China and the NASA budget (again)

Earlier this month a group of fiscal conservatives in the House put forward a budget resolution proposal that, according to an article in today’s issue of The Hill, “was as nearly identical as possible to the 1995 budget resolution” during the heyday of the “Contract with America”, with sharp cuts on federal spending. However, unlike […]

Supporting the private sector

In her speech last week at CSIS, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison endorsed (although not by its specific name) NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program to support the development of commercial vehicles to transport cargo and personnel to and from the ISS. She sees this approach as one way of dealing with the potential four-year […]

Clearstream muddies the European aerospace industry

Most people in the US have not heard about the “Clearstream” scandal that’s currently rocking French politics; I admit I had not until last week, although the controversy has been brewing for weeks. In an article in this week’s issue of The Space Review, Taylor Dinerman provides a capsule summary of the scandal and its ties to the French aerospace industry: one of the key figures was, until recently, a vice president of EADS. Dinerman believes that EADS will get caught up in the controversy, which could have repercussions for launch services provider Arianespace and satellite manufacturer Astrium, as companies and governments outside France may be prompted to review their dealings with EADS “if only to insure that they are not being manipulated for interior French political purposes.” This comes at a time when the European aerospace industry had been performing well, yet “the Clearstream scandal looks to be yet another obstacle to France’s ambitions to make the EU into a first-rate space power.”

A couple other policy-related articles of note in this week’s issue:

Christopher Stone makes the case for space-based weapons—not for use against satellites but against terrestrial targets. Given the squeamishness many have towards putting weapons of any kind in space, this proposal is not likely to go anywhere in the foreseeable future, but it’s an interesting argument.
Eric Hedman examines why NASA appears unwilling to take major risks, noting the lack of new technology in the current implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration. (Some, of course, have argued that the lack of new technology is a positive, not negative, attribute of the VSE.) He hopes that the COTS program is a sign NASA is willing to take some risks to try and gain “a revolutionary approach to orbital access”.

Time to declare an emergency for NASA?

This week’s print edition of Space News reported that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), speaking at a Maryland Space Business Roundtable luncheon last week, suggested that the solution to NASA’s budget woes might be for Congress to approve $2 billion in “emergency” supplemental funding . Such a move, which Mikulski said she planned to discuss with […]

The Planetary Society makes its case in ads

The Planetary Society is taking out ads today in several publications, including the Washington Post, calling for the reversal of planned cutbacks in NASA space science programs. The Post ad, a quarter-page black-and-white ad in the bottom-right part of page A26, notes that “NASA is poised to sharply curtail its exploration of the solar system […]

Hitching NASA onto the competitiveness initiative

Elsewhere in her speech at CSIS, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison discussed legislation the Senate Commerce Committee recently passed regarding the American Competitive Initiative and similar Congressional efforts:

We are now going to focus on having more math and science majors in college, produce more scientists and more research in America, and NASA needs to be […]

In: dark energy. Out: cosmic rays.

Yesterday Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington on “Exploration and the Future of U.S. Leadership in Space.” What seems to have attracted the most attention, and perhaps some confusion, are some comments she made in her speech about the role the ISS could play regarding […]

GAO takes on the DSN

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued Monday a report highly critical of NASA’s maintenance of the Deep Space Network (DSN), the system of ground stations used to transmit to and receive data from a variety of NASA spacecraft. In a study requested by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), the GAO found that the DSN’s three ground […]

How important is presidential space policy?

That’s the question I consider in an article in this week’s issue of The Space Review. It’s based on a forum earlier this month on the topic organized by the Marshall Institute. Many space advocates have looked to the presidency to provide leadership to make bold new projects happen, citing the success of President Kennedy’s […]

Bloggers say the darndest things

While I normally don’t scan the so-called blogosphere for commentary about space policy, one post on Blogcritics.org caught my eye: “Bush Guts Critical Science Projects And Outsources NASA Projects To India To Further His Ambitions”. The author, who identifies himself as only “Jet in Columbus”, decries both the cutbacks in NASA science programs and the […]