NASA marks progress on JWST, but concerns remain

To hear it from NASA, development of its largest science mission, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), remains on track. Last week, the agency announced that the program passed another milestone: a spacecraft critical design review (CDR), the last of several CDRs for various aspects of the space observatory. “What that means is all of [...]

House Science Committee to examine “necessary updates” to commercial launch law

When Congress passed a three-year extension of the third-party commercial launch indemnification regime earlier this month (the pending legislation was used as the “legislative vehicle” for the omnibus fiscal year 2014 spending), industry celebrated the move, but some wondered if the extension would take pressure off Congress to take a broader look at commercial launch [...]

California offers tax break jackpot for space companies; New Mexico wants better use of spaceport tax

California has lagged other states in enacting measures to support commercial space companies, but is now working hard to catch up. On Wednesday, the California Assembly passed AB 777 on a 69-5 vote. The bill would grant an exemption to property taxes for equipment “that has, or upon manufacture, assembly, or installation has, space flight [...]

Is now the time to start working on space property rights?

Given the current range of space policy issues under discussion and debate, the concept of space property rights can seem a little, well, out there. Lunar bases and asteroid prospecting are still likely years in the future: can’t this issue wait? Not in the eyes of some legal experts and space advocates.

In an op-ed [...]

Bolden: search for new deputy administrator ongoing

The position of NASA Deputy Administrator has been vacant since Lori Garver left the agency in early September to become general manager of the Air Line Pilots Association. There has, since then, been occasional speculation about who might be picked to take the job, with some wondering if the position—which, like the administrator, requires a [...]

Congressional briefs: Vitter to run for governor, Stockman goes missing

Congress has been on recess this week, but there still have been a couple of developments this week involving members who have an interest in NASA programs and policy.

On Tuesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) announced that he plans to run for governor of Louisiana, which means he could leave the Senate before his current [...]

ASAP warns on commercial crew funding (again), gets philosophical about risk

Late last week, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) released its annual report on safety issues at NASA. As in recent years, one concern it highlighted in the report and accompanying cover letter is the level of funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). ASAP remains worried that shortfalls in funding appropriated for the program [...]

A forgotten anniversary

Most of the space community spent this past Tuesday, January 14, examining the details of the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014 that funds NASA at ann overall level of $17.65 billion. Overlooked in that analysis, though, was another event: Tuesday marked the tenth anniversary of the speech by President George W. Bush at [...]

Commercial space industry celebrates launch indemnification extension in omnibus spending bill

While most of the space-related discussion about the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014 passed by Congress this week focused on the relatively favorable spending levels for NASA in the bill, the legislation also included another benefit for the commercial launch industry. The legislative vehicle used for the omnibus spending package was HR 3547, [...]

Briefly: Fattah endorses ISS extension; Dryden renaming bill becomes law

The announcement last week by the Obama Administration that it seeks to extend the life of the International Space Station to at least 2024, which already has the support of a number of members of Congress, received the support of another key member earlier this week. Speaking at the AIAA SciTech 2014 conference Monday outside [...]