Alabama businesses support launch competition

In a letter earlier this month to several members of the state’s Congressional delegation, a group of Alabama aerospace suppliers expressed their support for greater competition in the launch industry, without mentioning the company that could benefit the most from such competition.

“As Alabama-based suppliers to our country’s leading providers of space launch services, we [...]

NASA, members of Congress make case for Europa mission

As NASA released a call for proposals for instruments that could fly on a future robotic mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa, some key members of Congress expressed support Tuesday for flying such a mission sooner rather than later.

“This is a wonderful crowd,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science Committee, at [...]

Commercial space advocates rally against Senate report language

Next week, the Senate is expected to take up the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved earlier this month. The CJS bill may be combined with two other appropriations bills in a “minibus” on the Senate floor.

What has attracted the most attention about the bill is not [...]

NASA budget debate shifts to the Senate

The House of Representatives passed HR 4660, the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill late Thursday night on a 321-87 vote. While dozens of amendments to the bill were proposed in the floor debate, which started Wednesday evening, few of those addressed NASA (the Census Bureau, oddly enough, was far more frequently targeted for [...]

The Planetary Society offers a stronger endorsement of ARM

Last year, The Planetary Society announced a “conditional” endorsement of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (AMR), calling it an “intriguing idea” but arguing that it needed to know more details about the concept. “The Planetary Society is concerned that the detailed goals, costs, and implementation plan for this asteroid mission are not yet well defined,” it [...]

Space lobbying today in Washington and Tallahassee

Two organizations will be meeting with national and state legislators today in separate events to convince them of the importance of key space issues. In Washington, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) will be holding its annual Congressional Visits Day, as members meet with congressional staff members and others to raise “awareness of [...]

As Europa looks more inviting, one group presses NASA for a mission there

On Thursday, NASA announced a significant discovery about Europa, the large icy moon of Jupiter: astronomers spotted evidence for geysers of water erupting from the moon’s southern polar regions. The discovery may be further proof that the moon has a subsurface ocean of liquid water that could, potentially, harbor life. Moreover, it comes a day [...]

As budget endgame approaches, scientists make another lobbying push

With a week to go, House and Senate budget negotiators are approaching a deal to set spending levels for fiscal year 2014 and avoid another round of sequestration. POLITICO reported Thursday night that the lead negotiatiors, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), are only “a few billion dollars apart” on a deal, [...]

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 [...]

Tweaking the proposed export control reforms for hosted payloads and suborbital vehicles

Last month, as previously noted here, the Obama Administration released a draft version of the revised Category XV of the US Munitions List (USML), which covers satellites and related components. The release of the draft version started a comment period that lasts until early July, after which officials will review the comments before making any [...]