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Joanne Padr n Carney, Director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science's (AAAS's) Center for Science, Technology and Congress, said today that the results of the mid-term Congressional elections would bring a number of new faces to the House Science and Technology Committee. Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), have reportedly expressed interest in assuming the leadership spots in the Committee, a change that Padr n Carney said could mean NASA will become a "high priority" for Congress in the next session.
Her comments were made during a AAAS webinar Election 2010: What Do the U.S. Mid-term Elections Mean for Science?, which covered issues such as R&D funding, energy, and biomedical policy and research. Padr n Carney identified several issues impacting the legislative process, including increased oversight, which Representative Hall has said would be one of his priorities. This could have a direct impact on the future of NASA human spaceflight, she suggested.
The Space Show, hosted by Dr. David Livingston, will interview SpacePolicyOnline.com correspondent Laura Delgado on November 19, 2010 at 9:30 am PST (12:30 pm EST). The hour and a half show will focus on Ms. Delgado's recent paper for AIAA's Space2010 conference and an associated Space News blog on differing perceptions of space commercialization.
Her analysis points to a "gap" between the space policy community's generally accepted notion of a bright space future that combines government and commercial efforts (though not all agree on timing) and a very different perception the public may hold based on the depiction of corporations in science fiction movies.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) will chair a hearing next week to look at how NASA can pay for the program outlined in the newly enacted 2010 NASA Authorization Act if the agency does not get more funding. The hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's subcommittee on Science and Space is on November 18, 2010 at 10:00 in 253 Russell Senate Office Building.
Florida Today quotes Senator Nelson as saying that he wants to find out from NASA's Chief Financial Officer, Beth Robinson, what NASA will do if the agency is level-funded next year -- "'We want to know: Is she going to follow the law instead of them going off on their own making decisions that are contrary to the law?'" The newspaper reports that other witnesses will be Presidential science adviser John Holdren and someone from the Government Accountability Office. The committee's website does not list the witnesses as of yet.
The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) is scheduled to vote on Gen. C. Robert Kehler's nomination to be the new commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) on Thursday, November 18, at 9:30 am. Gen. Kehler has been serving as commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSC), and would replace Gen. Kevin Chilton, who is retiring. Kehler is following in Chilton's footsteps, who also moved up from commanding AFSC to leading USSTRATCOM.
An independent review of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) demanded by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) has concluded that the program's cost has grown to $6.5 billion and the earliest it can launch is September 2015. This compares to the current projected cost of $5.1 billion and launch date of 2014. The report was released by NASA today (November 10, 2010). The head of the review team, John Casani, summarized the findings in a letter to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, faulting the project's "budgeting and program management, not technical performance."
In response, Mr. Bolden issued a statement that he is reorganizing the management of the program both at NASA headquarters and at Goddard Space Flight Center:
The Department of Defense (DOD) has little insight into the effectiveness of its attempts to commercialize space-related technologies developed through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Although DOD has invested "about 11 percent of its fiscal years 2005-2009 R&D funds through its SBIR program to address space-related technology needs," department officials could not tell GAO how many of the technologies resulting from the nearly 500 space-related contracts during that period had transitioned into acquisition programs or the commercial sector. GAO also stated that DOD officials acknowledge that the department does not have "overarching guidance" for the SBIR program.
President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission released a draft of its report today. One of the areas of federal spending it recommends cutting is the government's proposed subsidy of commercial crew.
That recommendation is the only one out of 54 examples of "illustrative savings" the commission identified in its draft document that directly impacts space activities. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is due to make its final recommendations on December 1.
The following events may be of interest in the coming week. For more information, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below.
Sunday, November 7
Monday-Wednesday, November 8-10
Space Shuttle Discovery's last flight will wait until the next launch window, which opens on November 30. The current window closes on Monday and NASA needs more time to analyze the gas leak that scrubbed yesterday's launch attempt as well as a crack in the foam of the external tank that developed as the tank was being emptied after the scrub.
Here are links to other views about the impact of the election on NASA on various websites and other news sources.
Events of Interestl