Space 

NASA shutdown plans follow familiar script

WASHINGTON – As the federal government begins its first shutdown in more than four years Jan. 20, NASA’s operating plans are little changed from that earlier shutdown, with most agency employees set to be furloughed. The continuing resolution (CR) that had been funding the federal government expired late Jan. 19 with no new appropriations bill taking its place. The House had passed Jan. 18 a CR that would have extended funding through Feb. 16, but the Senate could not win the necessary 60 votes to approve the bill, with most…

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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 

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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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 

REVEALED: Scientists find ‘KEY CLUE to Alien life’ in meteorites that SMASHED into earth

GETTY Chance of alien life after scientists find water in meteorites In 1998, two meteorites smashed into the earth, with one landing near a basketball court in Texas and the second crashing into Morocco. Now 20 years later, it is believed that they contained chemical components. The meteorites are filled with both liquid water and a mix of complex organic compounds, including hydrocarbons and amino acids it is believed. A study released on January 10 by the journal Science Advances, showed the first chemical study of organic matter and water…

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Space 

Safety panel raises concerns about Falcon 9 pressure vessel for commercial crew missions

WASHINGTON — An independent safety panel recommended NASA not certify SpaceX’s commercial crew system until the agency better understands the behavior of pressure vessels linked to a Falcon 9 failure in 2016. That recommendation was one of the stronger items in the annual report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) released by NASA Jan. 11, which found that NASA was generally managing risk well on its various programs. The report devoted a section to the composite overwrapped pressure vessels (COPVs) used to store helium in the second stage propellant…

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Space 

SpaceX delays commercial crew test flights to latter half of 2018

WASHINGTON — SpaceX has delayed its two commercial crew test flights by four months, according to a new NASA schedule released Jan. 11, raising questions about whether it or Boeing will be able to send astronauts to the International Space Station by the end of the year as previously planned. The updated schedule, which NASA said represents “the most recent publicly releasable dates” for the two companies, lists an uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in August 2018, followed by a crewed test flight in December. The previous…

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Top Stories World 

Astronaut apologises over claims he grew 9cm sparking fears he’d be STUCK in space

Most astronauts grow taller during long space missions – albeit not usually by as much as 9cm. This is down to the fact that, without gravity pressing down on them, the vertebrae in their spine begin to separate and elongate. Mr Kanai, an astronaut and researcher on board the International Space Station (ISS), had expressed concerns about whether he would be able to fit in his seat to return to Earth. He tweeted: “My height’s been measured here in space and somehow, somehow, I’ve grown 9cm! In only three weeks…

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Science 

Stuck in SPACE? Fears astronaut can’t return to Earth after ASTONISHING growth spurt

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) three weeks ago, and during that time he has had and astonishing growth spurt. He now says that he is concerned that he will be unable to fit into the seat of the Russian Soyuz vehicle which was meant to return him to Earth in June. When astronauts are in zero-gravity environments, they tend to grow between two and five centimetres. This is down to the fact that, free from the shackles of Earth’s gravity, their vertebrae in their…

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Space 

Report calls for ISS research transition plan and use of alternative platforms

WASHINGTON — With utilization of the International Space Station reaching a maximum, and with its long-term future uncertain, a recent report recommends that NASA develop transition plans and make use of alternative platforms, including commercial vehicles, to carry out critical microgravity research. The midterm assessment of the 2011 decadal survey on life and physical sciences research at NASA, released by a committee of the National Academies Dec. 15, supported efforts by NASA to increase research on the ISS, but warned the agency needed to act soon to develop a transition…

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