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    December 2017
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Trump Sending Astronauts Back to the Moon

President Donald Trump is sending astronauts back to the Moon.

The president Monday signed at the White House Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led, integrated program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

President Donald Trump signs the Presidential Space Directive – 1, directing NASA to return to the moon, alongside members of the Senate, Congress, NASA, and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The policy calls for the NASA administrator to “lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and international partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.” The effort will more effectively organize government, private industry, and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.

“The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery,” said President Trump. “It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.”

The policy grew from a unanimous recommendation by the new National Space Council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, after its first meeting Oct. 5. In addition to the direction to plan for human return to the Moon, the policy also ends NASA’s existing effort to send humans to an asteroid. The president revived the National Space Council in July to advise and help implement his space policy with exploration as a national priority.

Two members of the BASALT project, a NASA Mars-analog mission, conduct a high-fidelity, simulated exploration of basaltic (lava-rock) terrain. The geology of their actual location – Kilauea Iki crater on Hawaii Island – is similar to basalt-rich landscapes found on Mars (see below). This provides a good training ground for the group conducting research, designing procedures, and developing tools to make similar missions possible one day on Mars. Pictured are: Stan Love, a NASA astronaut from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and Alex Sehlke, a post-doctoral fellow at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
Credits: NASA

“Under President Trump’s leadership, America will lead in space once again on all fronts,” said Vice President Pence. “As the President has said, space is the ‘next great American frontier’ – and it is our duty – and our destiny – to settle that frontier with American leadership, courage, and values. The signing of this new directive is yet another promise kept by President Trump.”

Among other dignitaries on hand for the signing, were NASA astronauts Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson and Christina Koch. Schmitt landed on the moon 45 years to the minute that the policy directive was signed as part of NASA’s Apollo 17 mission, and is the most recent living person to have set foot on our lunar neighbor. Aldrin was the second person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. Whitson spoke to the president from space in April aboard the International Space Station and while flying back home after breaking the record for most time in space by a U.S. astronaut in September. Koch is a member of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013.

Work toward the new directive will be reflected in NASA’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request next year.

“NASA looks forward to supporting the president’s directive strategically aligning our work to return humans to the Moon, travel to Mars and opening the deeper solar system beyond,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “This work represents a national effort on many fronts, with America leading the way. We will engage the best and brightest across government and private industry and our partners across the world to reach new milestones in human achievement. Our workforce is committed to this effort, and even now we are developing a flexible deep space infrastructure to support a steady cadence of increasingly complex missions that strengthens American leadership in the boundless frontier of space. The next generation will dream even bigger and reach higher as we launch challenging new missions, and make new discoveries and technological breakthroughs on this dynamic path.”

A piece of Moon rock was brought to the White House as a reminder of the exploration history and American successes at the Moon on which the new policy will build. Lunar Sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon’s surface and returned by Schmitt’s Apollo 17 crew. Apollo 17 was the last Apollo mission to land astronauts on the Moon and returned with the greatest amount of rock and soil samples for investigation.

Lunar Sample 70215 was retrieved from the Moon’s surface and returned by NASA’s Apollo 17 crew. The sample is a basaltic lava rock similar to lava found in Hawaii. It crystallized 3.84 billion years ago when lava flowed from the Camelot Crater. Sliced off a parent rock that originally weighed 8,110 grams, the sample weighs 14 grams, and is very fine grained, dense and tough.
Credits: NASA

The sample is a basaltic lava rock similar to lava found in Hawaii. It crystallized 3.84 billion years ago when lava flowed from the Camelot Crater. Sliced off a parent rock that originally weighed 8,110 grams, the sample weighs 14 grams, and is very fine grained, dense and tough. During the six Apollo surface excursions from 1969 to 1972, astronauts collected 2,196 rock and soil samples weighting 842 pounds. Scientific studies help us learn about the geologic history of the Moon, as well as Earth. They help us understand the mineral and chemical resources available to support future lunar exploration.

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Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin Supports “Dreamers”

Attorney General Doug Chin today joined California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 18 attorneys general in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to maintain and defend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In the letter, the attorneys general explain how DACA has benefited their states and the nation as a whole and call on the President to fulfill his public commitment to Dreamers.

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Attorney General Chin said, “I am the son of immigrants. Hawaii is the most diverse state in our country – a nation founded by immigrants. A legal process has been established to ensure the almost one million Dreamers under DACA can stay in the United States and continue contributing to our country. Rescinding DACA would be senseless, cruel, and self-defeating.”

Since DACA’s inception five years ago, nearly 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to this country as children have been granted DACA status after paying application fees, submitting to and passing background checks and applying for work permits. In Hawaii, approximately 2,000 people are eligible for DACA status.

Today’s letter to President Trump states:

“Mr. President, now is the time to affirm the commitment you made, both to the ‘incredible kids’ who benefit from DACA and to their families and communities, to handle this issue ‘with heart.’ You said Dreamers should ‘rest easy.’ We urge you to affirm America’s values and tradition as a nation of immigrants and make clear that you will not only continue DACA, but that you will defend it. The cost of not doing so would be too high for America, the economy, and for these young people. For these reasons, we urge you to maintain and defend DACA, and we stand in support of the effort to defend DACA by all appropriate means.”

The letter refutes arguments set forth by those opposing DACA and threatening litigation, saying they are wrong as a matter of law and policy and urges the President not to capitulate to their demands.

The letter further states:

“DACA is consistent with a long pattern of presidential exercises of prosecutorial discretion … DACA sensibly guides immigration officials’ exercise of their enforcement discretion and reserves limited resources to address individuals who threaten our communities, not those who contribute greatly to them. Challenges have been brought against the original DACA program, including in the Fifth Circuit, but none have succeeded.”

Joining Attorneys General Chin and Becerra in sending the letter are attorneys general from: Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.

100 Days of Broken Promises: Hawai‘i Democrats to Highlight Trump’s Disastrous Administration

Tomorrow (Saturday), April 29th will mark 100 days since Inauguration Day.  So far, Trump’s first 100 days have been filled with broken promises and policies that hurt Americans in every corner of our nation.

For example:

  • Trump promised he would drain the swamp, but instead he’s filled his administration with billionaires, Wall Street bankers, lobbyists and the same Washington insiders he railed against during the campaign.
  • Trump promised better health care that would cost less and provide more benefits, but instead he backed a bill that would have thrown 24 million off of their health care and driven up premiums for older Americans, all while giving tax breaks to the wealthy.
  • Trump promised he would deliver for the “forgotten man,” but his budget would cut funding for vital services like job training, Meals on Wheels, and disease research to finance yet another tax break for the rich.
  • Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but instead he’s trying to get U.S. taxpayers to pay for it in the latest government funding bill.
  • Trump upset bipartisan negotiations to fund the government with a late-in-the-game attempt to get funding for his border wall and even threatened to hold health care for millions hostage to do so.
  • Trump promised he would get tough on outsourcing and trade, but he has failed to stand up to China and continues to hire foreign workers at his resorts like Mar-A-Lago.
  • Trump signed an executive order blocking citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, the most significant hardening of immigration policy in generations. In bringing a national halt to the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson (ruling on a challenge to the ban by Hawai‘i Attorney General Douglas Chin) wrote “The illogic of the government’s contention is palpable… The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
  • Trump’s Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, insulted Hawai‘i residents by saying (in reference to Judge Watson’s ruling) “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.” Senator Mazie Hirono responded: “Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences – including my own. Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous” and Senator Brian Schatz tweeted: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Hawai‘i Democrats will be gathering across the state to continue to #resist by marching for climate change, rallying for our ‘āina, and talking about how Trump’s broken promises, disrespect, and disastrous policies are impacting their lives.

Join us Saturday at an event below as we mark 100 days of the Trump administration’s broken promises: