The space policy attraction of Gravity

After three weeks atop the US box office charts, the movie Gravity was finally dethroned last weekend, beat out by the cinematic masterpiece Bad Grandpa. (Yeah.) Still, the success of the film made it an inevitable hook for essays using the film to make space policy points of one kind or another. But, just as [...]

The future of human spaceflight in 126 characters (or less)

Back in the summer, the National Academies’ Committee on Human Spaceflight issued a call for white papers, soliciting opinions on the future of human spaceflight in the US, including the implications to the country if NASA ended its human spaceflight program. In last week’s issue of The Space Review, I examined some of the nearly [...]

Launch indemnification extension déjà vu

It’s starting to become an annual occurrence: around this time of year, people in the commercial launch industry start to wonder when—or even if—Congress wil extend the existing third-party commercial launch indemnification regime. That system requires commercial launch operators in the US to demonstrate financial responsibility, usually in the form of insurance, up to a [...]

Vitter puts hold on Energy Dept. nominee, citing NASA issues

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced late Monday that he had placed a hold on the nomination of Beth Robinson to become undersecretary at the Department of Energy, citing issues he has with her tenure as NASA’s chief financial officer, in particular work at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

“Under the Obama administration, NASA [...]

A post-shutdown roundup

With the end of the government shutdown, things are starting to return to normal (at least in the pre-shutdown sense of “normal”) for NASA and the rest of the federal government. The agency has resumed regular operations under a continuing resolution (CR) passed Wednesday by Congress that keeps the government funded until January 15, 2014, [...]

Brooks introduces FY14 CR for NASA

As the House and Senate work on dueling plans to end the overall federal government shutdown, some in the House are seeking to end the shutdown for NASA alone. Late yesterday, Rep. Mo Brooks announced that he introduced continuing resolution (CR) legislation that would fund NASA—and only NASA—for all of fiscal year 2014, although such [...]

At hearing, senator presses aerospace industry to be more vocal about shutdown’s effects

Friday afternoon’s hearing by the Senate Commerce Committee on the effects of the shutdown on various agencies under its purview, including NASA, didn’t yield may new insights about the effects of the shutdown or a solution to it; at times, it was primarily a platform for committee members to vent about the shutdown (particularly since, [...]

Congress can agree on something: honoring a Mercury astronaut

There seems to be very little Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House agree on these days, as the government shutdown that started October 1 continues. But members of both the majority and minority caucuses of the House Science Committee did find common ground, issuing releases late last week on the passing of [...]

Shutdown update: hearings, closures, and non-closures

The Senate Commerce Committee, whose oversight includes NASA, is holding a hearing Friday at 1 pm EDT titled “The Impacts of the Government Shutdown on Our Economic Security”. Among the scheduled witnesses for the hearing are Marion Blakey, the president and CEO of the Aerospace States Association; and Alan Leshner, the CEO of the American [...]

Kepler conference caught in a Chinese puzzle (updated)

As reported over the weekend, some scientists are angry with NASA and/or Congress for preventing Chinese nationals from attending next month’s Second Kepler Science Conference on the grounds of NASA’s Ames Research Center. That issue has attracted the attention of the member of Congress who put into legislation limitations on NASA cooperation with China, provisions [...]