More backlash against NASA science cutbacks

And the beat goes on: the Hampton Roads (Va.) Daily Press, in an editorial yesterday, criticizes NASA for turning its back on the Earth through a series of “ominous signs”, including deleting a reference to the Earth while revising the agency’s mission statement. “The evidence that speaks the loudest is where NASA puts its money, […]

Pluto and politics

With all the hubbub in the last week about the decision by the International Astronomical Union to “demote” Pluto to the lesser status of “dwarf planet”, you probably feared that, at some point, politicians would get involved. You were right. A resolution introduced in the California State Assembly hours after the IAU’s decision last Thursday, […]

Space and Congressional campaigns

Space is not a key issue is most Congressional campaigns, something most people understand (even if they don’t like it.) However, in the last week space policy issues have cropped in a couple of Congressional races in locations not typically considered space hotspots:

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reports on a race to win the Democratic […]

Don’t mince words, Burt Dick

[Editor’s note: an earlier version of this entry attributed the comments below to Burt Rutan, when in fact they were spoken by Dick Rutan, Burt’s brother. I apologize for the error.]

Dick Rutan, appearing at the Camarillo Air Show last weekend in southern California, had a few contentious things to say about NASA, according to […]

Griffin fires back at advisors

Several days after three scientists resigned (or were asked to resign) from the NASA Advisory Council, administrator Michael Griffin fired back at the members, and scientists in general, in a memo, ScienceNOW reported late Tuesday. “The scientific community… expects to have far too large a role in prescribing what work NASA should do,” Griffin told […]

New Republican candidate in TX22 and NASA

After months of legal wrangling in the wake of Tom DeLay’s decision to retire from Congress failed to get his name replaced on the November ballot, Republicans in the 22nd District in Texas have finally settled on a single write-in candidate to compete against Democrat Nick Lampson: Houston city councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. And, in a […]

More about the Mars Blitz

I neglected to mention earlier this week Chris Carberry’s article in this week’s issue of The Space Review about the recent “Mars Blitz” on Capitol Hill on August 3, when over 100 Mars Society conference attendees spent the afternoon briefing Congressional offices. “The reaction from Congress was what I can only call ‘freakishly’ positive,” Carberry […]

RAND: EELV will be with us for a long time

The RAND Corporation this week released a report by the National Security Space Launch Requirements Panel that evaluated the status of the EELV program and military launch efforts in general. (The panel was mandated by a provision of the FY05 defense authorization bill.) The panel’s overarching conclusion is that, from a technical standpoint, the two […]

NASA Advisory Council resignations

The Associated Press and NASA Watch report that three members of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) have resigned, apparently because a difference of opinion with NASA leadership. Wesley Huntress, Charles Kennel and Eugene Levy all served on the NAC’s science committee. Huntress and Levy were asked to resign, while Kennel left of his own accord.

So why did they resign, or be asked to resign? Levy, reached by the AP, said that he and his colleague’s scientific interests “didn’t comport with the kind of advice that the administrator and the chairman of the committee were looking for.” In particular, he said that given cutbacks in NASA science programs “we were certainly concerned that a strong commitment to science be maintained.” So did that cost him his spot on the NAC? “That’s a little unclear for me.”

A NASA spokesman told the AP that any outspokenness by Levy et al. on the budget was “why they were asked to leave because that’s not the case at all,” but one suspects that this move may be seen as such among scientists and others who think that science is being sacrificed for the sake of exploration or other NASA programs.

[Update 8/18 8:30pm: Wes Huntress told SPACE.com that his resignation was not a protest against science funding cutbacks. “Suffice it to say that these resignations were over principle,” he said, but does not elaborate. As for the overall Vision for Space Exploration, “I wish the agency every success in that effort and sincerely hope that science will be a partner in that enterprise.”]

Goodspaceguy, bad politics

Next month the state of Washington will hold party primaries for the US Senate seat currently held by Maria Cantwell. There are several people competing against Cantwell in the Democratic primary (although she is very much the frontrunner), one of whom is Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson. That’s right, Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson. Mr. Nelson, a former Libertarian […]