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Congress has a full plate of NASA-related issues to confront this year according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). CRS specialist Daniel Morgan lays out the panoply of issues ranging from broad -- "is there a national consensus for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit, despite the inherent risks and the substantial cost" -- to narrow -- "Are the currently planned Orion and Ares vehicles the best choices for delivering astronauts and cargo into space."
CRS does not make recommendations. Instead, its job is to provide non-partisan, objective research and analysis exclusively for Members and committee of Congress. It identifies issues, provides context, and analyzes possible solutions. By law, its reports are available only to Members of Congress and their staffs and not to the public, though Members may distribute them to anyone. Many CRS reports make their way onto the Web. This one is available via the Federation of American Scientists website.
Dana Johnson, Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation at the State Department, outlined measures for addressing challenges to U. S. space security in the "global commons" in a speech to the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) last week.
Dr. Johnson is a veteran space and national security analyst who recently moved to the State Department from Northrop Grumman's Analysis Center. Previously she was at the RAND Corporation. In her new capacity, she will be working on space, missile defense, and START verification issues.
Marcia S. Smith's presentation today to the seminar on "Space Security Index 2009: The Status of and Future Trends in Space Security" is available on SpacePolicyOnline.com under "Marcia S. Smith's Biography and Recent Publications" on our left menu or by clicking here. Links to the other presentations at the seminar will be available once they are posted on the Web.
Massachusetts voters elected Republican Scott Brown as Senator, defeating Democrat Martha Coakley. In what the Associated Press called a "stunning embarrassment for the White House," the election ended the 60-seat super-majority Democrats held in the Senate that allowed them -- for one year -- to defeat Republican filibusters on a party-line vote. The impact on space-related issues is unclear since they are largely non-partisan, but it is a significant setback for other items on the Democratic agenda such as health care reform. The special election was called after the death of Senator Edward Kennedy last year. Senator Kennedy was the primary champion of health care reform in the Senate. Mr. Brown, a lawyer and former winner of the "America's Sexiest Man" award -- complete with centerfold photo -- from Cosmopolitan magazine, campaigned against health care reform, vowing to be the 41st vote against it (because he will be the 41st Republican in the Senate).
A one-day public symposium on the "state of the agency" will be held on February 12, 2010 at NASA Headquarters. The event is sponsored by the NASA Alumni League, chaired by former NASA Administrator James Beggs, as well as Women in Aerospace, the American Astronautical Society, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden is one of the speakers along with other NASA officials. The symposium will be held in the auditorium at NASA Headquarters, so seating is limited and an RSVP is required. See the announcement for RSVP and other details.
The review of U.S. export control policies ordered by President Obama in August recently was given a deadline of January 29 according to Space News. The newspaper reports that the President signed Presidential Study Directive (PSD)-8 on December 21 setting that deadline and stating that the review would be used to prepare "comprehensive" statutory and regulatory recommendations "to create a new U.S. export control system."
Matthew Borman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Administration at the Commerce Department made no mention of an upcoming deadline when he testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) last month. His formal testimony referenced only the August announcement and said the review was "well underway" and would "devise an export control system to best address diffuse threats, technology and markets of the 21st century."
House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) said today that his committee plans to pass a multi-year NASA authorization bill this spring.
The following events may be of interest this week. For more details, see our calendar on the right menu or click on the links below. Note that dates, times and witnesses for congressional hearings are subject to change. Check the committee's website for up-to-date information.
Wednesday, January 20
Wednesday-Thursday, January 20-21
Thursday, January 21
The Department of Defense (DOD) reportedly will be as much as a year late delivering the Space Posture Review (SPR) required by Congress in DOD's FY2009 authorization bill. It was supposed to be submitted to Congress by December 1, 2009. Defense News says that even though the SPR and its siblings, a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and Ballistic Missile Defense Review, were intended to inform DOD's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), neither the SPR nor NPR are ready. The publication says that the QDR nevertheless will be released along with the FY2011 President's budget request, scheduled for February 1.
As we reported earlier, the SPR is one of three recent high-level reviews of U.S. space policy initiated by Congress or the White House. The White House ordered the other two: the Review of Human Space Flight Plans, also known as the Augustine Committee, released in October; and the National Security Council-led review of U.S. space policy required by Presidential Study Directive-3, which has not been released. President Obama also has ordered a review of U.S. export control policy, which could have an impact on commercial space activities in particular.
Last week the House passed H.R. 3237, which would create a new Title of the U.S. Code for the laws that Congress already has passed regarding national and commercial space programs. Currently the space-related laws are in Title 15, Title 42 or Title 49. H.R. 3237 would group them into a new Title 51 as well as tidy them up by repealing obsolete provisions (e.g. a requirement for a report to be submitted a decade ago), correcting technical errors and making other non-substantive changes. As the bill report (H. Rept. 111-325) explains:
"In restating existing law, this bill consolidates various provisions of law which have been enacted separately over a period of many years, reorganizing them, conforming style and terminology, modernizing obsolete language, and correcting drafting errors. These changes are not intended to have substantive effect, or to impair in any way the precedential value of earlier judicial decisions or other interpretations."
Events of Interest