Today’s Tidbits: February 25, 2019

Today’s Tidbits: February 25, 2019

Here are’s tidbits for February 25, 2019:  Fred Kennedy to lead SDA; Musk wants a Moon base; and Hayabusa2’s shadow image.   Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Fred Kennedy to Lead Space Development Agency

Fred Kennedy, Director, Tactical Technology Office, DARPA

As reported by Space News, Fred Kennedy has been selected to head the soon-to-be created Space Development Agency (SDA).  Kennedy is currently the Director of the Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

DARPA develops cross-cutting technologies for the Department of Defense.

SDA is being established as part of a broader effort to more effectively organize and manage military space activities that includes creation of a U.S. Space Force.  SDA is intended ensure the Space Force has cutting-edge warfighting capabilities. It will focus on innovation, experimentation and forging the technologies of the future, breaking free of existing inefficient and duplicative bureaucracy.

Kennedy seems a natural fit with a Ph.D. in electronics and physical sciences from the University of Surrey, an M.A. in organizational management from George Washington University, an M.A. in strategic studies from the Army War College, and an M.S. and B.S. in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT.  He spent 23-years in the U.S. Air Force with tours at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Space News reporter Sandra Erwin writes that Kennedy was chosen by Mike Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, who has been put in charge of setting up SDA.  []

Musk Wants a Base On the Moon

Elon Musk is best known for his plans to send a million people to Mars as a hedge against a catastrophe destroying Earth and humanity, but it turns out he is interested in building a base on the Moon first.

Musk told Popular Mechanics in an interview published today []:

I think Starship will also be good for creating a base on the moon. We’ll probably have a base on the moon before going to Mars.– Elon  Musk

Starship is the SpaceX spacecraft that will take humans beyond low Earth orbit, launched by SpaceX’s Super Heavy rocket (formerly referred to as Big Falcon Rocket or BFR).  SpaceX is working on it right now and signed up its first passenger, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, for a flight in 2023.  That is a trip around the Moon, however, not a landing.

Mars is the still the long term goal, though.  Asked what people would do during the first few minutes or hours after arriving on Mars, Musk conceded he hadn’t thought about it at the “granularity of minutes.”  The hard part is getting there alive.  “[T]here’s a lot of work to do once you get there, but it’s not like, Oh my god we’re on Mars. There will be that, from an awe standpoint.  But if  you get there and you’re alive, the hard part is accomplished.  That’s the hard part.”

Hayabusa2’s Shadow Image

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA’s) Hayabusa2 successfully touched down on the asteroid Ryugu last week (February 21 Eastern Standard Time/February 22 Japan Standard Time).

The spacecraft lowered its orbit, touched the surface to obtain a sample (everything seemed to go well, but no one will know how much material was collected until it gets back to Earth), and then returned to its “home” position orbiting the asteroid.   On the way back up, it captured a nifty photo showing its own shadow on Ryugu’s surface.  Also visible is the area where surface material was disturbed by its actions.

Image captured near the touchdown site immediately after touchdown. The photograph was taken with the Optical Navigation Camera – Wide angle (ONC-W1) on February 22, 2019 at an onboard time of around 07:30 JST. (Image credit: JAXA, University of Tokyo, Kochi University, Rikkyo University, Nagoya University, Chiba Institute of Technology, Meiji University, University of Aizu, AIST.)

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