Congress

Summer showdown for NASA authorization

In a UPI article yesterday, Frank Sietzen describes the upcoming political challenges the Vision for Space Exploration faces in Congress. The article has a couple of interesting tidbits, including the possibility that the NASA authorization bill soon to be introduced in Congress will include a provision giving the NASA administrator the “political authority” to close a field center, although not mandate it. While some critics have suggested that NASA needs to realign and possibly close some centers, Sietzen suggests that this provision is primarily designed to give Sean O’Keefe a “budgetary ace-in-the-hole” to get recalcitrant legislators in affected states to support NASA budget increases.

It might be a moot point, though: Sietzen writes that “most” Congressional staffers familiar with the authorization bill plans believe that the bill will get lost in the rush to pass other legislation before Congress adjourns for the fall campaign. That’s in strong contrast to Pete Worden, working in Sen. Brownback’s office, who said at the COMSTAC meeting last week that he believed that that there was a “pretty good shot”, or better than a 50-50 chance, of getting the authorization bill passed. That legislation should be introduced in the Senate in the next couple of weeks, Brownback said at the JPL town hall meeting yesterday.

15 comments to Summer showdown for NASA authorization

  • See the poll when you click on my name.

    So far it looks like Ames, Goddard, JPL, and Johnson are safe, and Stennis is doomed…

  • Harold LaValley

    closing a Nasa site only shifts the burden of the budget to the unemployment line. I would choose to instead to clean out the dead wood, the unproductive, thoses that show no interest in what they do for work and lots of mid management for starters. Include the overly religous and uneducated to what Nasa really does do (as indicated at the JPL site)having them get in line for there unemployment.

  • Anonymous

    “I would choose to instead to clean out the dead wood, the unproductive, thoses that show no interest in what they do for work and lots of mid management for starters.”

    Have you read the civil service employment regulations? Can you describe how to do this within those regulations?

    “Include the overly religous and uneducated to what Nasa really does do (as indicated at the JPL site)having them get in line for there unemployment.”

    So you are in favor of using religious tests to fire civil service employees? What religious qualifications do you think should result in firing an employee?

  • Dogsbd

    I am a very religious person, and also a strong supporter of manned and unmanned space exploration. Don’t ignorantly toss all religious people into one file that YOU think they fit into.

  • Harold LaValley

    Read the town minutes from JPL meeting:
    On the overly “negative” relious remark it was in response to the JPL town meeting where “- One lady declared that we should spend billions of dollars on space, so that unbelievers in Jesus could all be sent to the moon. This was arguably the highlight of the meeting.”

    No I have not read the civil service employment regulations?

    Being a non-union employed all my life person, why should there be any added employment protection for non performers. There is none else where this only occurs in government jobs or though unionized shops.

  • Anonymous

    “On the overly “negative” relious remark…”

    But you think that religious people should be fired at NASA? Does this mean all religous people? Or do you favor firing Baptists and fundamentalists and Orthodox Jews, but not Unitarians or Reform Jews?

  • The religious lady at JPL did not appear to be a NASA employee.

  • Anonymous: If the remaining NASA field centers become FFRDCs then are the same employment regulations in effect?

  • Harold LaValley

    “On the overly “negative” relious remark…”

    This means extremist not normal practicing people that do not impress their religion values onto others no matter what faith or denomination.

  • Dogsbd

    I’d love to see how that employee guideline would be written.

  • Anonymous

    “This means extremist not normal practicing people that do not impress their religion values onto others no matter what faith or denomination.”

    Okay, so in other words, you are not favoring firing government employees based solely upon their religious views, but rather their speech. So you are not in favor of shelving the entire First Amendment, just the half of it dealing with speech?

  • Dogsbd

    I can see it now: “Errr.. Johnson, could you come in my office a minute. We understand you attended a Billy Graham crusade last night. I’m afraid we’re going to have to let you go.”

  • Dave Huntsman

    “If the remaining NASA field centers become FFRDCs then are the same employment regulations in effect?”

    No; just as at JPL, the folks would all be ‘corporate’ employees (or university employees, if a university was the managing corporation).
    FFRDC’s aren’t a panacea; there’s a long list of scandals from some of them as well. But there’s a lot to be said for them, particularly in both personnel management, ability to offer more competitve salaries than can be offered civil servants, etc.

  • Harold LaValley

    And speaking of funding or of paying bills something Nasa has not done a very good job at since the shuttle was grounded but I guess the same could be said of the russian Mir as indicated below.

    straight from the Nasawatch site:

    27 May 2004: Russians to submit bill for spacewalk, MSNBC

    “The “acceptable” payment would be 500 hours of crew work time – that is, time during which one country’s crew member performs tasks for the other country’s programs. This would involve no cash transfer, and in fact NASA is forbidden by law to pay Russia for any space-related services. But the value of the time request could amount to as much as $10 million, by one expert’s informal measure.”

    Editor’s note: Gee, the Russians sure learned all the tricks of capitalism from us really fast, didn’t they? Wait until your business partner is stuck over a barrel – in a bad way – and then stick it to him. What is really annoying about this is the fact that throughout the 90s America subsidized the Russian space program either through more than a billion dollars in cash and several billion in shuttle flights to maintain and repair Mir – and a Shuttle joy ride for Valery Ryumin as well. Given this latest stick up, one certainly has to reconsider whether it is wise to deliberately rely upon them to fly Americans on Soyuz spacecraft after 2010 while we retire the shuttle and bring the CEV online.

  • Perry A. Noriega

    To everyone who is a space supporter, enthusiast, activist, worker, or otherwise is a die hard spacer, and also thinks that John Kerry is, or should be interested in, or enthusiastic about, space, you can think again. John Kerry has many reasons not to care about space, and just because die hard Democrats who are space supporters think John Kerry or the Democratic Party should be backers of doing something in space like what the new Vision for Space from the President and everyone who worked on it, likewise, you can think again. Democrats in general, and John Kerry in particular donít care about space, and have no incentive to do so, because space is so small a niche of society in general, the space community is so divided as to goals, destinations, means, philosophies, dogma, and personality clashes, that they are not able to present a united front to the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party for that matter. Neither party has any real solid reason to care about space, and the space community has not united to make them care, nor do they have large enough numbers of united people to make them care.

    The space community can thank President Bush for articulating a vision for space that is inclusive, converged, and outward bound, and anyone who thinks they could have done better havenít proven it. This does not mean Republicans care about space either, because they largely donít. If you donít believe it, ask former astronaut, moonwalker, and US Senator Harrison H. Schmitt if the Republicans cared enough about space to back him up and insure his reelection to be a spokesman for issues of the future, of space, of technology. According to him, nobody else in the US Senate cared about it, and labeled Dr. Schmitt ďSenator MoonbeamĒ, for being interested in such issues as space, technology, and the future. And until Republican space supporters care enough about space to find ways to get mainstream Republicans to back the Presidentís space plan up and defend it to people like conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, who ridiculed the Vision for Space as not a really ďConservativeĒ issue, unworthy of being born or supported, and unnecessary for Republicans to support in large numbers.

    Obviously space development and settlement is an issue that is ignored by mainstream political parties, the entertainment, news, and mainstream media, and society as a whole. Obviously space must be supported, promoted, financed, and furthered by different means, and in different ways, than what we have done that doesnít work, hasnít worked, and will never work. Networked Means are the obvious answer, and projects involving universities, public relations students, faculty, engineers, mainstream Aerospace contractors and Alt.Space entrepreneurial companies, and all other organizations who donít at present think they have anything at all to do with space, and get them involved in projects that involve them as constituents outside politics as we practice it these days. Also, we can get a network of people in a city or state who use their own unique skills and own network of friends, associates, factories, using their own time and effort on projects that can be done in a few months to a few years that make real progress in our ability to get to space, live in space, and establish a foothold in space for the common man and woman.

    I do not have time in this column, or on this day to fully detail what can be done via networked means, as I am working on doing this in the Denver Colorado Metropolitan area, and anyone who wants to know how can read the editorials of John Carter McKnight, entitled the Spacefaring Web, for an introduction. Beyond that, read the same books John and I have read, like the trilogy by Manuel Castells on the Network Society, or Virginia Postrellís work on Dynamism, entitled, The Future and itís Enemies, for an introduction, and go from there.