Congress, NASA, Other

Brief updates: Congress and shuttle, Eisele’s election, and China commentary

Another member of Congress has added his voice to the limited Congressional reaction to Endeavour’s launch on Monday. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), the ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee with oversight of NASA, issed a statement Tuesday cheering NASA on the successful launch. Fattah noted that he and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter called NASA administrator Charles Bolden after the launch to congratulate him on the launch; Bolden, in turn, invited both of them to attend the final shuttle launch in July. Fattah was not present himself at the launch of “Endeavor” (as the shuttle’s name is misspelled in the statement), but says that his wife and sons were there.

As noted here last week, one of the candidates in the special election for California’s 36th congressional district is an executive with an entrepreneurial space company: Stephen Eisele, the head of sales for Excalibur Almaz. In Tuesday’s election, though, Eisele’s bid to be the newest member of Congress fell a bit short: according to official election returns late Tuesday night he finished in ninth place out of 16 candidates, getting 660 votes, a little over 1 percent of the overall ballots cast.

In the last few weeks a provision tucked away in the final FY11 continuing resolution that prohibits NASA and OSTP from funding any cooperation with China or hosting visits from Chinese officials has gotten some attention, particularly after OSTP director John Holdren suggested that the administration might exploit a loophole in that ban, with a corresponding reaction from supporters of the ban like Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Yesterday the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua published an editorial expressing its disapproval of the so-called “Wolf Clause”. That clause, it claims, forced NASA to revoke media credentials for Chinese journalists who planned to cover Endeavour’s launch this week (its primary payload, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, features participation from Chinese scientists).

The clause may also prevent UCLA scientists from hosting a meeting at JPL with Chinese counterparts to exchange data from US and Chinese lunar spacecraft, according to an article in the UCLA Daily Bruin. A review of the provision by University of California Office of the President, though, said that the provision “would not necessarily prohibit NASA from funding research projects by U.S. investigators that include collaborations with Chinese colleagues.”

20 comments to Brief updates: Congress and shuttle, Eisele’s election, and China commentary

  • amightywind

    We all need to begin to understand that China’s repression must have a price, and that is the end of business as usual between the Chinese and their sympathizers in academia.

  • common sense

    “according to official election returns late Tuesday night he finished in ninth place out of 16 candidates, getting 660 votes, a little over 1 percent of the overall ballots cast.”

    I have no idea if he made “space” a major part of his bid. However you can see here http://www.votestephenforcongress.com/Issues.html that Aerospace is listed second in his list of issues. So here goes to all who think aerospace is a big deal in any election…

    Dem or GOPer does not matter here. Issues that relate to the people are what matter. Aerospace does not.

  • Space actually should be an issue in this district.

  • U.S. scientists in academia are not Chinese “sympathizers”. They have no agenda except to advance their research. They aren’t trying to uphold or excuse China’s human rights abuses. You are a troll.

  • The prohibition on cooperation with China will do no good and has the potential to do much harm. We should be trying to build bridges with China, not burn them down.

  • tu8ca

    Jeff Brooks wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    “We should be trying to build bridges with China, not burn them down.”

    Absolutely. We should also encourage and help establish labor unions for Chinese workers.

  • Totalitarian regime or not, I pray nightly that the Chinese will get off the copycat bandwagon of dull, boring space stations in LEO, and finally decide that sending taikonauts to the Moon, is the way to go! They would stun the world with this grandiose accomplishment. The sight of the Red China flag planted on Luna firma would be a mind-blowing picture postcard. The U.S. would then HAVE TO scrap Obamaspace, and send the Flexible Path jokesters away once and for all! The great U.S. of A. would have a re-created manned Lunar venture, run by the government, very shortly after; and this time we expand the scope of our expeditions there, building to the point of surface bases.

  • Peter Lykke

    Very inspiring, Chris.

    Can you imagine how the space race would have been if the US was racing on russian money?

  • Justin Kugler

    That’s an interesting fantasy, Chris.

  • It’s not often you have someone go on the Internet and publicly proclaim treason.

  • Justin Kugler

    Stephen, it kinda reminds me of that scene in “Spies Like Us” where the Air Force general talks about being willing to destroy the American way of life to protect it.

  • Mark Bernard

    @Chris Castro wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    No, Chris, they would not stun the world. People would be impressed, but not stunned, that happened in 1969, remember?

    The U.S. would not have to scrap Obamaspace.

    Imagine this mind-blowing picture: Taikonauts, with flag on Moon, with in the background in the dark ‘sky’ the sight of Nautilus-X on its way to Mars or one of the moons of Jupiter!

    China stuck on the Moon and we on our way to the Solar System, thanks to Obamaspace!

  • Coastal Ron

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    The great U.S. of A. would have a re-created manned Lunar venture, run by the government, very shortly after

    So you’re saying that the Chinese, who are obviously very sneaky, would send their taikonauts to the Moon as a nefarious plan to get us to borrow more money from them?

    That’s BRILLIANT!

    And you’re saying that we would fall for that?

    I mean really, all they have to do is spend probably less than $1B, and they’ll reap the rewards of us borrowing $100B or more from them to build your lunar bases.

    I’m sure some idiots in Congress would fall for that – would you?

  • kayawanee

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 11:23 pm
    “They would stun the world with this grandiose accomplishment. The sight of the Red China flag planted on Luna firma would be a mind-blowing picture postcard.”

    Wow. Where to start. Ok, put aside the fact that we’ve already been there–six times–forty years ago. You can also put aside the fact that such a socialist inspired program like that is economically unsustainable in the long run. We found that out the hard way.

    A government run, lunar program like this cannot (please excuse the pun) occur in a vacuum. At the height of the U.S. space program in the 1960′s, and in preparation to go to the moon, NASA launched over FIFTEEN human missions in a period of about FIVE years. NASA was launching a Gemini mission about once every three months, performing long duration flights, EVA’s and in-space rendezvous’.

    Now let’s compare that with what the Chinese have done. A one-man mission eight years ago. A two-man mission six years ago. And finally, a three-man mission with one twenty minute EVA three years ago.

    Given all that, do you honestly expect us to believe that the Chinese are currently in some kind of race to get to the moon?

    Get real. When the Chinese start launching twice a year, gimme a call back.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Chris Castro wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    Totalitarian regime or not, I pray nightly that the Chinese will get off the copycat bandwagon of dull, boring space stations in LEO, and finally decide that sending taikonauts to the Moon, is the way to go! They would stun the world with this grandiose accomplishment.<

    keep praying…Rick Perry has tried to get prayer involved in the rain issue here in Texas…

    of course be careful what you wish for…the "accomplishment" might also be a big yawner…RGO

  • Frank Glover

    “Totalitarian regime or not, I pray nightly that the Chinese will get off the copycat bandwagon of dull, boring space stations in LEO, and finally decide that sending taikonauts to the Moon, is the way to go! ”

    It appears China’s threshold of ‘excitement’ is not the same as yours.

    Or just maybe excitement’s not among their motivations. (or at least very low on the list)

    Or maybe they understand the limits of their technology and budget better than you. (not yet able, not yet affordable)

    Or maybe they see (correctly) that a space station is something that’s *part of* and not *instead of* operations beyond LEO. If so, that’s hardly being a ‘copycat’ at all. (Unless you mean they might be ‘copying’ the traditional, pre-Apollo Von Braun ideas that we’re only now coming back to.)

    “The sight of the Red China flag planted on Luna firma would be a mind-blowing picture postcard. ”

    To other Chinese, perhaps. To those familiar with the major events of 1969…not so much. US flags are still there, there’s just no one with them. (And the appearance of parity with he West is important to China, even if they can’t be first…but for now, that’s a lot of money just for the sake of impressing others. They know how far that got us, too. People get jaded quickly, attention spans are no longer today [and maybe even shorter] than in 1969.)

    “The U.S. would then HAVE TO scrap Obamaspace, and send the Flexible Path jokesters away once and for all! ”

    So, I assume you would recreate Constellation, that would get us to the Moon by what, 2030? No matter what China or anyone else does? And for an increase in the NASA budget that just will not happen? And with little additional capability for that money than Apollo? All three guys on the surface for just a few times longer than an Apollo mission?

    And would the initial Chinese ability be any better? As we also know, just getting a couple of men to the moon a half dozen times, doesn’t automatically lead to permanent bases.

    If we were still going to the Moon (and presumably beyond) today, we would have (and indeed wanted to) evolved to a different, totally reusable architecture by now consisting of RLVs, stations (note the plural) orbit to orbit and (possibly nuclear) LEO to Lunar orbit tugs and single-stage, reusable landers for sortie missions to points of interest on the Lunar surface, and support of surface bases and Lunar orbit stations….and not launching Apollo-60 (or so) on another Saturn-V.

    Why do we have to ‘copy’ ourselves and go back to something that looks like Apollo first, before getting to that state of space transportation technology? Why would China?

    Staging deep space missions has always been one of the reasons for space stations. Our only problem is that we failed to do that so far. Yeah, logistics and infrastructure is ‘dull and boring.’ Someone has to build and maintain highways, airports and harbors, but you’re limited in what you can do, without them. The fanboys who want to get ‘boots on the ground’ in one gravity well or another, ASAP and at all costs (or ‘pray’ that someone else will do that, and induce us to again put reaction and deadline ahead of affordability and sustainability) just don’t get that…

    Possibly China does.

  • Rhyolite

    “The U.S. would then HAVE TO scrap Obamaspace, and send the Flexible Path jokesters away once and for all! ”

    The rational response to a Chinese landing on the moon wouldn’t be to launch a 20 year $200B Apollo reenactment. It would be much faster to catch up with commercially derived launch vehicles and capsules – use what you have on hand. In fact, the correct response would be to scrap the glacially paced, exorbitantly priced HLV program.

  • Yep, and if there’s anything I pray for, it’s rationality…

    (But I’m not holding my breath as I do.)

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ May 18th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    “Space actually should be an issue in this district.”

    An issue maybe, the second in his list? Well he got 1%, clear enough I’d say.

  • @all the Anti-Moon/Flexible Path people out there; face it: OBAMASPACE WILL TRAP US IN LEO, for further decades! The Moon is an amazingly convenient intermediate goal, to work out all of the bugs in the technological systems, before setting out on any vast multiple-month-long interplanetary space treks. The goal is to learn & practice the planetary surface survival & thriving techniques that would later be needed elsewhere. The Moon fits that bill ideally. Unmanned variants of the lunar landers can be developed and flown, which would emplace cargo & base modules for one-way landings. Not having to return back to Lunar orbit again on an ascent-stage rocket, would permit much larger payloads to be brought to the Moon’s surface at the base sites. Assets could be emplaced at designated landing sites in advance of the astronauts, by way of these automated cargo landings. The Altair lunar lander would’ve served this expanded purpose. Yes, I would revive Project Constellation if it were up to me, because some degree of a Moon-centric interlude will be required if we are ever going to become true space farers. Obamaspace has been a nightmare! So far what’ve we got to look forward to? MORE BORING & DULL STATION STAYS IN LOW EARTH ORBIT, that’s what. Compare the flight of Apollo 15 to any one of those going-around-in-circles ISS stays, and you’ll see what I mean! LEO should be the start of the journey, NOT the end of the journey!! Apollo utilized a parking orbit around Earth prior to commencing flight into deep space. Constellation too, had the same plan: LOW EARTH ORBIT IS NOT THE END RESULT, but a mere tiny portion of a grandiose deep space flight plan.

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