“The same problem as last year, but bigger”

That was the takeaway message from a town hall meeting at the NASA Langley Research Center where three members of Congress answered questions from employees about the upcoming NASA budget process, according to the local newspapers the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot. That “problem” is funding for aeronautics, which was threatened with significant cuts in […]

Garneau loses

Marc Garneau, the first Canadian in space, lost his bid yesterday to win a seat in the House of Commons. Garneau, the Liberal candidate in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, west of Montreal, lost to incumbent Bloc Québécois candidate Meili Faille. Garneau finished second in the five-person race, well behind Faille. Garneau’s loss echoed that experienced […]

Your daily state space policy update

Who knew that state space policies would become such a hot topic? Monday’s Los Angeles Times takes a look at Florida’s new plan to increase support of its space industry (as discussed here last week). The article primarily focuses on Florida’s efforts, and only late in the article does it bring up California’s activities—in part […]

Yes, more humans-vs-robots

The wave of commentary about the relative utility of humans versus robots in space exploration has made its way to the nation’s largest newspapers. Monday’s Boston Globe takes a fairly subtle approach, praising Stardust and New Horizons while mentioning only in passing that such missions demonstrate “the scientific value of robotic projects that do not […]

Politicians for Pluto

The launch of a typical NASA planetary mission doesn’t attract too much attention in Congress, but yesterday’s successful launch of the New Horizons mission to Pluto did warrant a couple members to issue press releases. Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) congratulated NASA on mission, noting that “this mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt and beyond […]

State space policy in Florida and New Mexico

Florida governor Jeb Bush yesterday unveiled a request for $55 million in state space spending to go along with recommendations of a commission examining the future role of the state in the space industry. $35 million would go to renovating buildings at Cape Canaveral to support CEV operations, in a bid to lure CEV work […]

Reading between the lines

This time of year it’s customary for NASA officials, as well as their counterparts in other federal agencies, to beg off questions about the pending budget proposal, claiming that either they don’t know the details of the budget or noting that the details are embargoed until the budget’s release in early February. Of course, every […]

More humans-vs-robots

Apparently the confluence of the return of Stardust and the impending launch of New Horizons touched a few more nerves than just the Des Moines Register, as noted here yesterday. The Seattle Times compares the risks and benefits of human and robotic spaceflight:

Opportunities and dangerous initiatives beyond human limits reinforce concerns about sending human […]

DeLay and appropriations

The Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill reports on the maneuvering former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay is performing to get a seat on a choice appropriations subcommittee, a move that could have ramifications down the road for NASA. After saying earlier this month that he would not seek to regain the majority leadership post, DeLay […]

Another humans-vs-robots salvo

Amid all the congratulatory news about the successful return Sunday of NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, is shouldn’t be that surprising that someone has tried to use the mission to make a point about space policy. An editorial in Tuesday’s Des Moines Register takes note that Stardust was a robotic mission:

Best of all, the stardust was successfully collected in a robotic space expedition. It’s a reminder that unmanned space travel can be as fruitful as manned travel. It’s cheaper, safer and just as exciting. A spacecraft delivered solar sprinklings to curious, 21st-century humans without risking human life.

A quibble: one can argue that human life was at risk with Stardust, since there were people in airplanes and helicopters observing the reentry and participating in the recovery of the capsule. Still, a little more proof that the argument of robotic versus human spaceflight has not gone away.