Briefly: Budget turmoil, 2012 lobbying

The least surprising headline of the day is from Aerospace Daily: “NASA Funding Mired In Budget Politics”. While politics has always played a major role, the article suggests that the situation this year is even more complicated and uncertain than usual. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee whose jurisdiction includes NASA, [...]

The national space policy turns one

One year ago today the Obama Administration released its national space policy, a document that, while having much of the same policy foundations as previous documents, differed in both details and tone. The new policy placed a greater emphasis on space sustainability, responsible use of space, and international cooperation, while also supporting commercial space efforts, [...]

NASA complying with Senate request for documents

It appears that the threat of a Senate subpoena was sufficient to get NASA’s attention. Florida Today reports that NASA is providing the Senate Commerce Committee with documents it requested last week. The report is unclear whether the agency had actually delivered those documents to the committee by its deadline of 6 pm Eastern time [...]

Huntsman: space policy to come

Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and ambassador to China who formally announced his candidacy for president earlier this week, opened his national campaign headquarters yesterday in Orlando. Being in central Florida, so close to the Space Coast, it’s not surpring someone asked him about his space policy views. His answer, in essence, was to [...]

Senators push NASA for documents

Members of the Senate Commerce Committee, and their staff, have made it clear for months that they have been frustrated with the lack of information they have received from NASA about its plans to implement provisions of the 2010 NASA authorization act, particularly regarding the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. Last month they formally [...]

LightSquared, problems squared

It’s tough enough to raise the billions of dollars needed to build out a nationwide hybrid satellite/terrestrial wireless network, as LightSquared has found. But when that system may interfere with one of the most crucial satellite systems anywhere, those problems are, well, squared, something that Congress will be looking into during a hearing today.

Scrutiny [...]

Albrecht’s policy prescription for NASA

In this week’s issue of The Space Review, I reviewed the new book Falling Back to Earth by Mark Albrecht, who was the executive secretary of the National Space Council during the George H.W. Bush administration and, later, president of International Launch Services. Much of the book, as I note in the review, talks about [...]

A (partial) SLS competition in the works?

Reports on Thursday indicated that NASA has settled on a design for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift booster that would be largely shuttle-derived, but would offer some room for competition. According to Aviation Week and NASASpaceFlight.com, the SLS design will be only slightly different from the reference design released in an interim report to [...]

Shelby calls for SLS competition

What does Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) have in common with California’s two Democratic senators? He, like Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, is now calling on NASA to hold an open competition for the development of the Space Launch System (SLS). In a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden last Friday, Shelby said that while [...]

Another push for Pu-238 funding

Plutonium 238 (Pu-238), the radioactive isotope used in the radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), is essential to a number of spacecraft missions, particularly those bound for the outer solar system. However, getting the relatively modest funding (no more than a few tens of millions of dollars a year) needed to restart Pu-238 production in the US [...]