Japan space policy review

The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has started a review of Japanese space policy. The two main areas under study are current limitations on the military use of space and “the role of compartmentalized bureaucracy in the lack of cooperation among ministries and agencies.” The former issue, which […]

Space News on March Storm

A (free) Space News article this week examines the annual March Storm grassroots lobbying effort by ProSpace, which is going on through Wednesday. The major focus this year is on new proposed legislation, the “Space Prizes for the Advancement of Commerce and Enterprise (SPACE) Act of 2006″, which would establish a “National Space Prize Board” […]

Milspace policy analysis

A couple of articles in this week’s issue of The Space Review focus on some cutting-edge issues in military space policy. Matthew Hoey takes an extensive look at the latest developments in space technology, including small satellites and responsive launch, and wonders if this is the first step towards anti-satellite weapons and other space weaponry. Hoey believes that would be an unsettling development: “Many people believe that a deployed anti-satellite capability and an ability to attack targets on or near the Earth’s surface from space would create a global climate of insecurity both by enhancing current risks and by creating new problems.” However, given the reliance of the US military on space systems, and the growing capabilities of other countries in space technologies, including those discussed in Hoey’s article, there has been strong motivation in some quarters for at least a “defensive counterspace” capability to defend space assets. How realistic such capabilities are in the near to medium term, and how likely such systems could be developed into offensive systems, is a subject of considerable debate.

Meanwhile, Taylor Dinerman argues that the US would be best served by transferring most space systems into a separate “US Space Force”, a new military service. Such a service “will insure that when the Joint Chiefs and their civilian superiors meet to plan an operation, someone with four stars will be there to make sure that the capabilities and limitations of US and enemy space forces are taken into account.” This has come up from time to time, but there have been few champions of such a move either in the Pentagon on in Congress, particularly after Sen. Bob Smith, the biggest proponent of a separate space force, left the Senate after the 2002 election. Also unclear is how such a move would solve the severe procurement problems Air Force space programs have suffered in recent years, which, as Wayne Eleazer argued in a TSR article last week, have deep roots.

The Space Coast’s not feeling the love

After viewing this Florida Today editorial cartoon, it’s clear that people in Florida’s Space Coast region don’t feel like they’re getting much support from the state government, including governor Jeb Bush, to help the state’s space industry compared to biotech ventures. However, given that the state legislature is starting to take up tax incentives designed […]

Reviving the Office of Space Commercialization

It looks like the administration and Department of Commerce are finally serious about reviving the Office of Space Commercialization, which has been in stasis the last couple of years. Early this month the DoC named Ed Morris, formerly of Orbital Sciences Corporation, as the office’s new director, and the office now has issued a job […]

What international partners see in the Vision

At the end of a 90-minute panel discussion last night in Washington about international perspectives on space exploration, organized by Women in Aerospace, moderator Ian Pryke asked the panelists—representing China, the German space agency DLR, ESA, and JAXA—how their countries had reacted to the Vision for Space Exploration, both within their space communities and their […]

Science on the hot seat next week

The House Science Committee is planning a hearing of the full committee on Thursday, March 2, at 10 am to discuss “NASA Science Mission Directorate: Impacts of the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal”. The witnesses scheduled to appear are:

Dr. Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NASA); Dr. Fran […]

A low-key White House visit

The crew of the STS-114 shuttle mission paid a visit to the White House Wednesday, getting their picture taken with President Bush in the Oval Office. Don’t worry if you didn’t hear about it: NASA didn’t publicize the event in advance, issuing a brief press release late yesterday after the event. Likewise, the only evidence […]

Simple solution, difficult execution

Overlooked in last week’s discussion of the NASA budget was a statement by The Planetary Society on its solution to the agency’s budget constraints. The society’s solution boils down to a single statement: end the shuttle program now. Simple, yes, but fraught with problems. What about domestic politics? “Starting other programs earlier, such as the […]

Florida presses ahead on space tax breaks

The Florida legislature is making progress on a bill that would provide tax breaks for space industries in the state. The bill, which “sailed” through its first hearing in the state House on Tuesday according to the Tallahassee Democrat, would extend a sales tax exemption for space- and defense-related industries. The bill as it currently […]