Today’s Tidbits: April 11, 2018 – Updated

Today’s Tidbits: April 11, 2018 – Updated

Here are our tidbits for April 11, 2018:  NASA’s new robotic lunar program gets a thumbs up from lunar community; SWF reports on global counterspace capabilities, Lightfoot receives STA Leadership Award.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Advocates Seek Congressional Support of NASA’s Robotic Lunar Plans

NASA’s FY2019 budget proposal to create a Lunar Discovery and Exploration program within the Science Mission Directorate has won the support of 72 scientists and company representatives engaged in lunar science and exploration.  In a letter to House and Senate appropriators, the group, led by Clive Neal of the University of Notre Dame, expressed “enthusiastic” support for the $218 million per year proposed program.

The money would pay for continued operation of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter already in orbit around the Moon and to contract with companies like Moon Express and Astrobotic that are planning to send small robotic landers to the Moon.  Representatives of both companies signed the letter, although most of the signatories are scientists at a variety of universities.

“The new Lunar Exploration and Discovery [sic] program will give the United States the chance to, at long last, systematically prospect for resources on the Moon’s surface, explore lunar lava tubes, investigate magnetic anomalies, and address a long list of unanswered geophysical questions whose answers have deep implications for understanding formation of the Solar System and planetary science.”

The letter also supports NASA’s request of $130 million in the Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) account in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate for building mid-sized landers.

New Report on Global Counterspace Capabilitities

The Secure World Foundation (SWF) has released a comprehensive report entitled Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment.

Written by SWF’s Brian Weeden and Victoria Samson, the report details past and present efforts by China, Russia, the United States, Iran, North Korea, and India to develop “counterspace” capabilities to “deceive, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy space systems.”

Five categories of counterspace capabilities are covered: direct-ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, directed energy, and cyber.

“The evidence shows significant research and development of a broad range of kinetic (i.e. destructive) and non-kinetic counterspace capabilities in multiple countries.  However, only non-kinetic capabilities are actively being used in current military operations.” [emphasis in original]

The report is available at: []

Lightfoot Receives STA Leadership Award

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. Credit: NASA.

Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot received the Space Transportation Association’s (STA’s) Leadership Award at a reception on Capitol Hill tonight.  Several Members of Congress honored Lightfoot for his nearly 30 year tenure at NASA including Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama,  Associate Administrator at NASA Headquarters, and, since January 2017, Acting Administrator.  He will retire at the end of this month and return to Huntsville.

Among the Congressmen thanking Lightfoot for his service to NASA and the country were Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee; Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the Space Subcommittee; Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), Vice Chairman of the Space Subcommittee; Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama), member of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee; and Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Oklahoma), President Trump’s nominee to be the new NASA Administrator.

Bridenstine thanked Lightfoot for all of his help in preparing to become Administrator and joked that he’s glad he has Lightfoot’s phone number.  Bridenstine’s nomination remains pending in the Senate.

Lightfoot expressed deep gratitude to STA and its President, Rich Coleman, not only for the award, but for serving as a forum where NASA can communicate with stakeholders about its activities.  He acknowledged Acting Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk and Deputy Associate Administrator Krista Paquin who were in the audience, assuring the crowd that he is leaving NASA in good hands while it awaits a new Administrator.

Recently Published on 

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.