Policy: December 2009 Archives

Moon mission gets help in Congress, Houston Chronicle

"Fearful that the White House might scale back manned space exploration, a bipartisan group of lawmakers slipped a provision into a massive government spending package last week that would force President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval for any changes to the ambitious Bush-era, back-to-the-moon program. The little-noticed legislative maneuver could yield massive payoffs for the Houston area, which has tens of thousands of jobs tied to manned space exploration. The congressional action hands NASA supporters additional leverage in their behind-the-scenes campaign to persuade Obama to budget an extra $3 billion a year to finance the return of astronauts to the moon by 2020 rather than revamping -- and cutting -- the manned space effort."

New Course for Space Exploration Promotes Private Firms, WS Journal

"While no firm decisions have been made and budget numbers remain in flux, there appears to be broad agreement inside the administration over using private rockets and capsules to access the orbiting space station. "There is clearly a recognition that if you want to do that, it should be done seriously and with enough funding" to succeed, according to one senior administration official involved in the deliberations."

Jumping The Gun

Report that Obama decided on space policy may be premature , Orlando Sentinel

"A report by a respected science publication that said President Barack Obama has decided on a new space policy for NASA may be premature, according to Write Stuff sources. The report, which was posted Thursday night on the "Science Insider" blog at the web site of the journal Science, quoted unnamed sources saying that in a meeting on Wednesday with NASA chief Charlie Bolden, the president decided to add an extra $1 billion to NASA's budget."

Keith's note: It would seem that Science Magazine jumped the gun a bit. As is the case with the Orlando Sentinel, NASA Watch sources report that the story published in Science is incomplete and, in some cases, is just plain wrong. Specifically it asserts that a final decision has been made as to what NASA will be told to do. That is not the case. But it is likely that NASA will be getting a budget bump of upwards of $1 billion.

After last week's Obama/Bolden meeting, NASA is on the hook from White House to provide additional information between now and January to be factored into the final decision making process. Among other things, these decisions include the fate of Ares 1 and the new path that may be chosen regarding launch vehicle utilization and development. Moreover, sources report that the impetus for this "leak" was someone in or around the White House - someone who is not necessarily all that thrilled with certain options that are on the table. So, in classic Washington style, they leaked someone else's potentially good news - but did so early - and the results were counterproductive.

You can be certain that neither the White House or the 9th Floor at NASA HQ are remotely thrilled that this stuff is leaking out this soon given that some final number and policy crunching needs to be done. Having to bat down stories - accurate and inaccurate - serves only to distract them from that process. Given that there is lingering concern in some quarters about NASA's capabilities, seeing this stuff dribble out - regardless of the source(s) works against the agency as it strives to make its case to President Obama.

That said, having a high profile meeting at the White House just before Christmas and then expecting everyone to stay silent until the FY 2011 budget comes out in February is unrealistic - and somewhat naive in this day and age since no one can keep their mouth shut any more.

As always, stay tuned.

Flying Air NASA

Conflict of interest? Congresswoman staunchly backs Constellation -- and is wed to astronaut, Orlando Sentinel

"On Memorial Day weekend in 2007, Kelly flew to Indiana to watch the Indy 500 with Giffords, his then-fiance. Kelly listed the purpose of the trip as "Space Flight Readiness Training." NASA later said the flight may have violated the agency rules requiring astronauts "to avoid any appearance of inappropriate use of NASA T-38's" when logging their required monthly flight hours. The trip cost taxpayers almost $9,000."

Closing memo/final report/transmittal memo for several National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigations , Government Attic

"2. 0-KE.07.0167-S, March 11, 2008, Possible Misuse of NASA Aircrafts/Lisa Nowa k"

On May 7, 2007, Raymond Sander, Johnson Space Center, presented the following scenario to Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator, at an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" meeting: "If 1, as a NASA employee in good standing get involved in some emotional, non lethal altercation and arrested by law enforcements agents in Florida, will NASA quickly dispatch my supervisor in a Government T-38 or equivalent, to represent NASA and assess the matter?" The Administrator responded to this question by answering "No."

Keith's note: I find it somewhat annoying that JSC often complains that there is not enough travel money for astronaut appearances and yet astronauts can fly T-38's almost any where they want to since the T-38 air time counts against their flight proficiency. That said, based on my experience, such questionable T-38 usage is the exception - not the rule. But it still happens.

Charlie Bolden at WIA/AIAA

Bolden's Talk to WIA and AIAA, Chuck Divine

"Today, December 9, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden addressed a joint luncheon organized by Women in Aerospace and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Lori Garver gave a friendly introduction to Bolden noting that he was two star Marine General and a four time astronaut. A friend of Bolden's named Rocky told Lori "You have won the lottery." Charlie then stepped to the podium. He began by stating that it was an honor to be here. He added that Lori was a key member of his team. The numbers of women in aerospace today is a tribute to the work of WIA in the past two decades. He also acknowledged the presence of AIAA President Dave Thompson."



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