Space Budgets, Policy, Missions, Benefits, International Updates

Human Space Exploration Update (July 10-28, 2017)

US-Russian, Space and Sanctions:  Russia sanctions bill clears Congress  NASA activities with Russia and space launches conducted for NASA are exempted from Senate legislation imposing sanctions against Russia. The measure matches legislation approved by the House. The legislation, if signed by the president, will impose sanctions against Russian individuals and entities due to Russia’s interventions in Ukraine and for “undermining cybersecurity.”  Russia is the only International Space Station partner capable of transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Imported Russian rocket engines power Atlas 5 and Antares launch vehicles that carry out NASA contracted missions.

Mars Exploration:  Humans on Mars in 2033: A bipartisan vision  Support from both major political parties led to passage, as well as President Trump’s signature, of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 in March. It’s time to support the legislation’s call for a human presence of Mars by 2033 with modest spending increases, write Explore Mars executives Chris Carberry and Rick Zucker in an op ed. “Now is not the time to be timid,” according to the two men. “It is time for NASA and its industrial and international partners to truly enable humans to walk on the Martian surface within the next 16 years.”  (See also:  Mars rover concept vehicle tours this planet and To prepare for Mars settlement, simulated missions explore Utah’s desert)

Deep Space Gateway: NASA is building a prototype for a habitat in deep space by recycling an old cargo container Donatello, an aging one time cargo carrier designed for flight aboard NASA’s space shuttle to deliver supplies to the International Space Station, will be converted into a ground based mockup of a deep space habitat for astronauts by Lockheed Martin. Working under a NASA contract, Lockheed will carry out the project at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center over the next 18 months. The effort could advance plans by NASA to establish a Deep Space Gateway, or lunar orbital habitat, during the mid-2020s. (See also:  Shuttle-era cargo module to become deep space habitat prototype and Giving a push for in-space propulsion)

America Great Again in Space: Trump administration is making America a leader in space again  Early moves by the Trump White House, including budgets and a re-established National Space Council, offer encouragement for future human deep space exploration as well as a growing presence in low Earth orbit, writes Doug Cooke, an aerospace consultant and Coalition for Deep Space Exploration board member. However, as program plans mature, budgets must increase to meet objectives. NASA must also strive for new organizational efficiencies while continuing to meet demanding technical requirements and maintaining basic safety, Cooke adds in an op-ed.

China and Space:  In Beijing, China rolls out the red carpet and a comprehensive space plan  Chinese presentations before the June meeting of the Global Space Exploration Conference in Beijing revealed a clear direction and high level backing for a range of space activities. They include a staffed Earth orbiting space station, with a core module launch planned for 2019, and a human lunar presence by 2030. Robotic missions to Mars include an independent robotic mission in 2020 and a planned sample return by 2030.

Citizens for Space Exploration – a pro-space, taxpayer, grassroots advocacy group Citizens Space Explorateion_logo( – has traveled to Washington, D.C. the past 24 years to meet face-to-face with Members/staff of Congress to discuss the value of America’s investment in space exploration. In order to sustain that dialogue on a regular basis, Citizens distributes “Space Exploration Update” to Congressional offices on a weekly basis. The intent is to provide an easy, quick way to stay abreast of key human space exploration program and policy developments.