The return of Mars Sample Return?

Last week, to the surprise of many, NASA announced it would launch in 2020 a Mars rover based on the Curiosity spacecraft currently exploring the Martian surface. While NASA was studying options for a mission either the 2018 or 2020 launch windows, based on the options developed by the Mars Program Planning Group earlier this […]

Long odds for a Senate space bill

Last week the Senate passed a defense authorization bill that included none of the space-related amendments that had been proposed, including export control reform language and provisions to extend commercial launch indemnification and NASA’s waiver from the Iran North Korea Syria Non-Proliferation Act (INKSNA) so it can continue to purchase ISS-related goods and services from […]

House Science Committee to take on NASA’s strategic vision this week

The House Science Committee has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday at 9:30 am on “The Future of NASA: Perspectives on Strategic Vision for America’s Space Program.” (This hearing was originally scheduled for last week, but postponed when the House was not in session at the previous time.) The title of the hearing is pretty self-explanatory, […]

NRC report: NASA hasn’t made the case for a human asteroid mission

The National Research Council released on Wednesday its report on NASA’s strategic direction, as requested by Congress. The report was not an evaluation of what NASA’s goals should be, but instead an evaluation of NASA’s current strategy, as outlined in its strategic plan and related documents. And the committee found those plans lacking.

“There is […]

A call for a “pioneering” NASA

“NASA is an exceptional institution in a tremendous predicament.” So begins the latest report to try and guide the space agency’s future. “Pioneering: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space”, released Tuesday by the Space Foundation, argues that NASA should be refocused on those activities on the leading edge of space, turning over other civil space functions […]

Space policy issues for the next four years

On Monday, a panel of experts discussed the space policy issues that will be at the forefront of the Obama Administration’s second term at an event organized by the Secure World Foundation. There are, as one might expect, no shortage of challenges facing NASA, the White House, Congress, and other players in space policy, from […]

Space policy challenges and strategies to be discussed this week

Much of the space community has its attention focused this week on the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco. Although NASA has tamped down the wild speculation in the last couple of weeks about a major discovery by the Curiosity Mars rover, there will still be news coming out of […]