We helped launch the new Planetary Science Congressional Caucus in Washington, D.C., with an exploration exhibition to highlight the range of academic, scientific, and industry partners engaging in planetary exploration. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye and its Board of Directors were there to welcome members of Congress and hundreds of staff and policy experts.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy is not just for big payloads, it can also throw light things into space very fast. And that has significant implications for the exploration of distant destinations in our outer solar system—particularly the ocean moons of the giant planets.
The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, funding the U.S. government for the remainder of the fiscal year. NASA got a boost to $19.65 billion, and its Planetary Science Division saw a budget increase to $1.846 billion—its best budget in more than ten years.
China released a new white paper on its policy and activities in space, outlining ambitious deep space exploration, human spaceflight and space science projects as major priorities for the years up to 2020 and beyond.
SpaceX's plans to colonize Mars differ considerably from NASA's Journey to Mars ambitions. But direct comparison is difficult. SpaceX is able to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with a bold new approach to humans in space. NASA has no such luxury, and must use existing pieces and people to make their goals a reality.
A difficult but necessary decision by ESA and Roskosmos to postpone the launch of the ExoMars rover from 2018 to 2020 raises a question about the fate of other planetary exploration programs in the pipelines of both space agencies.