Latest News

Klaus Heiss: In Memoriam

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 26-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

Keith Cowing at NASAWatch reports that Klaus Heiss has passed away. Dr. Heiss was an eminent space economist. Though his economic analyses were sometimes the subject of spirited debate, no one could question his enthusiasm for space exploration and conviction of its economic potential.

Events of Interest: Week of July 26-30, 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 26-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The following events may be of interest in the upcoming week. For more information, see our calendar on the right menu or click the links below. Congressional activities are subject to change. Check the relevant committee's website for up to date information.

During the Week

  • Rep. Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, said that the House may take up the NASA authorization bill (H.R. 5781) this week.

Tuesday, July 27

Wednesday, July 28

Thursday, July 29

Friday, July 30

CSIS Releases Report on the Relationship Between National Security and the Commercial Space Sector

Laura M. Delgado
Posted: 26-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) released today a report entitled National Security and the Commercial Space Sector: An Analysis and Evaluation of Options for Improving Commercial Access to Space. David Berteau, co-director of the project, said during this morning's release event that there has been a lot of interest from government in looking at this issue and that the "co-dependency" of these two sectors was not being undervalued.

The report, which builds upon a draft version released last April, includes an analysis of four options - including use of foreign launch providers, and a bigger government role in the domestic launch market - to improve commercial access to space. As related issues continue being debated on Capitol Hill over the use of commercial and foreign space assets, Mr. Berteau explained that the report provides analytical discussion of these options and does not constitute "up front endorsement" of them by CSIS or the authors of the report.

UPDATE: Markup Info for NASA, NOAA bills from Yesterday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 23-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: A link to the Senate appropriations committee report that accompanies the bill, S. 3636, has been added. The text of the bill itself has not yet been posted on Thomas.

Senate Appropriations Markup of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill for FY2011

House Science and Technology Committee Markup of NASA Authorization Bill

Senate Approps Markup of CJS Bill is at 2:30 pm Thursday; Audio of Today's Subcommittee Markup Now Available

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 22-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

The Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the FY2011 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill tomorrow (Thursday) at 2:30 pm. (Note that the committee's website says the markup begins at 2:00, but Senator Mikulski said 2:30. They are marking up three bills. ) The CJS bill includes NASA and NOAA. The audio of the CJS subcommittee's pro forma markup today is on the committee's website and a press release provides a broad overview of the subcommittee's action. The audio lasts only about 10 minutes. The one paragraph summaries from the subcommittee's press release regarding NASA and NOAA are as follows:

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) - The bill provides $19 billion for NASA, $278 million above the Fiscal Year 2010 level and equal to the President's request. The total funding includes $1.6 billion for Space Shuttle operations; $2.78 billion for Space Station operations; $3 billion for development of the next generation Crew Launch Vehicle and Crew Exploration Vehicle; $5 billion for science; and $904 million for aeronautics and space technology research. The bill restructures NASA's human spaceflight programs, providing for a new heavy lift launch vehicle and crew capsule for exploring beyond low-Earth orbit, extending the life of the International Space Station through 2020, supporting the burgeoning commercial space industry, investing in new technology development, and allowing one additional Space Shuttle flight, if determined to be safe."

"National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - The bill provides more than $5.5 billion for NOAA, $805 million above the Fiscal Year 2010 level, not including supplemental funding and the same level as the President's budget request. The Committee bill includes: $537 million for the National Ocean Service; $1.0 billion for the National Weather Service; $909 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service; $2.1 billion for satellite programs; and $449 million for Oceanic and Atmospheric research, including climate science."

House Science & Technology Committee markup underway

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 22-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

I'm at the House Science and Technology Committee markup of the NASA authorization bill. Follow me on Twitter: SpcPlcyOnline. -- Marcia

Busy Day Tomorrow for Space Policy in DC

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 22-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:12 PM)

Here's a recap of important space policy-related events in the nation's capital tomorrow, Thursday, July 22:

  • 10:00 am, House Science and Technology Committee mark up of its version of the NASA authorization bill, 2318 Rayburn
  • 12:30 pm, Stimson Center seminar on Obama space policy, 1111 19th Street, NW
  • 2:00 pm, Space Foundation seminar on Obama space policy, 555 13th Street, NW
  • 2:00 pm, Senate Appropriations Committee markup of FY2011 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill, including NASA and NOAA, 106 Dirksen (Note that CJS subcommittee chairwoman Mikulski said it was at 2:30. The committee is marking up three bills, so perhaps CJS is expected to come up at 2:30. In any case, the commitee's website says 2:00.)

Text of Senate NASA Authorization Bill Now Online

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 21-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

The text of the Senate Commerce Committee's version of the NASA authorization bill is now available on the committee's website.

UPDATE: House Version of NASA Authorization Bill Introduced; Markup on Thursday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 20-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: A very quick comparison with the Senate version of the bill has been added.

Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, has introduced the House version of the NASA authorization bill. Like the Senate bill, it is bipartisan and is cosponsored by Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX), Space and Aeronautics subcommittee chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX). It is posted on the Space and Aeronautics subcommittee's website. Full committee markup is scheduled for this Thursday.

A very quick glance through the bill reveals these differences with what is publicly known about the Senate version, the text of which has not yet been posted on the Web. This is not meant to be a comprehensive comparison.

  • The House bill creates a direct loan or loan guarantee program for companies trying to develop commercial crew capabilities
  • The House bill does not call for any additional space shuttle missions, unlike the Senate bill that would add one more mission (the Launch on Need mission)
  • The House bill is a 5-year authorization; the Senate bill is for 3 years

There are similarities, too. Both bills authorize $19 billion for NASA in FY2011, the same as the President's request. Both call for extending the International Space Station to at least 2020. Both require the development of a government-owned crew transportation system in parallel with commercial efforts, which would serve as a backup when commercial capabilities become available. Both require immediate development of a heavy lift launch capability.

Commentary: Another Apollo 11 Anniversary -- Will We Go Back?

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 20-Jul-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

Editor's Commentary

As the space community celebrates the 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the Moon today, the perennial question of whether or when American astronauts will return to the lunar surface remains as open as ever.

President Obama said on April 15 at Kennedy Space Center that putting people on the Moon, basically is, like, sooo 20th Century. Instead, asteroids should be the next destination for human spaceflight in his view. The Senate and House each have NASA authorization bills, however, that do not preclude a return to the Moon. In fact, returning to the Moon is already the law of the land. The 2005 NASA authorization act directs NASA to "develop a sustained human presence on the Moon" and the 2008 NASA authorization act reaffirms the 2005 law, as well as broadening it to include other destinations beyond low Earth orbit. Back to the Moon, or not? Which end of Pennsylvania Avenue will win the day this time?

Perhaps the most stressful aspect of this anniversary is that the debate remains unresolved four decades later. Whiplashing from one set of goals to another seems the best that policy-makers can do.

Setting that aside, congratulations to Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins, and all who made the Apollo 11 mission and those that followed it possible. While the policy community seems unable to make a decision that sticks, the engineers and scientists of Apollo turned a dream into reality in just 8 years.

Events of Interest    

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


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