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Today's Congressional Hearing on Astrobiology

By Keith Cowing on April 26, 2017 11:57 AM.

Hearing: Advances in the Search for Life

Hearing charter

"The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 established "The search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe," as one of the national space program's objectives. The hearing will survey recent breakthroughs in a variety of fields that contribute to astrobiology, such as the continued discovery of exoplanets and research efforts to understand life's origin on Earth and in the lab."

Comittee member statements: Rep. Babin, Rep. Johnson, Rep. Bera, Rep. Smith

Hearing witness statements: Thomas Zurbuchen, Adam Burgasser, James Kasting, Seth Shostak

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Is Google Building a Secret Airship at NASA Ames?

By Keith Cowing on April 26, 2017 10:34 AM.

With Secret Airship, Sergey Brin Also Wants to Fly, Bloomberg

"Larry Page has his flying cars. Sergey Brin shall have an airship. Brin, the Google co-founder, has secretly been building a massive airship inside of Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center, according to four people with knowledge of the project. It's unclear whether the craft, which looks like a zeppelin, is a hobby or something Brin hopes to turn into a business. "Sorry, I don't have anything to say about this topic right now," Brin wrote in an email."

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Senate Hearing on Tap: Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

By Marc Boucher on April 26, 2017 7:14 AM.

Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space (Live at 10:00 a.m. EDT)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled "Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space" at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.

Witnesses:

- Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace
- Mr. Rob Meyerson, President, Blue Origin
- Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Galactic Ventures
- Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space

Marc's note: Phil Larson, formerly with SpaceX, now Assistant Dean, College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado, Boulder wrote the following opinion yesterday afternoon in The Hill related to today's hearing; There's a new frontier in space exploration, but will Trump be on board?

"There's a jump ball underway in space, and it'll be on full display Wednesday at a Senate hearing chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Will the administration and Congress be pro-innovation or pro the old way of doing business? And will the team in the White House really look for opportunities to run government more like a business? There's no better bellwether for answering these questions than the space debate going on right now. "

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Astrobiology Then and Now

By Keith Cowing on April 25, 2017 10:21 PM.

Astrobiology Has Arrived: A Personal Recollection, Keith Cowing

"I am currently attending the Astrobiology Science Conference where the world's astrobiologists all meet to showcase their results and share ideas. There was a time, barely 20 years ago, when there were no astrobiologists. I was one of the lucky people to be present as this amazing 21st century discipline came into existence."

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NASA Invites Entrepreneurs to Another Industry Day

By Marc Boucher on April 25, 2017 4:26 PM.

NASA Invites Entrepreneurs to Another Industry Day

NASA has opened registration for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Industry Day.

NASA SBIR/STTR Industry Day
Date: June 25-27th, 2017
Location: NASA Ames Research Center
Building 152
Moffett Field, CA 94035

Continue reading: NASA Invites Entrepreneurs to Another Industry Day.

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Mars History Adds Credence to Late Heavy Bombardment Theory

By Marc Boucher on April 25, 2017 3:05 PM.

SwRI-Led Team Discovers Lull in Mars' Giant Impact History

"The new results reveal that Mars' impact history closely parallels the bombardment histories we've inferred for the Moon, the asteroid belt, and the planet Mercury," Bottke said. "We refer to the period for the later impacts as the 'Late Heavy Bombardment.' The new results add credence to this somewhat controversial theory. However, the lull itself is an important period in the evolution of Mars and other planets. We like to refer to this lull as the 'doldrums.'"

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Accepting More Personal Risk In Space Exploration

By Keith Cowing on April 25, 2017 12:19 PM.

Keith's note: People who engage on expeditions to risky and dangerous places on Earth regulary waive certain safety and medical regulations in order to participate. I have done it more than once in the arctic and at Everest. You consider the risks, weigh the benefits, and then sign the forms. There are lifetime radiation exposure limits for astronauts that are supposed to be used to guide the selection of ISS crews. Now, these limits are apparently subject to selective waiver. So are these "limits" now becoming "guidelines"? Are astronauts now doing something similar to what terrestrial explorers do in order to spend more time in space? What is the process whereby NASA makes this waiver decision? What are the implications for the whole #JourneyToMars thing?

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NASA Super Pressure Balloon Lifts Off From New Zealand

By Marc Boucher on April 25, 2017 10:12 AM.

NASA's Launches Football Stadium Sized Super Balloon From New Zealand [With Video]

"NASA successfully launched its football-stadium-sized, heavy-lift super pressure balloon (SPB) from Wanaka, New Zealand, at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, April 25 (6:50 p.m. April 24 in U.S. Eastern Time), on a mission designed to run 100 or more days floating at 110,000 feet (33.5 km) about the globe in the southern hemisphere's mid-latitude band."

Marc's note: Since New Zealand ambassador nominee Scott Brown won't be seeing a SpaceX launch from New Zealand, perhaps he'll settle for a NASA Super Pressure Balloon launch.

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SpaceX Launches From New Zealand According To U.S. Ambassador Nominee

By Keith Cowing on April 24, 2017 9:55 PM.

Keith's note: New Zealand ambassador nominee Scott Brown "I'm not sure our folks understand, but a lot of launches for SpaceX go right out of New Zealand."

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Last Cassini Flyby of Titan Completed

By Marc Boucher on April 24, 2017 2:56 PM.

Cassini Completes Final and Fateful Titan Flyby

"NASA's Cassini spacecraft has had its last close brush with Saturn's hazy moon Titan and is now beginning its final set of 22 orbits around the ringed planet."

"The spacecraft made its 127th and final close approach to Titan on April 21 at 11:08 p.m. PDT (2:08 a.m. EDT on April 22), passing at an altitude of about 608 miles (979 kilometers) above the moon's surface."

Marc's note: There are a couple of new images.

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President Trump Places a Call to the ISS

By Marc Boucher on April 24, 2017 7:30 AM.

Marc's note: At 10:00 a.m. ET President Trump, Ivanka Trump and NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins will call the ISS from the White House to speak with Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA. Will we hear anything of substance? With This President you never know. You can watch the event LIVE on SpaceRef.

Updated: NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson Talks STEM Education with President Trump

Updated: Remarks by President Trump in Video Call with NASA Astronauts Aboard the International Space Station

President Trump Calls Space Station Crew on Record-Setting Day

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Update: Heading For AbSciCon 2017

By Keith Cowing on April 23, 2017 11:54 PM.

Keith's note: This coming week I will be at the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon). As such my posting on NASAWatch will be somewhat limited. But Marc will be keeping an eye on things. I will be tweeting about the meeting from @NASAWatch and @Astrobiology and posting updates at astrobiology.com. AbSciCon Sessions will be streamed live at http://spaceref.com/live/astrobiology.html




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Video: This Week at NASA for April 22, 2017

By Marc Boucher on April 23, 2017 10:53 AM.

This Week at NASA: Expedition 51-52 Takes Flight, Earth Day and More

"On April 20, Expedition 51-52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos launched to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. About six-hours later, the pair arrived at the orbital outpost and were greeted by station Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and other members of the crew. Fischer and Yurchikhin will spend four and a half months conducting research aboard the station. Also, U.S. Resupply Mission Heads to the Space Station, Time Magazine Recognizes Planet-Hunting Scientists, Landslides on Ceres Reflect Ice Content, Mars Rover Opportunity Leaves 'Tribulation', and Earth Day in the Nation's Capital."

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Interstellar Docking

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2017 11:40 PM.

Keith's note: You have got to watch this. Full screen. Sound turned up - footage of the docking of Soyuz with ISS using the docking sequence from the "Interstellar" soundtrack. (Corrected, it was not a Cygnus.)

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House Science Committee Take on March for Science

By Keith Cowing on April 22, 2017 11:36 AM.

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chairman Smith Statement on the March for Science

"I support the right of science supporters to gather and march this weekend. Opening new frontiers of scientific knowledge, on Earth and beyond, will pave the way to a better, more secure future for the next generation. I will continue to support scientific research that furthers our national interest and is of the highest intellectual merit."

Ranking Member Johnson Applauds Mission of the March for Science

"Though I am disheartened by the fact that there currently is a need to defend the 'vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments,' I am thrilled to see such a large and diverse group of people passionate about science, invested in the future of scientific discovery, and committed to the need for science-based policy making. ... "Science shouldn't be a partisan issue. I hope that Members on both sides of the aisle are supporting all of the goals of today's march."

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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 April 2017 - President Trump Calls the ISS

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 24 April 2017 - President Trump Calls the ISS Video in Story

Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson broke the U.S. record today for most cumulative time living in space, surpassing astronaut Jeff Williams' record of 534 days set during his four spaceflights. She passed Williams' mark at 1:27 a.m. EDT.

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