What do you get the senator who has been one of the biggest supporters for space-based astronomy? How about an exploding star! The AP reports that a supernova will be named after Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) at a ceremony Thursday in Baltimore to inaugurate a new archive facility at the Space Telescope Science Institute. The facility itself will also bear her name: the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes, or MAST. Supernovae are typically not named after people, so this may be only an unofficial name.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) released a letter Wednesday signed by him and 13 members of the state’s House delegation asking NASA to reconsider its choice to manage the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory. NASA selected last year a Florida nonprofit, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), to manage the ISS national lab, but CASIS has come under recent scrutiny after its executive director resigned and the organization itself appeared to be getting off to a slow start. “It is the general impression of the situation that CASIS is neither performing this type of work, nor actively heading toward being able to perform this type of work,” the letter states, referring to supporting ISS research. “Because of the limited life of the ISS, it may be time to consider a switch in leadership for this activity.” CASIS beat out Space Laboratory Associates (SLA), a joint effort of the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and Ohio-based Battelle Memorial Institute.
In an op-ed this week in The Hill, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) discussed the benefits of public-private partnerships in research and innovation, specifically mentioning NASA’s commercial cargo and crew benefits. “Developing a mutually beneficial relationship between NASA and commercial industry can enable commercial providers to carry human crews to low Earth orbit in the near future,” he writes. Palazzo is chair of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, which in recent hearings has raised questions about NASA’s approach to commercial crew in particular.