Suborbital days

Yesterday and today members of the Suborbital Insitutute, a trade association for the suborbital launch vehicle industry, have been on Capitol Hill lobbying for a number of legislative measures to benefit the industry. The talking points used for their meetings outline their areas of interest: getting HR 3752 passed in the Senate, export control relief, and full funding for the Office of Space Commerce within the Department of Commerce. Andrew Case, one of the participants in Mondayís efforts, summarizes his experiences over at Transterrestrial Musings.

I attended a lunch the institute organized Monday in the Rayburn House Office Building. Turnout was light, as many of the staffers who had been invited and even RSVPed to attend failed to show (perhaps given a busy day in the House, compounded by breaking events in Iraq); a similar luncheon last year was standing room only. During the lunch, though, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, dropped by and spoke for a few minutes. He didn’t offer much in the way of insights, other than his description of the lack of action in the Senate on any legislation (not just HR 3752) as a “psychological phenomenon”.

Moon-Mars Blitz

That’s the name of a grassroots Congressional lobbying campaign planned by the Space Exploration Alliance in July, according to a National Space Society press release. The NSS had already planned a “legislative conference” for July 11-13, where society members would have met with Congressional staffers to discuss space issues; this conference will now be focused […]

Big labor takes a swipe at space exploration

The AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions that represents 13 million workers, has unveiled a new web site, America’s Priorities, that criticizes President Bush’s proposed space exploration plan. The centerpiece of the site is a 30-second commercial that starts with a question: “What should America’s priorities be?” The spot then splices sound bites from Bush’s […]

In the Sunday papers

Sunday’s Houston Chronicle has a front-page article about the status of the Vision for Space Exploration. (As of this writing the web version of the article is poorly formatted; perhaps the Chronicle is trying to save money by cutting out white space.) The article is largely a straightforward accounting of the obstacles the plan faces, […]

DeLay speaks on space exploration

As noted here last week, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a Houston-area Republican, plans to take a prominent role in supporting the Vision for Space Exploration by introducing a version of a NASA authorization bill that includes the President’s plan. DeLay is also speaking out more in support of the plan. Last week on Capitol […]

Hubble vs. Webb

In a column published earlier this week by the Naples (Fla.) Daily News, Ben Bova suggests that extending the life of the Hubble Space Telescope could pose a political threat to its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope:

NASA’s plans call for a bigger and better space telescope to be sent into orbit before this […]

SEA update

A few small updates about the Space Exploration Alliance:

As noted in the comments of the previous posting on this, some organizations, including the NSS and The Mars Society, have posted press releases about the new alliance, although there’s not much in the way of additional details.
NASA Watch notes that both the Space Foundation and the Space Transportation Association were asked to join the alliance but declined. I can imagine why the foundation said no (they have their own group, the Coalition for Space Exploration); the STA also has ties to the coalition as well.
Apparently one of the people in attendance at the SEA announcement was Robert Park, who wrote a short blurb about it in Friday’s edition of What’s New. He commented about the lack of press present at the event (understandable, since such events have narrow appeal, and Iím not sure this particular event was widely publicized: I never got a notice about it, and I know several of the people involved in the formation of the alliance!) Park can’t resist adding a tasteless zinger at the end of his blurb: “One thing was clear, if travelers to Mars are the same size as the industry reps at the press conference, theyíre gonna need a big launch vehicle.” Thanks for the insightful commentary, Dr. Park…

Another Bush space speech in the works

That’s the claim of a UPI article by Frank Sietzen published Monday. Sietzen writes that, according to a “senior administration source”, Bush will make an address about his new space policy in early summer, which would be his first public statement on the policy since his January 14 speech announcing it (assuming he doesn’t say anything in the interim.) The source doesn’t provide many details about what Bush would say other than that it would “reiterate Bush’s call for advanced human exploration of space.” A few other interesting items in the article:

Bush’s speech will be timed to coincide with the release of the Aldridge Commission’s final report, which the article claims will be released in July. This is later than other reports, like this article published Tuesday, which cite an early June date for the reportís publication.
A plan to reorganize NASA is still in the works and may not be done by the time the Aldridge Commission’s report is released. The reorganization will be the “most far-reaching revamping” of NASA since its creation, but it will not involve closing any field centers. A Space News article this week noted that one aspect of the reorganization will be the merging of the Earth Science and Space Science divisions within NASA, a decision bound to create some controversy in the scientific community.
NASA is weighing whether to move up the date of the launch of Japan’s Kibo module for the ISS, concerned that further delays could prompt Japan to cancel its participation in the project and put Kibo “in a science museum.”

One caveat with the article: it relies entirely on anonymous sources, apparently within both the White House and NASA. Not knowing who those sources are, and their motivations for speaking, means that their statements should be taken with at least a grain of salt.

Introducing the Space Exploration Alliance

As expected, a group of space advocacy organizations announced today that they have joined forces in a loose alliance to promote the new space exploration initiative (read the coverage by and the AP.) The alliance was announced today in Washington at the National Press Club. They have assembled a wide range of participating organizations, […]

DeLay trumps Boehlert

A blurb in this week’s Aviation Week (not online) notes that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House majority leader, has taken over work on introducing a NASA authorization bill that would support the President’s space exploration plan. House Science Committee chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), had planned to introduce the President’s version of the NASA […]