Scientists outlining four concepts for a powerful new space telescope that could launch in the 2030s this week said improvements in optics, detectors and access to huge new rockets like NASA’s Space Launch System could revolutionize the way astronomers observe potentially habitable planets, black holes, and the earliest galaxies in the universe.
President Donald Trump signed a new NASA authorization bill Tuesday, the first such space policy framework since early in the Obama administration, that largely continues the space agency’s efforts to foster a commercial economy in Earth orbit and explore deep space, with an eventual goal of landing humans on Mars.
The Trump administration is proposing $19.1 billion for NASA in its fiscal 2018 budget blueprint, a 0.8 percent decrease from 2017 funding levels, focusing on deep space exploration, both human and robotic, and increased public-private partnerships to lower costs and encourage private sector innovation.
Employees and flight hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spaceship were mostly spared after a strong tornado struck the agency’s Michoud plant in New Orleans on Tuesday, but crews planned to begin repairs immediately to plug holes in buildings housing parts and tools to build the new mega-rocket.
Kennedy Space Center officials said Tuesday that Hurricane Matthew knocked out the main cooling system for the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building and surrounding structures, but they expect no lingering effects from the storm on NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spaceship scheduled for their first full-scale test flight around the moon in 2018.