Roadmaps folded, or not

NASA Watch reports that new administrator Mike Griffin has terminated the agency’s “roadmapping” effort, an agency-wide project to help chart the future of the agency. As the report notes, Griffin said earlier this month that he was disappointed with the pace of the roadmap efforts.

However, according to another source, the roadmapping effort is not [...]

More on the House earth sciences hearing

The listing for Thursday’s hearing by the House Science Committee on NASA earth science programs has added some more people. One of the people now scheduled to testify is Berrien Moore, who is the co-chair of a National Research Council study on “Earth Science and Applications from Space”. That report, according to one source, will [...]

Voyager saved (for now)

A reader pointed out this newsletter from the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society. The major update in this newsletter is about a delay in a planned NASA research announcement, but it also includes some good news about the future of Voyager and several other space science missions whose fate were in doubt [...]

NASA Earth science hearing

The full House Science Committee is planning a hearing for this Thursday at 10am on “NASA Earth Science”. Witnesses include NASA associate administrator Al Diaz and three earth scientists. I haven’t seen any other details about specific topics of interest during the hearing, although it will be interesting to see how scientists think NASA’s Earth [...]

Commercialization policy and subsidies

In this week’s issue of The Space Review I’ve written up a more detailed account of last week’s House Science Committee space subcommittee hearing about commercial space, with a focus on both the regulatory issues Rutan raised as well as how export controls are affecting these ventures. In the same issue Sam Dinkin proposes a large subsidy to promote commercial space transportation, in much the same manner as airmail subsidies in the early days of aviation. Given the magnitude of his proposed subsidy—$15 billion a year for ten years—I don’t think it would go very far in Congress, but the article does suggest some interesting possibilities if the federal government decided to prime the space access pump.

The Nation, DeLay, and space policy

The Nation, a left-leaning magazine, published an article about House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s influence over NASA and its budget. The article largely rehashes the issues most regular readers of this blog are familiar with: DeLay’s addition of JSC into his Congressional district, his last-minute move to top off NASA’s FY05 budget request, and the recent reorganization of the House Appropriation Committee’s subcommittee structure. Like many such articles, it includes an arguably questionable comment from John Pike: “With NASA changing its spending priorities to support President Bush’s vision for space exploration that will return humans to the moon and take them to Mars, there will be plenty of money going to start-up companies with no record of producing hardware, and there will be no way to measure results.” I’m not sure what he means by there being “no way” to measure results; at least one startup company has complained publicly about the amount of status reports and other paperwork they have to supply to NASA.

The thesis of the article is summarized in this sentence: “NASA, then, is another potential source of money and power for DeLay–if he survives his ethics troubles.” Don’t you think that if someone like DeLay—who already has significant power in Congress today—wanted “another potential source of money and power”, he would take aim at something a bit bigger than NASA and its $16-billion annual budget? Is that the best he can do to shore up his constituency back in Texas? Or is DeLay someone with an actual interest in space and is willing to use some of the power and influence he has accumulated to support the space agency? That alternative, unfortunately, isn’t really explored in the article other than a sentence that “for years, DeLay has expressed an interest in the space program.”

Rutan and Griffin

At Wednesday’s House hearing on commercial spaceflight, Burt Rutan mentioned in passing that he would be meeting with new NASA administrator Mike Griffin later that day. That meeting did take place and NASA had provided a photo of it as part of a gallery of images of the new administrator. (See photo number 8.) Michael [...]

Mr. Rutan goes to Washington

Burt Rutan was the star witness at a House Science Committee space subcommittee hearing Wednesday on future markets for commercial spaceflight. Rutan, not surprisingly, used the hearing to argue that the current regulatory environment—cemented in place with the passage of the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act last year—is not effective for “aircraft-like” commercial suborbital spacecraft. [...]

A “reinvigorated” subcommittee

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), the new chairman of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, issued a press release on the occasion of the subcommittee’s first hearing this year, on ISS research. In the release Hutchison promised “a reinvigorated subcommittee that oversees and works with NASA leaders” on ISS research and (presumably) related [...]

Breakfast with Mike

Here’s your chance to have breakfast with new NASA administrator Michael Griffin: just you and Mike—and 100 or so other people. Women in Aerospace will be hosting a breakfast on Tuesday, May 3, in Washington, with the new administrator as the keynote speaker. Details should be up on the WIA web site shortly, or you [...]