Our Meeting Summaries
The FAA's Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) met on October 21, 2015. COMSTAC is a federally-chartered advisory committee that provides advice to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST). SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of comments made by George Nield, FAA's Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation, regarding his position on a proposal by European Space Agency Director General Johannes-Dietrich Woerner for building a village on the Moon. Another article summarized comments by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) regarding the status of legislation on Capitol Hill. The two articles are as follows:
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot Speaks to Space Transportation Association, October 2015
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot spoke to the Space Transportation Association (STA) on Capitol Hill on October 7, 2015. His comments focused primarily on NASA's "Journey to Mars" to send people to Mars in the 2030s. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks that day.
The Secure World Foundation and the Alliance for Space Development organized a panel discussion on September 22, 2015 on Commercial LEO Space Stations: Preparing for the Future. Panelists were:
SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the panel on September 22, 2015. The overall theme is that a "seamless transition" is needed between the end of operations of the International Space Station and commercial space stations to take its place.
The American Astronautical Society organized the 4th International Space Station Research and Development (ISS R&D) conference that was held on July 7-9, 2015 in Boston, MA. In an on-stage interview by NASA ISS Program Manager Mike Suffredini on the first day, SpaceX founder Elon Musk discussed the status of the investigation of the Falcon 9 launch failure that occurred on June 28, 2015, destroying a Dragon spacecraft loaded with supplies for the ISS. Suffredini reassured conference attendees, who are users of the ISS, that the space station remains healthy despite the loss of that and two other cargo missions in the past eight months. Separately, NASA's Bill Gerstenmaier stressed that the ISS does have a finite lifetime and it is time to plan for whatever will come after it. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of that first day of the conference on July 7, 2015.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden spoke to the Space Transportation Association (STA) on May 18, 2015. The talk focused primarily on the goal of sending humans to Mars and the need for Congress and the White House to work together or the goal will never be achieved. He also discussed the disagreement between the Obama Administration and some in Congress over funding for NASA's earth science program, and many other topics. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks on May 18, 2015.
The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) considered a number of findings and recommendations during its April 9-10, 2015 meeting. Several were adopted, including a finding that the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) should be modified so that the spacecraft makes a round-trip journey to Mars instead of an asteroid. One on which consensus could not be reached concerned whether the technology development effort for sending people to Mars is adequately funded. SpacePolicyOnline.com published two articles on April 10, 2015 summarizing the actions at NAC:
In his first speech in a major public forum since the October 31, 2014 test flight accident that killed SpaceShipTwo (SS2) co-pilot Michael Alsbury, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides made clear that the company will "persevere" in its goal to open space to all. He summarized the company's progress on building a second SS2 vehicle and plans to resume test flights in 2015 and begin commercial operations in 2016. He also discussed the company's plans for the LauncherOne air-launched rocket. Whitesides spoke on January 9, 2015 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech2015 conference in Kissimmee, FL. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of his remarks on January 9, 2015.
On November 20, 2014, the Secure World Foundation (SWF) and the American Astronautical Society (AAS) sponsored a seminar on Capitol Hill to explain what space weather is and why it is important to be able to forecast extreme space weather events. Speakers from NASA, NOAA, the Air Force, the State Department and a regional transmission organization (RTO) in the electric utility industry explained the science behind space weather, forecasting efforts by the NOAA and the Air Force, practical effects on the electric power grid, and international efforts to better understand and mitigate it.
The seminar was entitled "Beyond the Flare: An AAS/SWF Briefing on Space Weather." SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the event on November 23, 2014.
Speakers at the event were:
On November 13, 2014, Tory Bruno, President of the United Launch Alliance (ULA), spoke to the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. about his views on the future of the launch services industry and transforming ULA so it remains the leading U.S. launch services provider. Part of that strategy is replacing Russia's RD-180 engine, used for ULA's Atlas V rocket, with an "American solution," Blue Origin's BE-4 engine. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of Bruno's remarks on November 14, 2014.
SpaceX Founder and Chief Designer Elon Musk was interviewed on stage by the head of MIT's department of aeronautics and astronautics, Jaime Perarie, during an October 2014 centennial celebration of the establishment of the aero/astro department. Musk's comments ranged from deeply technical to philosophical on rockets, Mars exploration, Tesla cars and hyperloops. SpacePolicyOnline.com published a summary of the space-related portions of the session on October 24, 2014.