Today’s Tidbits: November 27, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: November 27, 2018

Here are’s tidbits for November 27, 2018:  Janet Karika is new NASA Chief of Staff; final 2018 Senate race decided; Japan to form space unit in Self-Defense Forces.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Janet Karika is New NASA Chief of Staff

Janet Karika, NASA Chief of Staff. Credit: Karika’s LinkedIn page.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced today that he has selected Janet Karika to serve as his Chief of Staff.  She is very well known not just in Washington space circles, but in the space community overall.  Congratulations, Janet!

Karika has a B.S. and M.S. in mechanical engineering with an emphasis in ultra-high temperature composites used in space propulsion and thermal protection systems.  She has spent her career in aerospace — first in the Air Force and later in industry.  But rather than reading about her career, you can hear it directly from her in this TedX-like talk that was taped last year at the Satellite 2017 conference. []  H/T to @astroedtx for tweeting the link.

Bridenstine tweeted the news this afternoon.

Final 2018 Senate Race Decided

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi)

A run-off election in Mississippi settled the final Senate race of 2018.  In Mississippi, a candidate must win 50 percent of the vote or a run-off is held between the two top vote-getters.  On November 6, incumbent Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith got 41.2 percent while her Democratic challenger Mike Espy got 40.8 percent.  Another Republican, Chris McDaniel, got the remaining 16.5 percent.

As of press time, Hyde-Smith was projected to be the winner with 56 percent of the vote, although Espy, a former Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton Administration, had not yet conceded.

She is the first woman to be elected to Congress from that state.

Hyde-Smith was appointed by the Governor of Mississippi to fill the vacancy created when Thad Cochran resigned in April for health reasons. This election is to fill the remaining two years of his term.  She was heavily favored to win despite controversial statements that came to light in the past few weeks that some construed as racist.  Mississippi has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1982.  President Trump held two rallies for her yesterday and she had no Republican opposition in the run-off.

Her win means that Republicans will hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate in the 116th Congress, which begins in January, compared to the 51-49 split today.

Japan to Form Space Unit in Self-Defense Forces

Japan is planning to establish a “space command center” within its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) according to a report in Asahi Shimbun. The proposal will be part of a revision of the National Defense Program Guidelnes that is expected to be released next month.   []

Former defense minister Itsunori Onodera revealed the plan last week.  He is leading the effort to revise the guidelines.

The report variously refers to it as a command center, a system, and a “space corps” that will be in place as early as FY2022 and operated jointly by the Ground, Air, and Maritime SDF and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  It will track space debris and “keep an eye on moves by China, which reportedly is developing technology to attack satellites launched by other countries.”

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