House Passes Infrastructure Spending Bill With Extra $1 Billion for NASA

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 5376, the Build Back Better Act last week that includes billions of dollars in funds for NASA, NOAA and other scientific and technology agencies.

In addition to funding improvements to physical infrastructure, the measure puts a major emphasis on addressing climate change, a problem that the Biden Administration takes seriously. The previous president described as a Chinese plot to destroy American industry.

The bill now goes to the Senate where its fate is uncertain.

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Vice President Harris Announces Initiatives on Space and Cybersecurity with France

Kamala Harris

PARIS (White House PR) — Following her meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France, Vice President Kamala Harris is announcing a number of collaborative initiatives that the United States will undertake alongside France and other countries to address global issues and emerging threats. She is announcing expanded cooperation on space and support for efforts to advance international cooperation in cybersecurity.  These initiatives underscore the U.S. commitment to work with allies and partners to take on the challenges of the 21st century.
 
Space
 
For decades, the United States and France have benefited from robust cooperation in space across our respective civil, commercial, and national security sectors.  Recognizing the growing importance of space in providing benefits to humanity, from tackling climate challenges and enabling human exploration of space and scientific discovery to ensuring sustainable economic development and security, our countries acknowledge the pivotal role international cooperation plays in sustaining the outer space environment so we may maximize the benefits space offers. Based on this shared vision and over 60 years of joint space activities, the United States and France will seek greater cooperation through the following initiatives:

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This Week in Elon: Musk Mocks Biden Amid Cooler Political Climate, Federal Investigation of Tesla

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It seems that Elon Musk is a bit peeved that President Joe Biden didn’t congratulate SpaceX on completing the privately-funded Inspiration4 crewed mission last week and helping to raise $210 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“He’s still sleeping,” Musk wrote in response to a question from a Twitter follower about Biden’s silence. It was a clear reference to ex-President Donald Trump’s description of him as “sleepy Joe” during the campaign.

The remark set off the usual battle on social media. Musk’s legion of defenders called the omission unforgivable. Musk’s critics noted his willingness to amply praise authoritarian China where Musk’s Tesla Motors has a manufacturing plant even as he called U.S. officials “fascists” for their efforts to contain the deadly COVID-19 virus.

For his part, Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who funded and commanded the Inspiration4 flight, says Biden’s silence is no big deal.

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NASA Would Receive $4.4 Billion Under House Bill; DOE’s Radioisotope Processing Facility Funding Increased

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would received an additional $4.4 billion to perform repairs and upgrades on its aging infrastructure, conduct climate change research and development (R&D) and improve cybersecurity under an infrastructure spending bill now under consideration by the House of Representatives.

The funding does not include any money to fund a second human lander for NASA’s Artemis program that would likely have gone to the National Team led by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. The space agency awarded a single source contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

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NASA Statement on GAO Ruling Regarding Human Landing System Protest

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following is the NASA statement in response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) decision released Friday on the human landing system protest:

“NASA was notified Friday, July 30, that the U.S. Government Accountability Office has denied the protests filed by Blue Origin Federation and Dynetics and has upheld the agency’s source selection of SpaceX to continue the development of its human landing system. The decision enables NASA to award the contract that will ultimately result in the first crewed demonstration landing on the surface of the Moon under NASA’s Artemis plan. Importantly, the GAO’s decision will allow NASA and SpaceX to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years.

“NASA recognizes that sending American astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program and establishing a long-term presence on the Moon is a priority for the Biden Administration and is imperative for maintaining American leadership in space. In the face of challenges during the last year, NASA and its partners have made significant achievements to advance Artemis, including a successful hot fire test for the Space Launch System rocket. An uncrewed flight of Artemis I is on track for this year and a crewed Artemis II mission is planned for 2023. 

“NASA is moving forward with urgency, but astronaut safety is the priority and the agency will not sacrifice the safety of the crew in the steadfast pursuit of the goal to establish a long-term presence on the Moon.

“As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way ahead for Artemis, the human landing system, and humanity’s return to the Moon. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to ensure funding for a robust and sustainable approach for the nation’s return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. commercial partners.” 

Florida Member of House Science Committee is Severely Factually Challenged

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Florida Congressman Michael Waltz is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In January, he completed a two-year on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. So, he should know what he’s talking about on space.

Alas, he is severely factually challenged about the very thing he is supposedly an expert. Here is the assessment he gave to Fox News the other day about NASA and the U.S. space program:

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South Korea Signs Artemis Accords

Republic of Korea (ROK) Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hyesook signs the Artemis Accords during a ceremony May 24 in Seoul. ROK is the 10th country to sign the Artemis Accords, which establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s 21st century lunar exploration plans. (Credits: ROK Ministry of Science and ICT)

SEOUL, South Korea (NASA PR) — The Republic of Korea has become the 10th country to sign the Artemis Accords, which establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in NASA’s 21st century lunar exploration plans. Minister of Science and ICT Lim Hyesook signed the Artemis Accords for the country during a ceremony held May 24 in Seoul. South Korea, whose official name is the Republic of Korea, joins Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and the United States, and is the first nation to sign the Accords under the Biden Administration.

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U.S., South Korea to Deepen Space Cooperation Through Artemis Accords, Satellite Navigation System

The United States will provide support for development of the satellite-based Korean Positioning System (KPS), and South Korea will sign the Artemis Accords that will guide human exploration of the moon, the White House said last week.

The announcement followed a summit in Washington between U.S. President Joe Biden and Republic of Korea (ROK) President Moon Jae-in. A White House fact sheet that described cooperative activities included the following two items:

  • Expand cooperation on space exploration facilitated by the Republic of Korea’s decision to sign the Artemis Accords, joining nine other nations focused on returning to the moon by 2024 and ultimately expand and deepen space exploration.
  • Support for the ROK’s development of its own satellite navigation system, the Korean Positioning System, and enhance its compatibility and interoperability with the Global Positioning System.

The Artemis Accords are a set of principals laying out how the United States and other signatories will go about exploring the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. Signatories include Australia, , Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom. Brazil signed a statement of intent to sign the Artemis Accords in December.

ROK’s space agency, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), described the navigation system as follows:

The KPS Development Plan (draft) is a regional GPS center on the Korean peninsula using three geostationary navigation satellites, four oblique navigation satellites, and terrestrial systems. The goal is to prove the ultra-precision location data service in meter, sub-meter, and centimeter resolutions. The implementation of KPS can guarantee citizens’ safety by operating the national network stably without depending on foreign systems. It is also expected to accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as self-driving automobiles as well as the drone industry by acquiring accurate location information.

Biden-Harris Administration Shows Strong Support for NASA in First 100 Days

President Joe Biden stands with a model of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which achieved its first flight on the Red Planet April 19. (Credits: White House/Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris Administration, NASA has taken bold steps to expand America’s exploration and scientific frontiers, advancing the nation’s commitment to build back better through innovation, combat climate change, re-establish America’s standing abroad, and inspire the next generation.

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Biden Sends NASA CFO Nomination to Senate

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve:

Margaret Vo Schaus, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, National Aeuronatics and Space Administration

Margaret Vo Schaus is a career member of the Senior Executive Service. Over the past decade, she has held numerous leadership roles with responsibility for the financial management and business operations of science and engineering organizations at the Departments of Energy and Defense. She currently serves as the Director for Business Operations in the Office of the Under Secretary Research and Engineering at the Department of Defense, where she is responsible for oversight of a multibillion dollar budget.

Schaus has been recognized with awards including the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Exceptional Civilian Service Award, the Department of Energy’s Distinguished Career Service Award, and the Secretary of Energy’s Honor Award.  She is a first-generation Vietnamese American, born in Michigan and raised in southern California. She received a B.A. in Science, Technology, and Society as well as English from Stanford University, and a M.S. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

Biden Nominates Oceanographer to Lead NOAA

Credit: Matt Wade

WASHINGTON – Today, on Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve and further the Biden Administration’s commitment to a modern sustainable infrastructure and clean energy future.

Rick Spinrad, Nominee for Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce

Dr. Rick Spinrad is a Professor of Oceanography at Oregon State University (OSU), and a member of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies.  In 2016 he retired as Chief Scientist of NOAA, appointed by President Obama. He was the VP for Research at OSU, and was the head of NOAA’s Research Office and the National Ocean Service. He co-led the White House Committee developing the nation’s first set of ocean research priorities.

Dr. Spinrad was a Senior Executive with the US Navy, and was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award (highest Navy civilian award), has held faculty appointments at three universities, and was President of Sea Tech, Inc. He also created the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, and was the U.S. representative to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

Spinrad received Presidential Rank Awards from Presidents Bush and Obama, and is a Fellow of 4 professional societies. He holds degrees from The Johns Hopkins University and OSU.

NASA Statement on Nomination of Pam Melroy for Agency Deputy Administrator

The following is a statement from Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk on Friday’s announcement of the intended nomination by President Joe Biden of former NASA astronaut Pam Melroy to serve as the agency’s deputy administrator:

“Pam’s experience as an astronaut, space shuttle commander, and U.S. Air Force test pilot would bring to NASA a unique perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the agency. Pam is driven by a desire to solve the biggest issues here on Earth, throughout the solar system, and beyond. She is a proven leader with bold vision and, if confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working with her and Sen. Nelson to ensure NASA’s future success.”

One of only two women to command a space shuttle, Melroy logged more than 38 days in space. All three of her missions were assembly missions to build the International Space Station. After serving more than two decades in the Air Force and as a NASA astronaut, Melroy took on a number of leadership roles, including at Lockheed Martin, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Nova Systems Pty, Australia, and as an advisor to the Australian Space Agency. She currently is an independent consultant and a member of the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group.

Melroy’s agency bio is available at:

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/melroy_pamela.pdf

For information about NASA’s missions, discoveries, and activities, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov

Report: Biden to Retain National Space Council

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew Exploration Flight Test-1 on Dec. 5, 2014 is seen on the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where final assembly, integration and testing was completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to the spacecraft. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Politico reports that the Biden Administration will retain the National Space Council. The council was revived by the Trump Administration in 2017 to coordinate national space activities after a 24-year gap in operation.

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NASA Joins White House National Climate Task Force

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As a leading agency observing and understanding environmental changes to Earth, NASA has joined the National Climate Task Force. President Joe Biden issued an executive order Jan. 27, which initially outlined details of the task force.

The administration’s climate agenda outlines putting climate at the center of the country’s foreign policy and national security and encourages a governmentwide approach to climate change.

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Biden Nominates Bill Nelson to be NASA Administrator

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, center, and former astronaut Chris Ferguson survey a mockup of the CST-100 spacecraft under development by The Boeing Company during a ceremony detailing Boeing’s plans to use Orbiter Processing Facility-3 as a manufacturing hub for the capsule-shaped spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

WASHINGTON (White House PR) – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Bill Nelson to serve as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator.

Bill Nelson, Nominee for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator

Senator Bill Nelson, former U. S. Senator, is a fifth generation Floridian whose family came to Florida in 1829.  He has served in public office over four decades, first in the state legislature and U. S. Congress, then as State Treasurer.  He was elected three times to the United States Senate, representing the third largest state for 18 years.  His committees included the breadth of government policy from defense, intelligence and foreign policy to finance, commerce and health care.

Nelson chaired the Space Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives for 6 years and in the Senate was the Chairman or Ranking Member of the Senate Space and Science Subcommittee and Ranking Member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.  Most every piece of space and science law has had his imprint, including passing the landmark NASA bill of 2010 along with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson.  That law set NASA on its present dual course of both government and commercial missions. In 1986 he flew on the 24th flight of the Space Shuttle. The mission on Columbia, orbited the earth 98 times during six days.  Nelson conducted 12 medical experiments including the first American stress test in space and a cancer research experiment sponsored by university researchers.  In the Senate he was known as the go-to senator for our nation’s space program.  He now serves on the NASA Advisory Council.