Hubble makes for strange bedfellows

The Space Frontier Foundation and the Mars Society announced yesterday that they are jointly calling on NASA to mount a shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. “The Hubble deserters’ embrace of irrational fear as a core ethic threatens a precedent that would preclude any future human accomplishments in space,” the Foundation’s spokesman, Rick Tumlinson, said in the statement. “Indeed, had such an ethic prevailed in our space program the past, we would never have been able to launch or repair Hubble, and the Apollo program would have been inconceivable. Should we embrace it now, the prospects for future human exploration of the Moon and Mars will decline to zero.” While the Space Frontier Foundation and the Mars Society have a lot in common—organizations with influence that goes beyond the relatively small sizes, featuring outspoken (and often polarizing) leaders—they usually have very different views on national space priorities, making joint statements like these relatively rare. (Although both organizations are members of the Space Exploration Alliance.)

Meanwhile, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) visited NASA Goddard yesterday and called on NASA to restore a robotic servicing mission to Hubble. Hoyer, whose district includes Goddard, said that the robotic servicing plan, dropped by NASA at the beginning of this year, “is a very important mission for us to continue and complete.” NASA associate administrator (and former Goddard director) Al Diaz, on the same tour, reiterated that “We don’t intend on servicing it, that’s where we are.” Hoyer, it should be noted, is the minority whip, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the House.

Protecting local turf, part 2

An AP article Monday discusses the influence two members of Congress from Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby (R) and Rep. Bud Cramer (D), have on the NASA budget process. Shelby chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee, which oversees NASA, while Cramer serves on respective subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.

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Protecting local turf, part 1

In an op-ed in Monday’s Hampton Roads Daily Press, Rep. Jo Ann David (R-VA) goes to bat for aeronautics programs at NASA Langley. She argues that these aeronautics programs are more important to the nation’s economy and security than the Vision for Space Exploration: “Aeronautics funding is a matter of national security, and last time […]

Hubble, Mars, both, or neither

The Baltimore Sun published an editorial yesterday proclaiming its support for Michael Griffin as the next NASA administrator. However, the editorial also called on Griffin to put more emphasis on Hubble and less on Mars: “While he is on record backing the Bush plan to send humans as far away as Mars, we hope his […]

Albrecht on exploration and Griffin

Most of a Tuesday morning briefing by Mark Albrecht, president of International Launch Services, focused on the state of the commercial launch industry in general and ILS’ performance in particular. However, the conversation did drift to NASA’s exploration program. For that Albrecht could offer some unique insights: earlier in his career he served as executive […]

Forcing a Hubble repair

Could Congress force NASA to repair the Hubble Space Telescope? That’s the suggestion of an article on the New Scientist web site Tuesday, which notes that the House Science Committee “could introduce legislation to force a rescue mission – using either robots or astronauts.” The committee is apparently considering such a move, depending on the […]

Senators speak on NASA center threats

Two Republican members of the US Senate have spoken out recently to defend NASA centers in their states that could be subject to cutbacks or (as some fear) closing. Tuesday’s Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) acknowledged that this year’s budget battle for NASA Glenn “is going to be a tougher fight.” […]

BRAC attack

As previously noted, some localities are bracing for a potential NASA center closing review (or BRAC, to use the DOD terminology), never mind the fact that there is no BRAC process planned for NASA at this time. In this week’s issue of The Space Review, Taylor Dinerman makes that case that a BRAC is a […]

Accounting for change

The New York Times reports Monday on how some non-exploration NASA programs, like aircraft flights to monitor tropical clouds, are being threatened by budget changes at the space agency. However, the problem is not just a change in NASA’s priorities given the Vision for Space Exploration (although that is a significant factor), but also the […]

Hutchison’s vision for NASA

A Houston Chronicle article Monday notes that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) now has considerable influence over NASA in the Senate: she chairs both the science and space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee as well as the commerce, justice, and science subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, both of which have oversight over NASA. […]