Sequestration’s effects on commercial crew, and planning for FY14

At a media telecon Thursday afternoon to talk about the just-completed Dragon mission to the International Space Station, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said that budget sequestration could have an adverse effect on the agency’s commercial crew program if it extends beyond the end of this fiscal year. “So far, we don’t see any significant impact [...]

Petitions, full of sound and fury, signifying…

Back in December I noted the space advocacy community’s continued, if perhaps misguided, fascination with White House petitions. Petitions have been the tool of first resort—and sometimes the tool of only resort—to demand funding increases for NASA or other policy changes. The problem is that they often fail to reach the necessarily threshold (recently increased [...]

Don’t send Bruce Willis to do a robot’s job

The Senate Commerce Committee’s space subcommittee hearing last Wednesday on “Assessing the Risks, Impacts, and Solutions for Space Threats” was seen by many as the Senate’s counterpart to a House Science Committee hearing the day before on the subject of threats posed by near Earth objects (NEOs). While it didn’t have the star power of [...]

With budget uncertainty resolved, sequestration’s effects kick in

The good news for NASA and other federal agencies is that they finally have a fiscal year 2013 budget. On Thursday, the House passed the Senate’s version of a 2013 spending bill as expected, a day after the Senate approved it. The passage ends any worries about a potential government shutdown when the current continuing [...]

Combating the perception of a lack of consensus

In December, the National Research Council issued a report on NASA’s strategic direction that concluded that there was “no national consensus” on NASA’s strategic goals, including a lack of widespread acceptance of plans for a human asteroid mission by 2025. After his keynote speech at the Goddard Memorial Symposium in Greenbelt, Maryland, yesterday, I asked [...]

NASA to Congress: don’t “pour money” into NEO programs

Events like last month’s Russian meteor and close approach by asteroid 2012 DA14—coincidental but taking place just hours apart—raised public awareness in the potential threats posed by near Earth objects (NEOs). It would also seem to be an opportunity for NASA in particular to seek additional funding to support its NEO detection efforts, which are [...]

FY2013 budget endgame in sight

With just over a week before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the federal government is set to expire, it appears a plan is taking shape to pass a final FY13 appropriations bill this week. Monday evening the Senate approved a cloture motion for its version of HR 933, cutting off debate and setting the [...]

Space threats double feature in Congress next week

The House Science Committee has rescheduled the hearing on “Threats from Space: A Review of U.S. Government Efforts to Track and Mitigate Asteroids and Meteors, Part 1” for Tuesday, March 19, at 10 am. The hearing was planned for March 6 but postponed because of a threatened snowstorm that, as it turned out, failed to [...]

Briefs: New Mexico spaceport law, NASA sequestration effects, next CNES head, Garneau drops out

Legislation that would extend liability indemnification to suppliers of vehicles operating from Spaceport America is now awaiting the signature of the governor of New Mexico. On Monday the New Mexico House passed unanimous a bill that previously passed in the state Senate. The bill, long sought by state officials and Virgin Galactic alike, would extend [...]

Senate offers its own take on FY13 NASA budget (updated)

Monday night the Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of a full year fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution and appropriations bill, which includes a full appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS). The top-level NASA figure is slightly higher than the House CR passed last week, at $17.86 billion (but see caveats below about [...]