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Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that authorizes NASA activities, took to the floor of the Senate Tuesday to both praise and criticize President Obama's FY2011 budget request for NASA.
The praise was for the addition of $6 billion to the NASA budget over the next five years, extension of the U.S. commitment to the International Space Station to 2020, and increasing technology development for a new heavy lift launch vehicle. However, he strongly criticized the President's decision to cancel the Constellation program and urged the President to "repair the image" that he is killing the human space flight program.
Emphasizing that only Presidents can set the vision for the U.S. space program, Senator Nelson called on the President to set a goal of human exploration of Mars, noting that the New York Times endorsed that goal in a recent editorial. He argued for continued tests of the Ares I rocket as a precursor to whatever heavy lift launch vehicle is developed. He concluded by saying --
"I urge the White House to start listening to some of their most vigorous supporters in the Congress. I can tell you other Members on both sides of the aisle are not pleased with the way the President's message about the future of human spaceflight has been received. If we can work together, we can get the perception of our space exploration back on track."
The video of his remarks and a transcript are available on C-SPAN's website. A statement on the Senator's website says that his subcommittee (the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee) will hold a hearing on this issue on February 24.
Representative Vern Ehlers (R-Mich) announced today that he will not seek re-election. One of the few scientists in Congress, Rep. Ehlers is an influential and well-respected voice on the House Science and Technology Committee.
Rep. Ehlers has a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of California-Berkeley and after 6 years of research and teaching there, moved back home to Grand Rapids, MI to teach physics at Calvin College (where he had started his undergraduate studies). He served in the Michigan legislature, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1993. The 76-year-old Congressman said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Media reports say that his wife suffered a heart attack last week. They also note that another Republican has decided to challenge him in the primary.
The New York Times editorial page commented on NASA's new plan today. Bottom line: "If done right, the president's strategy could pay off handsomely. If not, it could be the start of a long, slow decline from the nation's pre-eminent position as a space-faring power."
Another victim of the Washington snowstorms: organizers have decided to postpone the day-long "State of the Agency" seminar at NASA that had been scheduled for Friday, Feb. 12. A new date will be announced in due course.
The remarkable winter storms hitting Washington, DC have led to postponment of much of Congress' work this week. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees, House Appropriations Committee, and House Science and Technology Committee have postponed or cancelled their planned hearings this week.
Arlington, VA, home of SpacePolicyOnline.com, got 25 inches of snow on Friday and Saturday. Roads are barely passable today (Tuesday). Another 10-20 inches of snow are forecast for this afternoon through tomorrow night.
UPDATE 2: The February 12 "State of the Agency" meeting has been postponed. The FAA Commercial Space Transportation conference is still a "go" according to the AIAA website.
UPDATE: All of the congressional hearings listed below have been postponed or cancelled because of the snowstorms hitting Washington, DC.
ORIGINAL STORY: The following events may be of interest in the coming week. For more details, see our calendar on the right menu or click on the links below. Note that times, dates and witnesses for congressional hearings are subject to change. Check with the relevant committee's website for up to date information. All times are EST. All locations are Washington, DC unless otherwise noted.
Monday, February 8
- Rescheduled launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour, 4:14 am, Kennedy Space Center, FL
Tuesday, February 9
- POSTPONED: Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the FY2011 budget request for the Air Force, 9:30 am, Room G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
- POSTPONED: House Rules Committee meets to formulate a rule on H.R. 2701, the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2010, 5:00 pm, H-313 Capitol. The deadline for submitting amendments was revised to February 10, so it is obvious that the meeting will not take place today even though it is still listed on the committee's website.
Wednesday, February 10
Wednesday-Thursday, February 10-11
Thursday, February 11
Friday, February 12
- POSTPONED: "State of the Agency" all day seminar on NASA's FY2011 budget request, sponsored by the NASA Alumni League, WIA, and AAS, NASA Headquarters Auditorium. RSVP required.
UPDATE: The main engines have burned out, the External Tank has separated, and Endeavour is in orbit!
ORIGINAL STORY: The space shuttle Endeavour lifted off on its STS-130 mission at 4:14 am on February 8. The shuttle is taking the Tranquility module and the Cupola to the International Space Station (ISS).
Representative John Murtha (D-PA), the powerful chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, has died according to the Associated Press. He had been hospitalized because of complications following gall bladder surgery.
UPDATE: NASA will try again tomorrow (Monday) morning at 4:14 am to launch Endeavour.
The launch of space shuttle Endeavour (STS-130) was scrubbed this morning because of weather. The next opportunity to launch is 4:14 am EST tomorrow according to Spaceflightnow.com, but a new launch time has not yet been announced by NASA..
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden held a press conference yesterday (Saturday) at Cape Canaveral in advance of the shuttle Endeavour launch (now rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 4:14 am). General Bolden apologized to the NASA workforce and members of Congress on Capitol Hill for not better preparing them for the dramatic changes announced in the NASA FY2011 budget. He said it was "screwed up" because he did not listen to his advisers about how to roll out the news, and consequently he learned a hard lesson. In answer to a question, he said that his hope is to have a heavy lift launch vehicle in the next couple of decades, preferably in the 2020-2030 time frame. A video of the press conference is available on NASA's YouTube channel.
Events of Interest
- IEEE Aerospace Conference, March 1-8, 2014, Big Sky, Montana
- National Space Club Goddard Dinner, March 7, 2014, Washington Hilton Hotel, Washington, DC, 6:30 pm ET
- 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)
- 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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