GAO Finds OSTP Violated Law By Meeting With Chinese

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) violated a Congressional ban on meeting with Chinese officials. OSTP doesn’t deny violating the provision, which was included in a spending bill, but claims the ban is unconstitutional.

The GAO stated its conclusion in a letter sent this week to Rep. Frank Wolf, who had requested an inquiry. The GAO found that OSTP, which is an arm of the White House, had spent about $3,500 to lead and participate in a series of high-level meetings and events with Chinese officials in May concerning technology, intellectual property protection, climate change, joint cooperation and other matters.


Obama: New Tech Development Vital to Space Program

During the Twitter Town Hall meeting yesterday, President Barack Obama addressed the need to revamp America’s space program’s vision and operations:

“We’re still using the same models for space travel that we used with the Apollo program 30, 40 years ago. And so what we’ve said is, rather than keep on doing the same thing, let’s invest in basic research around new technologies that can get us places faster, allow human space flight to last longer.”

Read his full response below.

AIA Hails Obama’s Commitment to Innovation, Education

President’s Commitment to Education the Right Step for Our Nation
Statement by AIA President & CEO Marion C. Blakey on President Obama’s State of the Union Address
January 27, 2011

Arlington, Va. – President Obama’s commitment to innovation and education is important for our nation at a time when we’re facing enormous economic challenges. Our industry understands more than most that “this is our generation’s Sputnik moment” and is committed to contributing to the solution. Already, our members invest nearly $160 million annually to help build critical science, technology, engineering and math skills in our youth.

With 624,000 aerospace employees across the country, we manufacture the high-tech products that our industry has been renowned for since the first flight of the Wright brothers on the sandy dunes of Kitty Hawk. We’re looking forward to working with the administration and continuing to be the industry of innovation and excitement that is the backbone of our country’s competitiveness.

U.S., China Reaffirm Commitment to Deepen Space Cooperation

U.S. – China Joint Statement

President Barack Obama of the United States of America
President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China

10.  The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space.  The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010.  The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit.

11.  The United States and China acknowledged the accomplishments under the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology, one of the longest-standing bilateral agreements between the two countries, and welcomed the signing of its extension.  The United States and China will continue to cooperate in such diverse areas as agriculture, health, energy, environment, fisheries, student exchanges, and technological innovation in order to advance mutual well-being.

Satellite Sector Encouraged by Obama’s Approach to ITAR, Commercial Procurement

Commercial Satellite Sector Sees Upside to New Space Policy Hopeful of ITAR Reform, Greater Stake in U.S. Roadmap for Space
Satellite Today

The Obama Administration’s new space policy brings an increased emphasis to the commercial satellite industry as a key player in the future space roadmap. Specifically, the policy calls on government space-based agencies to look first to commercial assets – a strategy that it hopes will lead to faster innovation and more economical access to space while fostering international collaboration and shared risk-taking.


Agreement on Indian Launches of U.S. Satellites Still Under Negotiation

ISRO's PSLV-C15 rocket
ISRO's PSLV-C15 rocket lifts off with five satellites aboard on July 12, 2010.

No pact likely on US commercial satellite launch by ISRO
Indian Express

With the US still in the process of finalising export reforms on commercial satellites by restructuring the US Munitions List on spacecraft, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is not expecting to see a much anticipated Commercial Satellites Launch Agreement (CSLA) inked during the visit of US President Barack Obama later this week.

The CSLA, seen as a progression on a Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) signed in July 2009 during the visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, will allow US commercial satellites or satellites with US components to be launched on ISRO space vehicles, significantly opening up the nearly $2 billion global space launch business for India.

The CSLA has been on the negotiating table for high technology partnerships between the two countries for a long time now and is considered by ISRO officials to be close to agreement.

Read the full story.

Bolden Heads for China, Indonesia for a Bit of Space Diplomacy

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is headed to China and Indonesia this week for talks that will include preliminary discussions on cooperation on human spaceflight between NASA and the Middle Kingdom.

The Chinese trip, which has raised some hackles in Congress, is “intended to be introductory in nature and will not include consideration of any specific proposals for human space flight cooperation or new cooperation in any other areas of NASA’s activities,” Bolden wrote in a letter to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).

Wolf had written to Bolden recently objecting to the trip, saying that Congress has placed limits on U.S. cooperation with China in space. The conservative Congressman, who is line for the chairmanship of NASA appropriations subcommittee if Republicans take control of Congress next year, has been very critical of China on human rights and military issues.


AIA, AIAA Applaud as Obama Administration Moves Forward on ITAR Reform

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) have both applauded efforts announced this week by the Obama Administration to continue reforming the nation’s restrictive ITAR export reform laws.

“AIAA applauds President Obama’s recently announced changes to the ITAR policy that will consolidate the export review process under one agency, and will better enable the flow of U.S. products into the international marketplace without compromising national security,” said AIAA President Mark Lewis.


Two Billion Upgrade Proposed for Cape Canaveral

United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

John McCarthy of Florida Today has a detailed look at proposed upgrades for the Eastern Range, one of the key elements in NASA’s new commercial approach to spaceflight. The Cape has been steadily losing the launch business for decades due to high costs, bureaucracy and antiquated equipment.

President Barack Obama’s plan to spend nearly $2 billion — including $429 million in 2011 — transforming Kennedy Space Center and the adjacent Air Force station into a “21st Century Launch Complex” could lure more of those commercial payloads back to Florida’s spaceport. That might mean fewer jobs at remote tracking locations such as Ascension Island as older equipment is retired, but it would create new jobs locally to support the increased launches. Ideally, the region would also capture some of the pre-launch work, such as assembling the satellites, that is now done elsewhere.


Obama Moves Ahead With Export Reform Effort


Obama Repeats Call for Export Control Reform
Space News

The White House said in a news release following the speech that details of the new National Export Initiative will be announced in the coming weeks, but the release indicated that the effort includes the creation of the President’s Export Promotion Cabinet and an enhancement of funding for key export promotion programs…


AIA Praises Obama’s Statements on Export Control Reform, Trade Policies


Statement by AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

We’re very pleased that President Obama is making it a priority this year to double exports, enforce trade agreements and reform export controls consistent with national security. Trade expansion and export control modernization are longtime priorities of AIA and recognition of their importance by the President sets a positive tone for action this year.


Sources: Obama Wants to Cancel Moon Program, Spend $6 Billion on Commercial Space


Obama officials: Ares dead and $6bn destined for commercial rockets
Orlando Sentinel

Administration officials and a former astronaut on Wednesday called  President Barack Obama’s plans for NASA “exciting” and “bold”, saying that he was replacing a failed moon program with a new $6 billion project to develop commercial rockets capable of taking astronauts into orbit.


Space Review Looks at Spaceports, Space Science and Missile Defense

Artist Impression of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipOne over Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Artist Impression of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipOne over Spaceport America in New Mexico.

In The Space Review this week:

Jeff Foust examines whether the supply of spaceports is outstripping the number of space planes.

Foust looks at the relationship between science and human spaceflight on the eve of the Obama Administration’s release of a new space policy.

Taylor Dinerman examines the role space assets can play in missile defense.

John K. Strickland, Jr. responds to a recent Dwayne A. Day essay that criticized space advocates for being obsessed with specific space technologies.

Obama Makes Export Reform a Top Priority

Space News reports that President Barack Obama has made export control reform a key priority for the new year.

U.S. President Barack Obama has directed his administration to recommend by no later than Jan. 29 steps leading to an overhaul of the U.S. export control regime, according to a presidential directive signed Dec. 21.