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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.
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.
Monday, February 8
Tuesday, February 9
Wednesday, February 10
Wednesday-Thursday, February 10-11
Thursday, February 11
Friday, February 12
UPDATE: The main engines have burned out, the External Tank has separated, and Endeavour is in orbit!
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.
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.
National Public Radio's Science Friday had a segment on NASA's new plan for human space flight today. First was a segment on other aspects of the science budget. The NASA part begins at about minute 30:00.
Host: Ira Flatow
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