Today’s Tidbits: February 8, 2018 (Updated)

Today’s Tidbits: February 8, 2018 (Updated)

Here are our tidbits for February 8, 2018:  government shutdown imminent, but hopefully short lived; Musk’s Starman not headed to asteroid belt after all; Bill Gerstenmaier and Jeff Bezos elected to NAE.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Government Shutdown Imminent, But Hopefully Short Lived

As of press time, the federal government will shut down at midnight due to lack of funding.  The budget deal to raise the budget caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act and fund the government through March 23, 2018 announced yesterday has not been approved by either the Senate or the House.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) implemented a procedural roadblock to delay the vote until his party’s leader and fellow Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell, allowed him to offer an amendment to restore the budget caps that the bill seeks to eliminate.  McConnell is not willing to do that for fear that other Senators will follow suit and demand to offer their own amendments and the deal will fall apart.

At the moment, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill at 1:00 am ET, an hour after the government shuts down.  It then must be voted on by the House, which is expected to occur before 6:00 am ET.  Whether there are enough votes for the bill in the House remains uncertain, but if House Speaker Paul Ryan can  convince enough Republicans and Democrats to vote for it, government workers should be able to report for work sometime Friday morning.

Stay tuned.  [UPDATE:  the government did officially shutdown, but only for about 8 1/2 hours.  The Senate passed the CR just before 2:00 am ET on February 9; the House followed suit about 5:30 am; and the President signed it into law about 8:30 am ET.  Government workers reported to their jobs as usual. ]

Musk’s Starman Not Off to the Asteroid Belt After All

Elon Musk’s Starman at the wheel of a Tesla Roadster on its way into interplanetary space.

A tweet by SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the third stage of the Falcon Heavy rocket that sent a Tesla Roadster driven by a spacesuited mannequin dubbed Starman into space on Tuesday “Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.”

SpaceX hasn’t said any more about it publicly, but astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell of Jonathan’s Space Report tweeted yesterday that the company had provided him and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with the object’s orbital parameters.  His calculations show that it will not, in fact, go as far as the Asteroid Belt, but will be closer to Mars as originally intended.   CBS News space reporter Bill Harwood has the story: [].

Bill Gerstenmaier and Jeff Bezos Elected to NAE

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has announced the election of 83 new members and 16 foreign members.

Among them are NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, and and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

Gerstenmaier is cited for his  “technical contributions and leadership in national and international human spaceflight programs.

Bezos is cited for “leadership and innovation in space exploration, autonomous systems, and building a commercial pathway for human space flight.”

The full list of new members is posted on the NAE website: [].

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