A few miscellaneous items:
NASA administrator Charles Bolden went to China and it was okay: In a statement this week, Bolden said his visit met its objectives, which including getting to know the Chinese space program and key officials as well as “reaching a common understanding of the importance of transparency, reciprocity and mutual benefit as the underlying principles of any future interaction between our two nations in the area of human spaceflight.” The statement emphasized that the meetings “did not include consideration of any specific proposals for future cooperation”, a sore point for some in Congress, but that it laid the groundwork for potential future cooperation.
Back in the US, another NASA official said elements of Constellation would continue on even though the overall program will not. Doug Cooke, associate administrator for exploration systems, cited the J-2X engine, which was under development as the upper-stage engine for the Ares 1, as an example of an element of Constellation where work would continue even though the overall Ares 1 would not. Cooke also said that NASA was examining the development of an HLV with a capacity of 100 tons, somewhat higher than the 70-ton minimum prescribed in the NASA authorization bill.
Earlier this month the Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report to Congress on the hazards of near Earth objects (NEOs). The report, requested by Congress in the 2008 NASA authorization bill, discusses both the search for such objects as well as emergency response measures (FEMA, for example, “would implement its standard emergency notification and response procedures for a space object re-entry incident.”) The report notes that the administration’s goal of mounting a human asteroid mission by 2025 “relates to NEO detection and possible mitigation activities in several ways”, from ongoing search efforts that will turn up more candidates for such missions to “the opportunity to comprehensively survey an entire object” through such missions.