At hearing, some argue Mars flyby mission can provide direction for NASA human spaceflight program

Dissatisfied with NASA’s current asteroid mission plans, and seeking a more detailed framework to support eventual human missions to Mars, some members of the House Science Committee used a hearing Thursday to press the administration to support a once-private proposal for a Mars flyby mission.

“While consensus on Capitol Hill might be hard to find, [...]

NASA IG finds no evidence of intentional export control violations at Ames

Officials at NASA’s Ames Research Center did not intentionally violate export control laws but “exercised poor judgment” in sharing ITAR-restricted information with foreign nationals at the center, NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded in a report summary published Wednesday.

The investigation stemmed from complaints that foreign nationals working at Ames had access to information [...]

Senate appropriators to hear from SpaceX and ULA on military space launch issues

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee (SAC-D) has scheduled a hearing next week on “National Security Space Launch Programs” featuring the top executives of two key companies. The hearing, scheduled for 10 am Wednesday, March 5, will include as witnesses United Launch Alliance (ULA) CEO Michael Gass and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, along with Christina [...]

House Science Committee plans hearing on “Mars Flyby 2021” SLS/Orion mission concept

[Update 2/26 12pm: The House Science Committee has posted the charter for the hearing, and it confirms some of the speculation that this would be a discussion of a crewed mission to fly by both Mars and Venus: “This hearing will explore the need for a roadmap of missions to guide investments in NASA's human [...]

Briefs: NM spaceport legislation update, Lick letter

When the New Mexico Legislature adjourned Thursday, supporters of Spaceport America there breathed sighs of relief. Two bills that would have altered use of a spaceport-related sales tax failed to pass before adjournment, and thus died, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. As previously noted here, one bill would have prevented the state’s spaceport authority from [...]

Next NASA Discovery solicitation will miss Congressional deadline

When Congress completed the fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending bill last month, the report accompanying the bill included some specific language regarding NASA’s Discovery program of relatively small planetary science missions. That report directed NASA to issue an announcement of opportunity (AO) for the Discovery program’s next round “no later than May 1, 2014,” and [...]

Government shutdown could delay NASA space science mission

Last year’s government shutdown, which ended more than four months ago, now seems like a distant memory, particularly now that Congress has found ways to work more cooperatively on issues like the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill and debt limit increase. But while the shutdown might now seem like a bizarre fever dream to [...]

Spaceport tax debate reaches climax in New Mexico this week

In April 2007, voters in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, which includes Las Cruces, voted for a quarter-percent gross receipts tax that would be used primarily help fund construction of Spaceport America, with a portion going towards educational programs. A year later, voters in Sierra County, where the spaceport is located, approved the same tax. [...]

Wolf criticizes NASA for “persistent organizational culture” that creates security issues

Late Wednesday, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) issued a statement about a recently-completed independent study of NASA’s “Foreign National Access Management”, or FNAM, efforts, including security and export control issues, a hot issue for Wolf in recent years. And Wolf made clear he was not happy with what he saw. “Frankly, I was taken aback at [...]

Briefs: Commercial crew study, SOARS Act update

A provision of the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriation bill approved last month requires NASA to conduct “an independent benefit-cost analysis” of its commercial crew program “that takes into consideration the total Federal investment in the commercial crew program and the expected operational life of the International Space Station.” The bill withholds $171 million of [...]