Today’s Tidbits: January 26, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: January 26, 2018

Here are our tidbits for January 26, 2018: possible launch date for Falcon Heavy; NASA-JAXA space cooperation statement; former astronaut James Reilly to be USGS Director. Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

POSSIBLE Launch Date for Falcon Heavy

With the successful static fire test of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy two days ago, space enthusiasts are eager to know when the first launch will take place.  SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said only it would be “in a week or so.”

SpaceX has not announced anything more specific than that, but today’s Chris Gebhardt (@ChrisG_NSF) tweeted that a date has been set, if tentatively:  February 6, with February 7 as a backup.   He emphasized in that and a subsequent tweet that those are “No Earlier Than” (NET) dates and could very well change. But for now, that’s the best information out there.

Gebhardt follows these launches very closely and was the narrator for’s live broadcast of the static fire test.  It is his voice that can be heard in the background during most of the video clip we posted Wednesday.

NASA and JAXA Affirm Future Space Cooperation Including Lunar Orbit Platform

NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) issued a joint statement today affirming a goal of expanding their cooperation to an orbiting platform around the Moon [].

The two countries cooperate on a broad range of space science, earth science, and human exploration programs, including Japan’s partnership in the International Space Station.  Today’s statement did not reference any new specific cooperation, but noted that the expected continuation of the partnership “will yield concrete results in maturing a flexible and sustainable deep space infrastructure to support a steady cadence of increasingly complex human and robotic missions in the boundless frontier of space…”

Reilly for USGS

Former NASA astronaut James Reilly. Credit: Reilly’s LinkedIn page.

President Trump today announced his intent to nominate James Reilly to be Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Reilly is a former astronaut who flew on three space shuttle missions (STS-89 in 1998, STS-104 in 2001 and STS-117 in 2007) and made a total of five spacewalks.  He has a Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Texas-Dallas.  Since leaving NASA in 2008, he has held a variety of corporate and academic positions and currently is an adviser to U.S. and allied miltaries on space operations and a technical adviser to the U.S. Air Force National Security Space Institute.

USGS operates the Landsat land remote sensing satellites, but otherwise has little to do with space.  It describes its mission this way: “We provide science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate and land-use change. Our scientists develop new methods and tools to supply timely, relevant, and useful information about the Earth and its processes.”

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