Chilton named to lead Air Force Space Command

The Pentagon announced yesterday that Lt. Gen. Kevin Chilton will become the new commander of Air Force Space Command, succeeding Gen. Lance Lord, who retired a month ago. Chilton will earn a promotion to general in the process, ensuring that the command remains led by a four-star general: there had been concerns that the Air [...]

A Mexican space agency?

Reuters reports that the lower house of the Mexico’s Congress has approved the formation of a national space agency for the country. The Mexican Space Agency, with an initial budget of only $2 million, would “coordinate research and work with universities and the private sector to launch communication and weather satellites.” (For $2 million, that [...]

Senators: NASA needs more money

Yesterday’s hearing on the NASA budget by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee was attended by two members: chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and ranking member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). (Cynics would note that these two should be identified as Sens. Shelby (R-MSFC) and Mikulski (D-GSFC/STScI).) While it was clear in the questioning of [...]

From X to H

X Prize founder Peter Diamandis will be in Capitol Hill today, but he won’t be there primarily to talk about commercial spaceflight or space tourism. Instead, he will be one of the witnesses of a House Science Committee hearing this morning on “H-Prize Act of 2006″ (HR 5143), legislation recently introduced by Congressman Bob Inglis [...]

Cold feet about ULA?

Just a day after Reuters reported that final government approval for the United Launch Alliance (ULA) might come in the next several weeks comes word that one of the partners in the EELV joint venture might be having second thoughts. The Washington Post and Reuters report that Lockheed Martin will revisit the ULA in a [...]

Sometimes it’s what isn’t said

Yesterday’s relatively brief, congenial hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee on NASA covered the usual topics: the transition from the shuttle to the CEV and concerns about the length of the gap between the two programs, aeronautics funding, and miscellaneous issues. (For some general coverage, check out SPACE.com, Florida Today, and the New York Times.) Unlike their colleagues in the House, the committee brought up China only briefly, near the end of the hearing, without the doom-and-gloom of the House appropriations subcommittee hearing last month.

The Washington Post, however, focuses on what wasn’t discussed at the hearing: the agency’s concern about the effect of Congressional earmarks on its budget. On the penultimate page of his full opening remarks, Griffin says that the growing size of earmarks—$568.5 million in FY06, compared to $74 million in FY97—is hurting the agency. “The growth of these Congressional directions is eroding NASA’s ability to carry out its mission of space exploration and peer-reviewed scientific discovery.” In his statement, he says that “NASA seeks the assistance of this Committee and Congress in reducing earmarks in the FY 2007 budget process.” However, Griffin did not read that section of his remarks at the hearing, and members of the committee did not bring it up. Griffin told the Post that he wasn’t trying to avoid a confrontation: “I feel about these earmarks the same way I always feel about earmarks.”

Florida House approves some state space incentives

Florida Today reports that the state’s House of Representatives have final approval Monday to legislation that would provide $50 million incentives for the state’s space industry, as well as consolidate the state’s numerous space-related agencies into a single organization. However, the House rejected several amendments by one Space Coast-area legislator, Bob Allen, who tried to [...]

ULA approval soon?

Some deals in Washington seem to take forever to close. A case in point is the sale of the Washington Nationals, the city’s professional baseball franchise that is currently owned by the league. Major League Baseball officials originally planned to sell the team to local owners within a few months of the September 2004 announcement [...]

A different approach to ITAR

It’s no secret that the space industry in general is unhappy with the effect that export controls are having on their ability to sell their products and services to, or even hold discussions with, foreign parties. At the Space Access ’06 conference in Phoenix a few days ago, several people were sporting buttons with the [...]

The Senate takes up NASA

While most of the hearing activity in Congress this year about NASA has been on the House side, the Senate will be paying attention to the space agency this week. The science and space subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday afternoon on “National Aeronautic and Space Administration Issues [...]