Another day, another hearing

The House Science Committee will be holding another hearing at 10 am this morning, this time to take up the GOES-R satellite program, hoping to avoid the problems associated with the NPOESS weather satellite program. A GAO report on GOES-R will be officially released at the hearing; a GAO official will be one of the […]

Not everyone’s happy about Griffin’s China trip

While NASA administrator Mike Griffin’s trip to China has not resulted in any great breakthroughs in Sino-American space cooperation (with pre-trip expectations kept accordingly low), at least one member of Congress isn’t happy Griffin went to China in the first place. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) issued a statement criticizing NASA and the Bush Administration for […]

Orion hearing this afternoon

A reminder that the House Science Committee will be holding a hearing about Orion (formerly the CEV) this afternoon at 2 pm. The hearing will be in Rayburn 2318 and should be webcast through the committee’s web site. I won’t be able to watch the hearing live so I’ll welcome any comments people who do […]

MSL RTG public hearings today

NASA is holding a pair of public hearings today ion Florida’s Space Coast about the planned use of a nuclear-powered RTG on the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, planned for launch from Cape Canaveral in 2009. The hearings, this afternoon and this evening, “will give area residents a chance to hear NASA’s explanation of the mission, […]

Griffin answers astronomers’ concerns

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) issued a press release Tuesday with the contents of a question-and-answer exchange between the AAS’ Committee for Astronomy and Public Policy and NASA administrator Mike Griffin. Among the notable responses from Griffin:

He says that science funding at NASA will increase at 1% per year (somewhat below the current inflation […]

Emergency spending and earmarks

The Heritage Foundation, in an online memo criticizing Senate plans to add $32 billion in “emergency” funding to FY2007 budget bills, makes mention of efforts to increase NASA’s budget by $1 billion through such a mechanism. The problem, Heritage’s Brian Riedl believes, is rooted in Congressmen’s tendencies to attach earmarks to NASA budgets. “Had Congress resisted the urge to earmark NASA’s budget in 2005 and 2006, the agency would have enough money to fund” the shuttle return to flight and post-Katrina repairs without such an emergency measure. “Rather than cut back on pork, Senators added $1 billion in ‘emergency funding’ for basic, non-emergency activities” like those.

This analysis misses a couple of nuances, though. Much of the argument for the additional funding has been based on the fact that NASA got no extra money to cover the costs of the return-to-flight efforts in the last few years. Also, paying for Katrina repairs certainly constitutes an emergency, and NASA did get some additional money for FY06 to cover repairs, although not as much as it asked for. While Heritage is right to be concerned about pork and earmarks, Congress has cut back on earmarks so far in this budget cycle, although we’re still far from done (and it won’t be done soon: the Senate version of the FY07 budget is unlikely to be approved before Congress adjourns at the end of this week; it reconvenes after the November general election.)

A couple of polls

Yesterday the Coalition for Space Exploration released the results of a Gallup Poll on public interest in the Vision for Space Exploration. The survey is the third in a series dating back to mid-2005 commission by the organization to gauge public interest in the VSE; the release includes results from all three surveys. The results […]

A generational gap in space?

In a detailed review of a conference on the societal impact of space, Dwayne Day discusses a presentation made by Wendell Mendell of NASA/JSC that brought up an interesting point:

However, Mendell also warned of a potential generational gap in visions of space. Younger people no longer have the shared vision of those raised during […]

Griffin in China

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is in China right now meeting with his counterparts there and getting tours of various facilities. (Apparently not on the list, surprisingly, is the Chinese manned launch center in Jiuquan; a NASA spokesperson told AFP simply that those plans “did not work out”.) As has been the case since the plans […]

Another privatization screed

The Salt Lake Tribune carried an op-ed this week by Eric Peters (identified as “an automotive columnist for The Army Times and The Navy Times“) who argues that NASA should be abolished and US space exploration efforts should be privatized. Why? NASA, he believes, is “constantly being outdone by smaller and innovative private space ventures […]