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Mary Glackin, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told the 2010 International Commercial Remote Sensing Symposium (ICRSS) on Wednesday that commercial remote sensing policy was an important aspect of the ongoing review of U.S. national space policy. Ms. Glackin spoke of the increasing demand for commercial data and referred to the guiding principles of remote sensing policy in the 2006 National Space Policy. She said that while it is too early to provide details of the new Obama space policy, in time the industry would see that they would provide support.
In addition to data obtained through international partnerships -- including synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data from Canada -- NOAA relies on data procured commercially from U.S. companies. "We need this commercial sector with us," said Glackin.
NOAA is not only a consumer of data, but also the regulatory agency for the commercial remote sensing business. In response to questions about why NOAA is taking so long to respond to changes in the commercial sector that call for softening resolution restrictions on synthetic aperture radar satellites and allegations that NOAA is "dropp[ing] the ball here," Ms. Glackin began by saying, "I could just say yes." She added that the United States was "a nation at war," a factor that contributed to the delay in revising the policy and that "the Secretary [of Commerce] understands what this means for competitiveness." She alluded to policies that may be revised in the new version of national space policy that will ensure the U.S. commercial sector can keep moving forward.
The issue of balancing national security concerns - which drive government restrictions on the resolution of data commercial remote sensing providers are allowed to provide - while supporting innovation and growth in commercial remote sensing will be the topic of discussion in an ICRSS expert panel Thursday. ICRSS runs from March 3 to March 5 and is being held at the Reagan Building in Washington, DC. For more information, see the website for the event.
The 2007 editions of the Journal of Space Law are now available for free online. Journal editor Joanne Gabrynowicz notes that online access to the Journal is free for issues more than three years old and the collection dates back to 1973 when the journal started. More recent editions are available by subscription.
A NASA radar that orbited the Moon on India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe has provided more evidence that there is water at the lunar poles. NASA's Mini-SAR instrument (also known as Mini-RF), a lighweight synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters at the Moon's north pole that have water ice, according to NASA.
The data are in addition to readings made at the Moon's south pole in 2009 by NASA's LCROSS probe, and data from another NASA instrument on Chandrayaan-1, the Moon Mineraology Mapper, that showed that there are trace amounts of water all over the lunar surface.
India's Chandrayaan-1 probe carried 11 scientific instruments from India and several other countries including the United States. The probe entered lunar orbit in November 2008 and was intended to send back data for two years. However, India lost contact with it in August 2009. Fortunately it had already had collected and transmitted back a substantial amount of data.
A SpacePolicyOnline.com summary of the Feb. 25, 2010 House Science and Technology Committee's hearing on the NASA's FY2011 budget request is now available. Find it on our left menu under "Our Hearing Summaries" or simply click here.
Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) relented late on Tuesday and allowed the Senate to proceed to vote on legislation that would extend until the end of this month a number of expiring laws that affected everything from unemployment benefits to satellite television signals. The Senate voted 78-19 to pass the bill (H.R. 4691). The House already has passed it and the President is expected to sign it quickly. The Senate still must deal with longer term extensions of each of those laws or a similar situation could arise as March 31 approaches.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, has introduced legislation to "close the gap in U.S. spaceflight." A press release on the committee's website explains that the bill would continue space shuttle launches as work on a new system continues. The bill's key points as stated in the press release are:
- Make shuttle retirement dependent on the availability of replacement capabilities for comparable size crew and cargo delivery, whether government-owned or commercial, (assuming a rate of 2 missions a year), or until it is conclusively demonstrated that it is the space shuttle cargo capabilities are not needed to ensure space station viability;
- Require International Space Station (ISS) operations and full utilization through at least 2020, and further establish the ISS National Laboratory operating mechanisms and procedures;
- Provide for the acceleration of a government-owned human space flight capability to as close to 2015 as possible;
- Expand support for Commercial Orbital Space Transportation (COTS) to support ISS -- both for cargo and for eventual crew launch capability;
- Reaffirm long-term goal of moving beyond low-Earth orbit whether to the Moon, Mars or alternative destinations;
- Provide for the near-term evaluation of heavy-lift rocket launcher design options, including shuttle-derived options, to enable the expansion beyond low-earth orbit and accelerate the start of vehicle design activity; and
- Authorize top-level funding for all of NASA's mission activities, but would only address the human space flight policy issues.
The following presentations were made to the Survey Committee of the National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey during its meeting on Feb. 22-23, 2010 in Irvine, CA. Titles are from the agenda for the meeting. The slides from some of the presentations are not yet available and will be added later if possible. Some of the presentations are large and take a moment or two to load; please be patient.
- Availability of Launch Vehicles, Warren Frick, Orbital Sciences
- Aerocapture, Tom Spilker, JPL, and Michelle Monk, NASA Langley Research Center
- SEP for Outer Solar System Missions, John Brophy, JPL and Eric Pencil, NASA Glenn Research Center
- Planetary Balloons, Julian Nott, Nott Technology, LLC, and Jeff Hall, JPL
- Status of NASA's Solar System Exploration Program, James Green, NASA Headquarters
- Mars Exploration Status Report, Doug McCuistion, NASA Headquarters
- Mars Sample Return: Science Overview, Phil Christensen, Arizona State University
- Mars Sample Return: Architecture Overview, Fuk Li, JPL
- Mars Sample Return: Technology Issues, Samad Hayati, JPL
- Status of Instrumentation Technologies, Chris Webster, JPL
- Enabling Foundations for NASA's Space Science Missions, Lennard Fisk, University of Michigan
The presentations from most of the speakers to the Feb. 22-23 meeting of the National Research Council's (NRC's) Planetary Science Decadal Survey in Irvine, CA are now available at SpacePolicyOnline.com. See our "National Research Council" category on our left menu and scroll down to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey or click here.
Andy Pasztor in today's Wall Street Journal says that NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden "was surprised at the anger evident" at last week's congressional hearings before a Senate Commerce subcommittee and the House Science and Technology Committee. The article asserts that Mr. Bolden's "policies as well as his management style are under increasing attack," but also quotes an unnamed NASA spokesman as saying that he has not "'seen any evidence of [Mr. Bolden] being concerned about his ability' to effectively lead the agency."
The Senate's failure to pass the temporary extension to satellite TV legislation (H.R. 4691) last week could mean that 2 million satellite TV subscribers will lose access to broadcast network television programming according to Congress Daily (subscription required). It also has significant ramifications in other sectors of the economy.
Transportation Secretary LaHood said that 2,000 federal workers will have to be furloughed immediately because surface transportation programs were not extended, along with implications for Medicare payments to physicians, COBRA insurance benefits, etc. Senate Jim Bunning (R-TX) is refusing to agree to a unanimous request to pass the bill because it does not pay for itself.
On the satellite TV front, Congress Daily reported that the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees -- which have jurisdiction over this aspect of the satellite TV legislation -- sent a letter to DirecTV and other satellite TV providers asking them to continue providing service to those subscribers while Congress tries to solve the problem.
SkyReport, a daily newsletter about the commercial satellite business, bitterly asked "is there anyone, anywhere who has any respect left for the U.S. Congress?...This isn't brain surgery. Or health care legislation. Or even a particularly tough crossword puzzle. This is basic, BASIC stuff and they can't get it passed."
Events of Interest
- Satellite 2014, March 10-13, 2014, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
- Space Policy & History Forum Featuring Anatoly Zak on Russia's Space Program, March 10, 2014, National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC (RSVP is REQUIRED in advance to enter this area of the museum), 4:00 pm ET
- Soyuz TMA-10M landing, March 10, 2014, Kazakhstan, 11:24 pm ET (NASA TV landing coverage begins at 10:15 pm ET)
- WSBR Silent Auction and Luncheon Featuring Tom Ingersoll, Skybox Imaging, March 11, 2014, Washington Convention Center (in conjunction with Satellite 2014), 11:30 am - 1:30 pm ET
- ISU-DC Space Café Featuring Avascent's Royce Dalby, March 11, 2014, The Science Club, Washington, DC, 7:00 pm ET
- NAC Planetary Sci Sbcmte, March 12, 2014, NASA HQ, Washington, DC, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm ET
- SASC Hrg on Military Space Programs, March 12, 2014, 222 Russell Senate Office Building, 2:30 pm ET
- House Approps Defense Sbcmte Hrg on FY2015 DOD Budget Req, March 13, 2014, 2359 Rayburn House Office Building, 10:00 am ET
- HASC Hrg on FY2015 Budget Request for the Air Force, March 14, 2014, 2118 Rayburn House Office Building, 9:00 am ET
Full calendar of future events (with filters)-click here »
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