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Rep. Parker Griffith Loses Primary

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

Representative Parker Griffith (R-AL), who represents Huntsville, AL, lost his Republican primary battle yesterday. Rep. Griffith was elected to Congress as a Democrat in 2008, but switched to the Republican party in 2009.

When he was a Democrat, he was a member of the House Science and Technology Committee. He lost that seat when he switched parties, but continued to attend some NASA-related hearings as a non-member, supporting the Constellation program. He lost the Republican primary decisively, 51 percent to 33 percent.

First Falcon 9 Launch Still Set for Friday

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The first flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 is still set for Friday a company spokeswoman, Emily Shanklin, said in an email tonight. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:00 am EDT. The next day has been reserved for a second attempt if needed. Weather is forecast to be 40% no go at this time, according to Shanklin.

Apparently hoping to dampen expectations for this much anticipated flight, the email emphasizes that the goal is to gather flight data and

"It would be a great day if we reached orbital velocity, but still a good day if the first stage functions correctly, even if the second stage malfunctions. It would be a bad day if something happens on the launch pad itself and we're not able to gain any flight data.

"If we have a bad day, it will be disappointing, but one launch does not make or break SpaceX as a company, nor commercial spaceflight as an industry...."

Dordain May Stay as ESA Director General

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 02-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The BBC reports that Jean-Jacques Dordain may be reappointed as Director General (DG) of the European Space Agency (ESA).

Dordain, a Frenchman, became DG in 2003 and is nearing the end of his second term. He was expected to be replaced by a German as head of the intergovernmental organization. The leading German candidate, Jan Woerner, announced on Monday that he did not want the job, saying on his blog that consequently France and Germany were jointly proposing that Dordain be asked to stay,the BBC reported.

Dordain is the sixth DG of ESA. The others were:

  • Roy Gibson (UK), 1975-1980
  • Erik Quistgaard (Denmark), 1980-1984
  • Reimar L st (Germany), 1984-1990
  • Jean-Marie Luton (France), 1990-1997
  • Antonio Rodot (Italy), 1997-2003

ESA's 18 members are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Spudis and Zubrin Join Forces to Oppose Obama Plan

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

In an op-ed for The Washington Times yesterday, Paul Spudis and Bob Zubrin joined forces to oppose President Obama's new human space flight plan and support President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration. Spudis is a senior staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute and well known advocate for lunar research. Zubrin is an ardent supporter of human exploration of Mars and is President of the Mars Society. President Obama sees no need to return to the Moon "because we've been there before" and wants to focus on sending crews to orbit Mars first, with a landing only sometime within his lifetime. Thus it may not be as surprising as it would seem at first blush to see Spudis and Zubrin working together to support the Bush plan despite their past differences.

New Chertok Book Forecasts the Future to 2101

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Legendary Russian rocket designer Boris Chertok has edited a new book forecasting the next century of spaceflight. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Baturin outlined the book's contents at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars this afternoon, emphasizing that it is a forecast, not a prediction.

The book's 40 authors incorporated science and science fiction to put forward their best guess as to what the 21st century will hold for the world, including for space activities. Somewhat surprisingly, they foresee little role for Russia in space past the 2020s, with the United States and China as the dominant players. They anticipate significant militarization of space and the first "space war" about 2050. They assert it will last two years and the results will be just like World War II - favorable to the United States. The pi ce de r sistance as the next century begins will be a "shocking event" according to Baturin: the first launch of an "artificial space pilot: not an automated device, but the product of artificial life." It terms of its impact on humanity, he likened it to Yuri Gagarin's 1961 flight that placed the first human into space.

The book was published two weeks ago and Baturin's slides showed the English translation of the title as "Astronautics of XXI Century: Attempt of a Forecast of Development Till 2101." Baturin donated a copy of the book to the Kennan Institute's library at the Woodrow Wilson Center, noting that it undoubtedly is the first copy of the book in the United States. Chertok, 98, was the inspiration behind the book and is listed as its editor. In addition to being a cosmonaut, Baturin was an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and has a background in law. He was a Research Scholar at the Kennan Institute in 1990 and worked with Chertok on this book.

Cosmonaut Yuri Baturin to Speak at Woodrow Wilson Center June 1, 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 01-Jun-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Baturin will speak at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1) from 12:00-1:00 on "New Paradigms for International Space Programs: Prospects and Forecasts." The event will be in the 6th Floor auditorium of the Wilson Center, located at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC. No reservations are required; seating is on a first come first served basis. A photo ID is required for entrance to the building.

UPDATE: Space Station Crew Rotation Begins Today

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 31-May-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

(This story has been updated to add the undocking and landing times.)

Three of the six members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew will return to Earth today (June 1). Oleg Kotov, T.J. Creamer, and Soichi Noguichi will come home on Soyuz TMA17. Undocking is scheduled for 8:08 pm EDT and landing in Kazakhstan for 11:27 pm EDT.

That will leave three crew aboard the station: Alexander Skvortsov, Tracy Caldwell Dyson, and Mikhail Kornienko. They will be joined by three new colleagues in two weeks: Doug Wheelock, Fyodor Yurchikhin, and Shannon Walker. For more on ISS comings and goings, visit NASA's ISS website.

UPDATE: CNN Reports That Elon Musk is Out of Cash

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 30-May-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: Space News has published a story quoting SpaceX official Larry Williams as saying that Mr. Musk's financial situation is "irrelevant to the company and our future" because although he is the largest shareholder, "he is only one of a number of investors at this point." The focus of the article is that SpaceX told NASA that it would be eight months instead of five months between the first and second test flights of Falcon 9 that are part of NASA's COTS subsidy program. The first test launch of Falcon 9, with a Dragon mockup, is currently scheduled for June 4 but does not count as part of COTS, according to the article.

ORIGINAL STORY: Elon Musk, the man behind SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is out of cash according to CNN. The story is about his personal situation and that of Tesla Motors, his electric car company, and does not mention SpaceX. CNN bases its story on court fillings Musk reportedly made in connection with his divorce trial and quotes Musk as having told the court that '"About four months ago I ran out of cash" and "I had to obtain emergency loans from personal friends."

Editor's note: an earlier version of this story did not specify that it is the first two launches of the Falcon 9 that are part of the NASA COTS program.

Hanley "Reassignment" Prompts Calls for IG Investigation

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 29-May-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

NASA's decision to "reassign" Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley prompted two key Senators to ask for an investigation by NASA's Inspector General. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee respectively, sent a letter to NASA's Inspector General, Paul Martin, asking him to look into the reassignment. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) made a similar request according to the Orlando Sentinel's Write Stuff blog.

Some consider the reassignment to be a firing, though Hanley was elevated to the position of Deputy Director of Johnson Space Center for Strategic Capabilities. Hanley's reassignment was revealed to the public by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on Wednesday as NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was testifying to the House Science and Technology Committee. Saying she had just learned of it, she asked Bolden if it was true. Bolden replied that it was his understanding Hanley was being told that very morning. The Orlando Sentinel reported that after the hearing Bolden said Hanley was reassigned "because he was 'conflicted' and had become a lightning rod for controversy." NASAWatch published an email from Hanley to others in the Constellation program telling them that he had been told his services no longer were required as program manager.

Congress has been relentlessly questioning NASA about whether the agency is complying with the FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act that prohibits NASA from spending any funds to terminate Constellation or begin a replacement program. A recent GAO ruling found that NASA has not violated the law but cautioned the agency to be "mindful" of the language. Nonetheless, actions like this cannot help but fuel criticism that NASA is trying to kill Constellation without direction from Congress to do so. The timing of Hanley's reassignment -- when the NASA Administrator was testifying to Congress -- adds to the perception that the agency is in a confrontational mood with regard to Capitol Hill critics.

Events of Interest: Week of May 31-June 4, 2010

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 29-May-2010 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

If you're not on vacation next week, you should be! Congress is in recess and apart from the last day of the National Space Society's International Space Development Conference in Chicago on Monday, we couldn't find any space policy-related events to list. Enjoy the break! Congress will be back June 7. is never on vacation of course, so keep checking back for any and all breaking news in the world of space policy.

Events of Interest    

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


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