Commercial Space Gaining in Obama White House

Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit
Artists conception of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft in orbit

New Course for Space Exploration Promotes Private Firms
Wall Street Journal

The Obama administration appears set to chart a new course for U.S. space exploration by promoting the use of private companies to ferry astronauts into orbit, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Obama Chooses New Heavy Lift Vehicle, Jettisons Ares I

Ares I-X lifts off from the Cape - possibly the one and only launch of the program.
Ares I-X lifts off from the Cape - possibly the one and only launch of the program.

Exclusive:Obama Backs New Launcher and Bigger NASA Budget
ScienceInsider

President Barack Obama will  ask Congress next year to fund a new heavy-lift launcher to take humans to the Moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars, ScienceInsider has learned. The president chose  the new direction for the U.S. human space flight program Wednesday at a White House meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, according to officials familiar with the discussion. NASA would receive an additional $1 billion in 2011 both to get the new launcher on track and to bolster the agency’s fleet of robotic Earth-monitoring spacecraft.

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Representatives to Obama: Give NASA an Extra $3 Billion Per Year

nasa_logoPRESS RELEASE

Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL-24) and Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA-44) sent a bipartisan letter to President Obama signed by 81 members of the U.S. House of Representatives from across the country calling for additional funding for NASA’s human spaceflight program. The large number of cosigners is an indication of the strong national support for human spaceflight and its many benefits.

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What Will NASA Get for Christmas?

ares_Ix_launch

A space policy update from Space News:

Sources close to the administration say a presidential decision based on the Augustine panel’s options is not expected before Christmas. Meanwhile, language contained in the Senate version of the bill could complicate the administration’s efforts to change direction and pursue an alternate architecture by requiring the president to submit proposed changes to the spending plan in the form of a 2010 budget amendment.

Meanwhile, budget maneuvers continue on Capitol Hill. Last week, the Senate passed a $18.7 billion budget for NASA. However, the bill must be reconciled with a House bill that cut $670 million out of the space agency’s human spaceflight program. The reduction was made due to uncertainty over the Obama Administration’s direction on human spaceflight.

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Florida Officials to Press Obama on Jobs

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

The Orlando Sentinel has a report on efforts by Florida officials to press President Barack Obama to stem job losses:

With the space-shuttle program about to end, and no clear sign when NASA’s next rocket will take its place, Space Coast political and aerospace officials agreed Monday that Florida must press President Barack Obama to keep his campaign promise to fund an “ambitious” space program and protect workers at Kennedy Space Center. (more…)

Obama Administration Asks Congress to Restore Nearly $700 Million to Human Spaceflight

Model of NASA's Orion spacecraft
Model of NASA's Orion spacecraft

White House Seeks to Restore Human Spaceflight Funding
Space News

The White House has asked congressional appropriators to restore $670 million cut from NASA’s nearly $4 billion budget request for human space exploration in a version of the 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill the House passed in June, according to congressional and administration sources.

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Obama Nominates Top Budget Official to Oversee NASA Finances

nasa_logo

Obama Taps White House Budget Official for Top NASA Financial Job
Space News

The White House said Sept. 16 it intends to send one of its senior budget officials to NASA to manage the U.S. space agency’s perennially troubled finances.

President Barack Obama’s nominee for the NASA chief financial officer post, Elizabeth “Beth” Robinson, is currently director for budget at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), overseeing the development, enactment and execution of the president’s annual budget request.

If the U.S. Senate approves Robinson’s nomination, she will replace Ronald Spoehel, a former vice president of investment banking at the now-defunct Lehman Brothers and NASA’s top accountant since September 2007. Robinson, like Spoehel, stands to inherit an office that last received a clean independent audit in 2002.

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Will Obama Keep His Promises on Space?

obama-official-portrait

John Kelly: Reality check on Obama space promises
Florida Today

“Let me be clear,” the president said, “we cannot cede our leadership in space. That’s why I am going to close the gap, ensure that our space program doesn’t suffer when the shuttle goes out of service.”

His goal was “making sure that all of those who work in the space industry in Florida do not lose their jobs when the space shuttle is retired because we cannot afford to lose their expertise.”

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Bolden: NASA Not Inspiring Next Generation of Explorers

bolden

OUR VIEWS
Bolden’s right: America must lead or lose in exploration of space
Florida Today

The most telling moment in former astronaut Charlie Bolden’s confirmation hearing Wednesday as NASA’s next boss came in response to a question about how he planned to reinvigorate the agency.

The two-time shuttle commander and retired Marine Corps major general told this story:

When he’d go into a classroom in 1980 and ask students how many of them wanted to be astronauts, every hand went up. But today, he said, “I may see three hands. All of them want to go into business.”

NASA’s inability to inspire a new generation of Americans — along with an inability to gain sustained political support for its efforts in Washington — shows the enormous challenges that Bolden will face when he takes the agency’s helm.

Read the full story.