SpacePolicyOnline.com Latest News
A personal email from former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin to friends expressing his views about the Augustine committee report found its way onto some space-related websites last week. SpacePolicyOnline.com decided to wait for Dr. Griffin's official views as expressed in his testimony today to the House Science and Technology Committee. They are much the same. His key argument is that the best option is to restore funding for the Constellation program rather than set off on a different course. He adds that, if necessary, development of the Altair lunar lander could be postponed and the Ares V/Orion combination could embark on some of the "Flexible Path" missions discussed in the Augustine report until funding for Altair becomes available.
Two days of congressional hearings on the Augustine committee report on the future of the human space flight program begin this afternoon.
Haven't had time to read the Augustine committee's report? Read our 1-page summary.
George Washington University's Space Policy Institute will hold a half day seminar looking at the Augustine committee's report on options for the human space flight program: September 28, 8:15 am -12:30 pm, 1957 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 7th floor conference room. Seating is limited so an RSVP is required (firstname.lastname@example.org). See the agenda below.
8:15 A.M. Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 A.M. Welcome and Introductory Remarks
9:20 A.M. Panel 1: Setting the Context for NASA
10:20 A.M. Coffee Break
10:40 A.M. Panel 2: Science and International Relations
11:30 A.M. Panel 3: Security and Commerce
12:20 P.M. Closing Remarks
12:30 P.M. Lunch
As reported on NASAWatch, Assaf Ramon, son of Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, was killed in the crash of a fighter jet in Hebron, Israel yesterday. Ilan Ramon perished in the space shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003, Now his son, Assaf, has died in the crash of an F-16 plane he was piloting; an investigation is underway.
After many years of discussion, China has begun construction of a new space launch site in Wenchang city on the island of Hainan according to China Daily. At 19 degrees north latitude, it will be the southern-most of the country's space launch facilities. China is building a new launch vehicle, the Long March 5, that is expected to make its debut at Hainan in 2014.
The Long March 5 (CZ-5) will have a 25 ton to low Earth orbit (LEO) payload capability -- in the same class as the U.S. Delta 4 Heavy, space shuttle, and Ares I (under development). China Daily reported that the Hainan launch site would be used for geostationary launches, space station launches, and launches of deep space probes. It also could be used for Chinese human spaceflight launches beyond LEO.
Don't have time to read the Augustine committee's report before the hearings this week? Read our concise 1-page fact sheet summarizing its key points. Find it on our left menu under "Our Fact Sheets and Reports" or click here.
Armadillo Aerospace succeeded yesterday in completing the necessary flights to qualify for a $1 million prize in NASA's Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge according to the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
Two other companies plan to compete for the prize before the October 31 deadline, so Armadillo has not yet officially won. Nonetheless, its Scorpius launch vehicle did what was needed to qualify as a winner: ascend to a height of 50 meters, translate to a pad 50 meters away, land safely on a rocky surface after at least 180 seconds of flight time, and then repeat the flight. The prize is part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program and is managed by the X-Prize Foundation.
We have just updated three of our fact sheets to reflect recent congressional and other actions:
All are available from our left menu under "Our Fact Sheets and Reports."
NPR's Science Friday interviewed Lawrence Krauss yesterday. He is the author of the provocative New York Times op-ed arguing for sending astronauts on one-way trips to Mars. His premise is that historically people traveled to new lands with no expectation of returning home and this should be no different. It would save money and one need not worry about their surviving the damaging health effects of cosmic radiation. Dr. Krauss is author of The Physics of "Star Trek," and Director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University.
The following events may be of interest next week. See our calendar for more information. Note: dates, times and witnesses for congressional hearings are subject to change. Check the committee's website for up-to-date information.
AIAA Space 2009 Conference and Exposition
Hearings on the Augustine Committee Report
Mark-up of the Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act (possible)
Note: The committee has a markup session scheduled on Wednesday (time and location not listed). Congress Daily (subscription required) reports that it will include markup of the Judiciary Committee's version of the Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act, however it is not currently included on the list of items for consideration on the committee's website.
Events of Interest