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Congress passed the FY2010 supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 4899) and sent it to the President yesterday. The final version is the same as that which passed the Senate on May 27 according to documents posted on the House Appropriations Committee's website. That version includes further direction to NASA to continue the Constellation program in FY2010.
The primary purpose of the bill is to fund war operations. Secretary of Defense Gates has been anxious that Congress complete action on the bill, but passage was slowed by debate over whether it should fund other "emergencies" such as keeping teachers employed. The House added such funding, but the Senate rejected it. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D-WI) cast a "no" vote saying he believed the bill would serve only as a "recruiting incentive for those who most want to do us ill" and called it a bill that is "a good indication of the tensions and false choices that we face," funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while neglecting domestic emergencies in education and border security.
Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), ranking member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, argued passionately today that the United States must be the world's leader in space and not cooperate with China. His remarks were made at a luncheon sponsored by the Space Transportation Association.
"I oppose cooperation with China, " he said, citing numerous reasons such as its imprisonment of Catholic and Protestant leaders, its actions in Tibet, and its espionage in the United States. Conceding that "I may be a minority in my own party" in his convictions about China, he urged the audience to "see what they're doing." He criticized President Obama's NASA proposal because he believes it would cede space leadership to China or Russia. Though he declined to state specifically whether he favored the House Science and Technology Committee's alternative to the Obama plan versus the one in the Senate, or predict how it will all turn out, he called on companies represented at the luncheon to "make the case" for the bipartisan effort put into crafting a compromise to ensure that "America is number one" in space.
The Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Research Council (NRC) will hold a workshop at the NRC's Beckman Center in Irvine, CA in November to look at "Grand Questions" of space science and exploration and how to share the "adventure" with the public.
From November 8-10, 2010 at a meeting that is free and open to the public, the SSB workshop will explore the relationships between the five Grand Questions and the space research program and "how ro convey the value and excitement to the public." The questions are:
For more on the workshop and other SSB news, see the latest (April-June 2010) issue of the SSB newsletter.
National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interesting piece on July 24 about the space shuttle program as it closes in on its last flights.
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.
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
Tuesday, July 27
Wednesday, July 28
Thursday, July 29
Friday, July 30
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: 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.
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
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."
I'm at the House Science and Technology Committee markup of the NASA authorization bill. Follow me on Twitter: SpcPlcyOnline. -- Marcia
Events of Interest