redirected by nearly every new administration to take office. But Russian government officials saw an opportunity for domestic attention and took a stab at it. “A ‘resumption’ of flights to the moon? How nice,” Alexey Pushkov, a prominent Russian hawk and chairman of the information policy committee in the country’s…

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Space 

SpaceX and customers defend Falcon 9 performance after Zuma mission

WASHINGTON — SpaceX reiterated at a congressional hearing Jan. 17 that its Falcon 9 rocket performed as expected on its most recent launch, despite swirling questions about the potential failure of the classified Zuma mission. SpaceX, though, now has the support of the customer for its next commercial launch, who said it was “confident” that SpaceX would be ready for the late January mission. In a tweet Jan. 17, SES said it reviewed data from the Jan. 7 Falcon 9 launch of Zuma and concluded that the vehicle had performed…

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Space 

GAO warns of further delays in certifying commercial crew vehicles

WASHINGTON — As the two companies developing commercial crew systems reiterated that they were on schedule to carry out test flights later this year, a government analysis of schedules concluded those vehicles may not be certified to carry NASA astronauts until late 2019 or early 2020. That assessment, delivered by the Government Accountability Office at a Jan. 17 hearing by the House space subcommittee on the commercial crew program, raises the potential of a gap in U.S. access to the International Space Station when the agency’s current agreements for Soyuz…

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Science 

World’s largest cave full of Mayan secrets discovered beneath Mexico

A 215.6 mile long cave which stretches beneath Mexico has been found, and it contains a perfectly preserved Mayan artefacts and extinct fauna. The cave is connected by two of the world’s largest flooded caverns – Sac Actun and Dos Ojos in Tulum, Quintana Roo – and is now longer than the previous underwater cave, Ox Bel Ha in the same region, which measures 167.9 miles. The discovery was made by research unit Gran Acuifero Maya (GAM) which has been exploring the two caverns for two decades in an attempt…

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Top Stories World 

Most National Park System advisory board members quit in protest

Nine of the 12 members of the National Park System Advisory Board have resigned, saying the Interior Department has ignored it since President Donald Trump took office a year ago, the board’s chairman said Tuesday. In an interview with Alaska Public Radio, the board’s chairman since 2010, Tony Knowles, a former Democratic governor of Alaska, confirmed a report in The Washington Post that he and eight other members of the advisory panel quit on Monday out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke hadn’t met with them even once. Tony…

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Top Stories World 

Here’s the controversial key to NASA’s bold plan for Mars

Get the Mach newsletter. SUBSCRIBE Begun in 1998 and completed in 2011, the International Space Station is celebrated as a remarkable feat of engineering as well as a far-flung home away from home for the astronauts who have lived and worked aboard the orbiting outpost. But with the ISS slated for retirement in 2028, NASA is now making bold plans for the next phase of human spaceflight. The plans call for astronauts to return to the moon and then venture deeper into space. As President Trump said in December, these…

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Science 

NASA discover network of Moon TUNNELS for new base that could hide water

The US space agency has found a top candidate for a settlement with the lava tubes that burrow down into the moon and date back to its volcanic past. Lead researcher Dr Pascal Lee said: “We are looking at good candidates considering simultaneously their size, shape, lighting conditions and geologic setting.” The entrances in the Moon’s surface may lead to subterranean water the new images reveal. It is believed the tubes are part of an underground network and could give lunar explorers access into the Moon’s interior. The tunnels could…

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Science 

SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch date: What time is the SpaceX Falcon Heavy static fire TODAY?

Although SpaceX has shied away from setting a concrete launch date in stone, a static-fire test is expected around 9pm GMT (4pm EST) today. Crews at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida have already loaded up the spacecraft with fuel and the rocket is standing vertical at Launch Pad 39A. If Falcon Heavy successfully fires all 27 of its impressive engines, the monstrous rocket should be given the green light for lift-off later in January. The Florida-based space centre said: “Currently this launch is targeted for no earlier than (NET)…

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