Category Archives: Space Science

The 2020 Trump Budget Request

NASA starts at page 97.

It’s the beginning of the end for SLS. NASA wants to do Europa on a “commercial vehicle,” plans for Block 1B are “deferred,” and they propose commercial providers for getting to and from the moon itself, which means that SLS has nothing to do except the Gateway, and it can’t do the Gateway without the new upper stage planned for Block 1B.

It will be interesting to see the Congressional response. One thing it does do is continue to flow the wasteful funding for Block 1 to the right zip codes, so Congress may not care. Culberson is gone now, and if this budget passes with that wording, it would end the legislative requirement to use SLS for Europa.

[Update a few minutes later]

This is an OMB proposal. Bridenstine had to provide lip service to SLS to get confirmed. I wonder what he’ll say when he gets called on the carpet by Congress?

[Tuesday noon update]

Yes, Dr. Stofan, NASA could get to Mars sooner, but it doesn’t need more money, it just needs to spend the money it gets more sensibly. They could get to Mars in five years if they could use the SLS/Orion budget for something useful.


[Update a while later]

But other than that, it’s had a great two years.

Save The Far Side!

This seems a little overblown to me, certainly currently.

I agree that it’s a special place in terms of radio silence, and would be a great location for very large radiotelescopes. But I don’t know many people who would want to live there, and never see the home planet. And they could do comm via lasers — no need to pollute the local “air” waves with spurious RF communications.

Ultima Thule

Congratulations to Alan Stern and the New Horizons team. The flyby appears to have been a success, we now know that it’s bilobal, and it didn’t have a light curve because the spacecraft was (coincidentally) coming toward its spin axis. Not enough data yet to know if it has a 15-hour or 30-hour period, but we’ll start getting high-res pictures tomorrow. It will take two year to download all the data, though, to give similar resolution that we got for Pluto.

[Update a while later]

High(er) res tomorrow, not high-res.