The US Senate unanimously approved a NASA Authorization Act on Friday, December 18, a symbolic move intended to set up work on a new version of the legislation in 2021. But that's not it. On the same day, Vice-President Mike Pence announced that members of the new Space Force will be known as "Guardians".
Jim Bridenstine, Administrator of NASA, tweeted about the NASA Authorization Act and wrote: "This 100-0 vote highlights the Senate's strong support for NASA and sends a clear message of bipartisan endorsement for the Artemis Program and the Human Landing System." The bill supported the exploration programs of the US space agency and extended the authorization of the International Space Station (ISS) operations through 2030.
"What we have achieved together is legislation that enjoys deep and broad bipartisan support and that sets bold goals for NASA and the United States in space," said the bill's lead sponsor, Senator Ted Cruz, chair of the Senate space subcommittee. "It provides the direction and the infrastructure necessary to meet them," he added.
Meanwhile, during a ceremony on Friday to mark the anniversary of the newest branch of the US armed forces, Pence said: "henceforth the men and women of the United States Space Force will be known as Guardians". While making the announcement, he said that along with soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, the "guardians" will also defend the country "for generations to come".
On Twitter, the official handle of the US Space Force said that "The opportunity to name a force is a momentous responsibility". It also added that "the name Guardians connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the US and its allies."
Pence's announcement came on the same day when the US astronaut, Michael S. Hopkins, currently serving as Commander on the Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon, was sworn in as the newest member of the US Space Force from the ISS. However, while the Trump administration is on its way out of power, the future of Space Force looks uncertain, as President-elect Joe Biden is yet to reveal his plans for it.
NASA Hoax Busting
Every other day conspiracy theorists share multiple stories on Earth, Moon, Sun, and doomsday asteroids on social media. Recently, a new claim appeared on online platforms that said, "NASA confirmed Earth will go dark for six days in December 2020."
This claim became viral on social media but the US space agency decided to end the rumors with a clear statement once and for all. NASA took it to Twitter and said that "busting the myth: Despite false reports, Earth will not go dark for six days, and we have not issued a statement with this misinformation".
The viral claim was made in a blog called Daily Buzz Live. It said that this week the space agency put out an alert "confirming that the world will experience total darkness between December 16 and December 22, 2020".
The website added that "the world will remain dark for these 6 days, completely void of sunlight" because of a solar storm that will cause dust and space debris to block 90 percent of the Sun. The post also advised people to stock up on flashlights, water, and food for six days. But NASA confirmed that such claims are nothing but fake news.