Texans for (and against) NASA budget increases

Several members of Congress are concerned that NASA won’t have enough money to continue the shuttle program, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday. In a letter sent to President Bush last week, 29 House Republicans and six Democrats, led by former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), said that they are concerned about a shortfall of […]

SBIRS and NPOESS update

Reuters reports that the ax has fallen on part of the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program. To deal with the program’s extensive cost overruns, the Defense Department plans to reduce the number of satellites in the program from the original five to two, with an option for a third. (The sensor payloads to be […]

The military, foreign policy, and… astronomy?

There was an interesting article last week in the San Antonio Express-News about the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), a joint US-Mexico project currently under construction atop a mountain in central Mexico. The LMT is a large radio telescope that astronomers hope to use to probe the early history of the universe and study clouds of […]

Plutonium-fueled (lack of) controversy

The last time NASA launched a spacecraft that used radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), the Cassini mission in October 1997, there was a modest amount of controversy surrounding the launch. The fear of radioactive contamination in the event of a launch accident, and ill-defined concerns by anti-nuclear activists that this was the spearhead for the “nuclearization” […]

Launch vehicles and industrial policy

In an article in this week’s issue of The Space Review, Wayne Eleazer looks at the history of how the US government has approached launch vehicle procurement. One might imagine that the government would want to encourage competition, in order to reduce the government’s launch costs, but Eleazer finds just the opposite: the government has […]

SBIRS survives

The Wall Street Journal [subscription required] reports Friday that the troubled SBIRS missile-warning satellite program will survive a Nunn-McCurdy review with no major changes. The Pentagon has apparently rejected proposals to cancel the program or transfer it to another contractor; instead, the Air Force will “restructure the project and impose tighter Pentagon oversight”. The restructuring […]

NASA authorization news

The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Congress “is expected to reach agreement this month” on a NASA authorization bill. House and Senate staff have been working to reconcile differences between their two versions of the legislation, S. 1281 and HR 3070, and conferees will meet this month to finish the work. The article doesn’t […]

Hutchison, the ISS, and China

It’s no surprise that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is a big supporter of the International Space Station. Using her position as chair of the space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, for example, she has held hearings on the benefits of ISS research and has proposed designating the ISS as a “national laboratory”, a […]

Spaceport policy

A reader emailed me yesterday and asked, in essence, “When are you going to talk about Spaceport Sheboygan?” Yes, I have been remiss in reviewing the latest in Wisconsin space policy developments (a phrase rarely uttered in the annals of history, I’m certain.) Last week a committee of the Wisconsin State Senate held a hearing […]

ESA clips Kliper

The European Space Agency completed a major ministerial meeting yesterday in Berlin and, in general, the agency did pretty well. The ministers, representing the agency’s 17 member states plus Canada, approved a number of major projects, including the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) Earth science/reconnaissance satellite system and the ExoMars rover mission (which […]