Today’s Tidbits: December 7, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: December 7, 2017

Here are our tidbits for December 7, 2017:  government shutdown averted for now; a new space race — between Boeing and SpaceX; today’s anniversary of the last Apollo mission to the Moon.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter for more news and live tweeting of events.

Government Shutdown Averted — For Two Weeks Anyway

The House and Senate each passed a new Continuing Resolution (CR) today that will keep the government operating for another two weeks, until December 22.  The new CR is a “clean” bill that simply substitutes December 22 for December 8 as the expiration date, except that it also provides funds for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through December 31.  CHIP financing lapsed in September.

None of the complex budget and spending issues pending before Congress were resolved.  The move simply kicks the can down the road until three days before Christmas.  The expectation is that another CR will be passed at that time to keep the government operating into January when, presumably, a final agreement will be reached on FY2018 spending.

President Trump is expected to sign the bill, averting a government shutdown for now, but the hard decisions lie ahead.

Boeing-SpaceX Space Race?

Alan Boyle at GeekWire recounts an interesting story today that portends a new space race, in this case between Boeing and SpaceX.  The prize is whose launch vehicle will be the one to send humans to Mars for the first time. (Click the link in the tweet below to read his full story.)

Boeing is the prime contractor for NASA’s Space Launch System, which NASA plans to use for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, including to Mars.  The first launch of the initial (70 metric ton) version of SLS is planned for 2019-2020.   SpaceX has a concept for its BFR (currently explained by SpaceX as representing the words Big Falcon Rocket), that would be used to fulfill SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s plan to send a million people to live on Mars as a backup to Earth should our planet be destroyed by natural or other catastrophes.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was asked by  CNBC’s Jim Cramer which company would “get a man on Mars first.” Muilenberg replied that he firmly believes “the first person that sets foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket” to which Musk replied via tweet “Do it.”  Boeing replied by tweet:  “Game on.”

Apollo 17 anniversary

Today is the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the final Apollo mission to the Moon.  Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Gene Cernan were the last humans to walk on the Moon, while command module pilot Ron Evans orbited above.  Cernan died earlier this year; Evans died in 1990.  Schmitt, who was a U.S. Senator from 1976-1982 and chaired the NASA Advisory Council when Mike Griffin was Administrator, testified to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in February 2017 in favor of a return to the Moon before going to Mars.  The title of his testimony was “The Moon is on the Path to get to Mars and Beyond.”

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