Yesterday, President Obama signed into law HR 6586, one of a number of bills from the end of the last Congress he signed. The bill started out as a simple two-year extension of commercial launch indemnification but was transformed in the Senate into the “Space Exploration Sustainability Act,” with a one-year indemnification extension. The additional provisions included extending NASA’s waiver to provisions of the Iran North Korea Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) from mid-2016 to the end of 2020, allowing it to continue buying goods and services from Russia to support ISS operations; and a resolution calling for balanced support for both the SLS/Orion and commercial crew programs.
In a normal budget environment, we would be less than a month away from the release of the fiscal year 2014 budget proposal, wich would be released on the first Monday in February. But we’re not in a typical budget environment, and Space News reports NASA and other federal agencies have yet to receive “passbacks” from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regarding their FY14 budget proposals. This suggests that the release f the FY14 budget proposal will be delayed, perhaps into March. The White House has since confirmed that they will miss the early February deadline for providing the budget proposal, but offered no revised date other than that they are “working diligently” on it.
Yes, that White House petition demanding the government build a Death Star was pretty goofy, but give the administration credit for a clever response that highlighted some more realistic aspects of space policy. As noted here before, such petitions are not an effective tool of space advocacy, but it doesn’t seem to stop people from starting new ones (or the media from covering them), such as one calling for development of nuclear thermal rockets: it’s garnered fewer than 2,000 signatures since its introduction on January 3.