With the arrival of President Obama's 2013 budget proposal in Congress, all hell is about to break loose. There is an election in November, so no significant changes (program cuts, tax hikes) are going to be enacted this year.
But it does give us an excuse to look at ambitious new projects from NASA. None of these are likely to happen of course because the United States can't do shit anymore, but we can dream!
(Well, OK, we're still hot stuff when it comes to killing brown people with predator drones.)
You remember Stanley Kubrick's great film 2001: A Space Odyssey, right? Well, looking at the calendar, it is 2012, I am almost 59 years old—that feels very, very real—and there is no Moon Base, no big, circular, rotating Space Station and no Mission to Jupiter. (We do have spam in a can a teeny-weensy space station we can't service with the now defunct Space Shuttle. We've got to hitch a ride with the Russians!)
This also gives us an excuse to post ... oh, nevermind. Dream on, NASA, dream on.
NASA’s ambitious next-generation space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST)
The JWST has become known more for running way over budget than for the exciting and potentially groundbreaking discoveries it could make. But with funding now secured for the 2012 fiscal year, it is time to prove the naysayers wrong, project team members say. JWST has been billed as the successor to the prolific Hubble Space Telescope, but cost overruns have plagued the project, particularly in recent years.
The observatory, which is slated to launch in 2018, is now expected to cost $8.8 billion. But with funding now secure for the current fiscal year, scientists and engineers are moving ahead with the design and construction of the telescope’s components and main science instruments.
“All 18 mirror segments have now completed their testing, which is impressive,” Willoughby said. “It’s taken years to polish them and go through the testing cycle twice.”
The mirrors completed two rounds of cryogenic tests, at temperatures around 200 degrees Celsius, similar to what the telescope would experience as it orbits 1.6 million kilometers from Earth. “One of the main things that we finished this year, technically, was the completion of the mirrors,” Eric Smith said. Smith is JWST deputy program director at NASA headquarters in Washington.
The Orion Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle or MPCV is going to be the new deep space travel vehicle as the retiring now defunct Space Shuttle cannot wasn't able to leave Earth’s lower orbit.
According to a Feb. 3 memo from William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations, a team is being formed to develop a cohesive plan for exploring a spot in space known as the Earth-moon libration point 2 (EML-2).
Libration points, also known as Lagrangian points, are places in space where the combined gravitational pull of two large masses roughly balance each other out, allowing spacecraft to essentially "park" there.
A pre-memo NASA appraisal of EML-2, which is near the lunar far side, has spotlighted this destination as the "leading option" for a near-term exploration capability.
Lunar surface robotic control from an L-point habitation and operations site. Credit: Dan Lester
Bonus Video — 2001: A Space Odyssey, the original trailer (1968)