Congressman wants to know if NASA has too much infrastructure

While NASA is working to hand over many of the facilities it no longer needs at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) after the retirement of the Space Shuttle two years ago, one member of Congress wants to know if NASA should be divesting those assets even faster. The Orlando Sentinel reported late Wednesday that Rep. [...]

Senator asks for another study on use of Russian engines

A few months ago, Russian media reported that the Russian government was considering a ban on the exports of the RD-180 engine, a Russian-built engine that propels the first stage of the Atlas V rocket. There’s no evidence that this proposed ban has gone anywhere, and officials with United Launch Alliance (ULA), which builds the [...]

Bolden: need to end sequestration and prevent another shutdown

NASA administrator Charles Bolden speaks at a press availability November 17 with hardware for the first Orion test flight, slated for launch in September 2014, in the background. (credit: J. Foust)

In a blog post Thursday, NASA administrator Charles Bolden discussed the new national space transportation policy and its implications for the space agency. [...]

Reaction to the new national space transportation policy: positive, but bland

Thursday’s release of the new National Space Transportation Policy didn’t contain much in the way of surprises or other major changes compared to the previous policy or ongoing activities by NASA and other federal agencies. As a result, the official reaction to the policy was generally pretty positive, if bland.

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking [...]

Fifty years after his death, JFK still casts a shadow on space policy

Today, 50 years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, some are using the anniversary to make a call for a return of the robust space program so closely associated with him. “We should put the space program back at the center of American life. Let’s begin a national discussion to decide the next great [...]

New national space transportation policy makes modest, not major, changes

After many months of delays, the Obama Administration quietly released Thursday afternoon a new National Space Transportation Policy. This is an update to the former space transportation policy developed during the Bush Administration and completed in late 2004. Both documents outline policy in regards of civil, national security, and commercial launch activities in the United [...]

Inspiration Mars pivots, seeks government support and backing

When multimillionaire and one-time space tourist Dennis Tito announced Inspiration Mars early this year, it was billed as a non-profit venture, funded via philanthropy, to send two people on a 501-day Mars flyby mission that would launch in early January 2018. Tito said he planned to fund the mission primarily through donations; they were open [...]

House, Senate introducing separate launch indemnification extension bills

With the current commercial launch indemnification regime, which protects companies from third-party damages that exceed a level those companies must insure against, set to expire at the end of this calendar year, the House and Senate made moves Wednesday to provide an extension. However, the two houses disagree on how long that extension should be.

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Planetary scientists lobby to restore funding

Last last week, NASA announced that it was ending production of the Advanced Sterling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG), a replacement for existing radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) that make more efficient use of plutonium fuel. As I reported for Space News, NASA justified the decision by noting the existing stockpile of plutonium-238, which will grow as production [...]

CBO report offers up human spaceflight to reduce the budget deficit

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report yesterday on strategies for reducing the federal budget deficit, identifying ways to reduce spending and increase revenue. Among the proposals for cutting spending was the eliminate NASA’s human spaceflight program: “This option would terminate NASA’s human space exploration and space operations programs, except for those necessary to [...]