Latest News

NASA's Market Assessment of Commercial Crew and Cargo

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 18-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

NASA has submitted its market assessment for commercial crew and cargo systems. It was prepared in response to a requirement in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

Key Senators Send Bipartisan Letter Criticizing NASA Implementation of Law

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 18-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

The top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden today criticizing the agency's implementation of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

The chairmen of the full committee and of the Science and Space Subcommittee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and their Republican counterparts, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) charged that NASA "has not made sufficient progress in carrying out the changes" required by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act and "has not adequately complied with a number of reporting requirements" in that Act.

The five-page letter goes on to detail the Senators' concerns about the pace with which NASA is proceeding with the direction in the law to build a new crew transportation system and requests that a senior agency official "who has first hand knowledge of NASA's efforts to implement policy changes" in the law brief them every two weeks beginning the week of May 30, 2011. It then requests specific information about the reports that were required by the law, such as the names of the senior NASA officials(s) responsible for preparing, reviewing and approving them, various related studies that were "purportedly" presented to NASA while the reports were underway, and copies of all documents and communications, including emails, discussing different aspects of the reports.

The Senators also request very specific information about NASA's work on the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System required by the Act.

The subcommittee held a hearing today on the relevance of the space program to national imperatives. During the hearing, Sen. Hutchison, in particular, voiced continued concern that NASA is not implementing the law. A summary of the hearing will be posted soon.

Senate Commerce Releases Witness List for Tomorrow's Hearing

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has posted the witness list for tomorrow's hearing on Contributions of Space to National Imperatives.

The witnesses are:

  • Elliot Pulham, Space Foundation
  • Frank Slazer, Aerospace Industries Association
  • Chris Chyba, Princeton University
  • Frank Culbertson, former astronaut (he is currently with Orbital Sciences Corp.)

The hearing is at 10:30 am in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.

Paul Dembling, Noted Space Lawyer, Passes Away

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

Paul Dembling, a highly respected lawyer renowned for his role in helping to craft the 1958 National Aeronautics and Space Act (NASA Act), passed away on May 16 according to NASA.

Mr. Dembling was the general counsel to NASA's predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and along with other experts, including Eilene Galloway at Congress's Legislative Reference Service (now the Congressional Research Service), drafted the law that created NASA. He served in several capacities at NASA -- as general counsel, head of Legislative Affairs, and Deputy Associate Administrator.

He retired from NASA in 1969. Later he was the general counsel of the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) and after that was in private practice.

He recounted his role in drafting the NASA Act in an interview for NASA's 50th anniversary magazine as well as in a 2001 oral interview for his alma mater, George Washington University (GWU). At that time he donated his professional papers to GWU's law library.

House Subcommittee to Look Into Commercial Cargo Status

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 17-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

Next week, a House subcommittee will hold a hearing on whether the companies that intend to provide commercial cargo services for the International Space Station will be ready to fulfill that role.

On May 26, the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will hear from NASA, GAO, and the two companies that plan to offer commercial cargo services, SpaceX and Orbital Sciences. The topic is "NASA's Commercial Cargo Providers: Are They Ready to Supply the Space Station in the Post-Shuttle Era?" Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Flight, will represent the agency. Gwynne Shotwell and Frank Culbertson will be there on behalf of SpaceX and Orbital, respectively. Cristina Chaplain will testify for the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The hearing starts at 10:00 am EDT in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building.

U.S. Reaches Debt Ceiling, No Immediate Impact

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner announced this morning that the United States has reached the legal limit of how much debt it can incur. Just weeks ago, the imminent breach of the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling was the source of political angst in Washington, but Geithner is keeping the government solvent until August 2 by not contributing the government's share to certain government retirement accounts.

In a letter to Congress, Geithner notified the congressional leadership that Treasury will not "invest fully" in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund or the Government Securities Investment Fund (the "G" Fund) of the Federal Employees' Retirement System. He said those accounts would be "made whole once the debt limit is increased."

He stated that, as required by law, he has determined that a "debt issuance suspension period" begins today and will run until August 2, by which time he hopes Congress will have raised the debt limit.

Democrats and Republicans are far apart, or close to agreement, on how to deal with the deficit depending on who is speaking at any particular moment in time.

Events of Interest: Week of May 16-20, 2011

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The following events may be of interest in the week ahead. For more information, check our calendar on the right menu or click the links below. Times, dates and witnesses for congressional hearings are subject to change; check the committee's website for up to date information. The House is in recess this week; the Senate is in session.

Monday, May 16

Tuesday, May 17

Wednesday, May 18

  • Senate Commerce Committee Hearing on Contributions of Space to National Imperatives, 253 Russell Senate Office Building, 10:30 am EDT (as listed in the National Journal's Daybook)
  • CSIS meeting on GPS and Lightsquared, 1800 K Street, N.W., Washington, DC, 2:00-3:30 pm EDT

Wednesday-Friday, May 18-20

Wednesday-Sunday, May 18-22

Friday, May 20

Endeavour Reaches Orbit

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The STS-134 mission is underway. Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off on schedule at 8:56 am EDT and is now in orbit. A post-launch press conference is scheduled for no earlier than 10:00 am EDT. It can be watched on NASA TV.

Endeavour Post-Launch Press Conference Beginning

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 16-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

NASA's press conference about the Endeavour launch is just starting. Watch on NASA TV.

Endeavour Still on Schedule for Launch Monday Morning

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-May-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

Space Shuttle Endeavour remains on schedule for launch at 8:56 am EDT tomorrow, Monday, May 16. The STS-134 mission is Endeavour's last. Its April 29 scheduled launch was delayed because of technical problems that have been resolved.

The 16-day mission will take the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer science instrument and other equipment and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

Only one space shuttle mission remains after this one, the launch of Atlantis (STS-135). A tentative launch date for Atlantis has been June 28, but because of the delay to STS-134, STS-135 is expected to slip as well.

Events of Interest      

Full calendar of future events (with filters)-click here »


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