Congress: August 2010 Archives

Letter to Rep. Gordon Regarding House Science Committee Authorization Bill As It Relates to NASA

"President Obama's new strategy revitalizes and expands our investments in technology, commercial spaceflight, student research, and robotic exploration precursors. These are the key elements of the President's new plan for NASA that must be retained in any consensus solution reached by Congress and the White House. These investments will benefit all parts of our space program. Indeed, human space exploration beyond Earth orbit can only be truly sustainable and affordable if commercial spaceflight to low Earth orbit and innovative research and development efforts are pursued as well. We feel that the following programs, which are substantially underfunded in the current House Science Committee authorization bill, are especially critical:"

Keith's note: Given that this letter addresses the future, young people, and education - and commerical space, among the signers, you find

- No one under 50
- Only 1 female
- Little - if any - space commerce experience
- College management only - little/no classroom teachers

Keith's additional note: With all due respect to all the signers, and not to take away from their comments, but I do not see a single person on this list who will spend their entire career in the future referred to by this letter. One would think that their voices would be among the most persuasive.

Upcoming STA Event

STA Event: An Engineering Assessment of the Way Forward in Human Spaceflight

"STA will be hosting a roundtable discussion focused on the topic, "An Engineering Assessment of the Way Forward in Human Spaceflight". Panelists will include: Mike Griffin, former NASA Administrator and Professor, University of Alabama in Huntsville; Bob Dickman, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics; Gary Payton, Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Space and Scott Pace, Director, GWU Space Policy Institute."

Learning From The Past

Summoning the Future By Remembering the Past, Dennis Wingo

"Almost exactly 100 years and nine weeks before the famous speech by President Kennedy at Rice University calling for what would be known as the Apollo program, the U.S. Congress, in the middle of a war for the life of the nation, passed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862. The "national" railroad as it was called was chartered by the government had as its core purpose to bind the nation together in commerce and open up the frontier to economic development. The government picked the route, set standards for its construction, and paid milestone payments to each of the two railroads (Union Pacific in the east and Central Pacific in the west). The government provided further incentives in the form of huge land grants on either side of the tracks that could be resold by the railroads at a profit. Another note is that the railroad paid back the government at a six percent interest over 30 years, resulting in a direct profit to the treasury."

Frank Sietzen, Jr.: Consider how many space initiatives the United States didn't pursue in the past half century. A fully reusable launch vehicle. A 20-person expendable space station. New heavy lift boosters. A permanent lunar colony. The Orbital Space Plane. NERVA and Prometheus. An outpost on Mars. In fact, there have been more false starts and failed approaches than those that worked. By setting budget limits, the hand of the Congress can be seen in all of these programs, but the "failure to launch" can be squarely placed on the Defense Department, the Air Force, and of course NASA.

Keith's original note: This is how a Congressional staffer (Ken Monroe - @KenMonroe on Twitter) conducts himself in public (Twitter). Its a free country, as they say - but I wonder if his bosses agree with his choice of words.

21 August 2010: "If NASA wasn't being run by idiots a petition to keep an orbiter at KSC wouldn't be neccessary. Pls sign: http://www.spaceshuttleproject.com"

Keith's update: Looks like Ken Monroe is trying to erase what he said. He has deleted the Tweet I refered to - but I made a screen grab of it before he deleted it. Curiously, it was Ken Monroe who got all flustered about a Twitter posting a few months ago that quoted Al Ladwig at a meeting - a posting that Monroe got Rep. Olson to throw back at Charlie Bolden, ambush style, in a hearing - asking Bolden if he knew/approved of such comments. Pot-Kettle-Black, Ken.

Earlier tweets by Ken Monroe:

- 30 June 30, 2010: "Obama's space policy is focused on appeasement, not leadership. In fact, "leadership" cannot be found in the goal section of the 2010 policy"
- 7 July 2010: "The Obama administration has even dragged down NASA to become a laughingstock and national embarrassment."
- 20 July 2010: "The Senate numbers don't add up. They are starting to find their mistakes and what must change."
- 22 July 2010: "Prediction: House passes the NASA authorization but Senate does not. Bills become templates for continuing resolutions."
- 22 July 2010: "Senate NASA authorization lacks coherent policy direction and practically ensures failure; it is too schizoid to succeed."
- 22 July 2010: "Loan pgm was a tough sell to some members but I like it. Companies prefer cash b/c there's less recourse if they fail."
- 8 August 2010: "The fact is, the White House has no intention or associated plan to get to Mars in our lifetimes. Pick any date you want."
- 9 August 2010: "What does New Space mean to you? Socialization of risk? Financing scheme? Political ideology? Give me your thoughts?"
- 19 August 2010: "it is absolutely ridiculous for NASA to plan a Commercial Crew Office based on the President's $5.8 billion request."

According to his linkedIn page: "Mr. Monroe is a professional staff member of the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and is a principal advisor to the ranking member of the Science and Technology Committee, specializing in legislation and oversight of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as well as the space-related activities of the Departments of Transportation and Commerce. Mr. Monroe also advises the ranking member of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee on technical, funding and policy issues."

What's missing from the bold plans for human spaceflight, editorial, Washington Post

"But with the funding for NASA set around $19 billion and not likely to change, bold plans for humans in space are simply not feasible. Something must give. If the administration and Congress truly want human spaceflight, they need to fund it adequately. Piecemeal funding that dooms programs to failure is a waste of money -- especially when so many truly vital space functions, from the satellites that supply maps and communications to the telescopes that allow us to glimpse distant worlds, could benefit from such support."

Report: Fairness and Contracting Integrity in NASA's Space Communications Networks Services Competition

"Committee staff received several allegations about contract misconduct by the management and acquisitions staff of the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). These all related to large support contracts managed out of the Center. Many of the allegations were tied to the current Space Communications Networks Services (SCNS) contract competition. After a thorough review of the materials provided to the Committee by NASA and others and many interviews by Committee staff of both current and former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) employees, contractor employees involved in the SCNS competition from ITT, Honeywell and outside consulting firms, and discussions with contract law specialists at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Congressional Research Service, we believe that staff at GSFC have engaged in conduct that is inconsistent with either the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) or the agencys own rules. The result is that the SCNS competition has been skewed in such a fashion that, at a minimum, creates the appearance of the agency favoring one bidder over another."


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