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Inside Space (Nov 7th, 2017)

In an interview this week, Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, said a human mission to Mars under the Trump administration is a "horizon goal" — effectively delaying the plan to focus on a return to the moon. "I became very much a critic of the [Obama administration's] Mars and asteroid–oriented policy, but not because I think Mars and asteroids aren’t great missions — they are. They are inspiring, and they offer some great science. But they were so ambitious that they really didn’t provide opportunities for international or commercial partnerships, and therefore I would argue they were actually contrary to U.S. national interests. And the reason we do space is not simply to do it, but to advance U.S. national interests," Pace said. For the United States to be a "global leader" in space, Pace said the country should focus on projects that are "challenging and realistic — but which also allow for meaningful international partnership and private sector participation." — SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

Q&A: Plotting U.S. Space Policy with White House Adviser Scott Pace

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Researchers are finding new ways to measure how dense distant stars are with help from their alien planets. "It's really weird that a planet that's orbiting far away from the star can tell us anything about the star's interior — I think that's really bizarre but cool," astronomer Emily Sandford said. Researchers use very precise measurements of dimmings — or the amount of light that is unseen as a planet passes in front — to determine density of a star. — SPACE

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During a fundraising trip to California last month, Vice President Pence met with entrepreneur Elon Musk, where the two talked about the National Space Council. The two met in a Los Angeles hotel. Musk, of course, is vested in space exploration and is the founder of SpaceX, which advanced rocket technology. Earlier this year, Musk stepped down from presidential councils he served on after President Trump backed out of the Paris climate accord. — CNN

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Since "(486958) 2014 MU69" doesn't easily roll off the tongue, NASA is seeking the public's help to name an object in the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune. New Horizons spacecraft is expected to fly by the object Jan. 1, 2019. And, researchers think the object either is shaped like a rubber duck or could be two objects. Members of the public can submit suggestions, which then will be pared to a smaller set of names that will go up for vote. The period to submit names ends at 3 p.m. (EST) Dec. 1. Voting will take place in January. The spacecraft made history two years ago when it had an up-close look at Pluto. — THE VERGE

Artist's concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flying by 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019

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United States astronauts might soon have to hitch more rides from Russia to get to the International Space Station due to crew capsule designs. Boeing and SpaceX each are facing technical challenges. "For Boeing, these include issues related to the effects of vibrations from intense sound waves generated during launch and challenges regarding vehicle mass. For SpaceX, delays resulted from a change in capsule design to enable a water-based rather than ground-based landing and related concerns that the capsule would take on excessive water," according to a report released Monday by the NASA Office of Inspector General. At a cost of $490 million for six seats, NASA previously had extended its dependence on Russian rides to the space station through 2018. — AL.COM

The SpaceX launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. (SpaceX)

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International space station or dorm room floor?

Talking via a ham radio from space, Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli told 11 kids between the ages of 7 and 12 at the South Florida Science Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday that astronauts don't do laundry.

Nespoli also told the crowd the astronauts really only change clothes once they can't stand to be in them anymore. Eww.

Of course, the crowd laughed. But it begs the question ... what happens to all of that laundry? In 2014, a NASA study looked at extending the life of the clothing astronauts wear. A six-person crew can have more than 900 pounds of clothing for a six-month mission.

A 2003 NASA post offered three main ways astronauts deal with dirty clothes: wear it again (eww!), burn it up in Earth's atmosphere, and grow plants in it (no, that's not a joke).

Is there a Febreze scent for space?

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