Today’s Tidbits: September 14, 2017

Today’s Tidbits: September 14, 2017

Here are our tidbits for today, September 14, 2017.   These are nuggets that may not warrant a full-length article, but we hope you will find interesting.  Enjoy!

Hurricane Irma

Kennedy Space Center remains closed for the rest of the week.  It still has no potable water.  KSC’s website says the center experienced 67-94 mile per hour (mph) winds at the 54-foot level to 90-116 mph winds at the 458-foot level during the storm (for reference, the VAB is 526 feet high).

At the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), operated by Patrick Air Force Base, work is returning to normal (they had water a couple of days ago, but it was under a boil advisory) and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) is getting back to regular operations.  ULA President Tory Bruno tweeted the news.


NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is in its last hours of life.  At 11:00 pm ET, JPL will receive the final images taken by Cassini as it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere.  The images will be posted on   The final data will be received about 7:00 am ET tomorrow morning.  A press conference is scheduled for 9:30 am ET.

Cassini will melt as it enters Saturn’s atmosphere.  Some are calling it a suicide mission, but others want a more optimistic mindset.  Erika Nesvold tweeted this cartoon with a happier message.

House Passes FY2018 Appropriations Bills

The House passed H.R. 3354 today, a bundle of eight of the 12 regular appropriations bills for FY2018, including funding for NASA, NOAA and the FAA’s space office.  They passed a bundle of the other four in July, including defense.  For the first time in a long time, the House has passed all 12 regular appropriatons bills before the beginning of the fiscal year.   There’s still a long way to go (the Senate hasn’t passed any yet), but a milestone nonetheless.


It has 13 letters, but it may as well be a four-letter word in Washington.  Everyone hates those automatic across-the-board budget cuts that go into effect if Congress appropriates more money than allowed by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) . The House may have passed all its FY2018 bills, and the Senate may get all of its passed, too (or just negotiate with the House using the House bills), but they still have to live within the caps set by the BCA (which most do not want to do because they want to increase defense spending, but not take the difference out of non-defense programs), raise the caps, or repeal the caps entirely. Senate Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) wanted to get rid of the caps.  He’s a staunch conservative, but wrote a very interesting op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (link to it from his Senate website) explaining why.

Everyone may hate sequestration, but apparently not enough to be on record voting for its repeal.  Cotton wanted to offer an amendment to the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) currently being debated on the Senate floor to repeal sequestration, but there was sufficient opposition that it had to be withdrawn.  So the caps remain in place. Neither the House nor the Senate, both led by Republicans, have passed a Budget Resolution this year, something they sharply criticized Democrats for when they were in power.  These are difficult issues to solve.

For now, however, the BCA caps remain in place.

Senate Debate on the NDAA

Things were looking a little dicey for the NDAA on the Senate floor today, with four amendments, including Cotton’s, holding up debate.  As McCain’s tweet indicates, they got it worked out.

The Senate is done for this week. When they reconvene on Monday, debate on the NDAA will continue. Final passage is expected that day.

How NOT to Land an Orbital Booster Rocket

Elon Musk and SpaceX have put together a really nifty video on that topic, with footage of their failed attempts — followed by successes at the end.  Kudos to them for having a sense of humor about it all.   The video is really fun to watch.



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