Sen. Patty Murray Opposes Bridenstine Nomination to Run NASA

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

With his confirmation hearing for the post of NASA administrator scheduled for Nov. 1, Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) is facing opposition from Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) over his opposition to climate change research and “bigoted and hateful statements” he has made about gays, Muslims and women.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s background makes him an extremely concerning choice to lead this critical agency and its 19,000 diverse employees,” Murray wrote in a three-page letter released today.

“Rep. Bridenstine’s denial of climate change and consistent opposition to equal rights for women, immigrants, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals should disqualify him from consideration,” Given his very public statements and positions, its clear Rep. Bridenstine would move us backwards not forwards, and I urge you to vote against his nomination.”

(more…)

Florida Scientists Urge Nelson, Rubio to Oppose Bridenstine Nomination

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A group of more than 40 Florida scientists have signed an open letter to Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to oppose the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become NASA administrator.

“The vital work of NASA’s Earth observation systems must continue without political interference,” the letter states. “We find it troubling that Congressman Bridenstine has repeated misinformation in his quest to deny climate change, notably in 2013 when he suggested that global temperatures were not rising….

“We urge you to oppose Jim Bridenstine’s nomination,” the letter adds. “He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and he is not qualified to lead this prestigious agency.”

(more…)

What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

(more…)

Bridenstine Social Media Posts, Interviews Go Missing

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

A CNN KFile review has found that various social media accounts, postings and radio interviews belonging to and featuring Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) have been deleted this year.

Bridenstine has been nominated to become NASA Administrator and faces confirmation in the Senate. He is facing some push back from Florida’s two senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, who have expressed concerns about putting a politician in charge of the nation’s civilian space agency.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts belonging to Bridenstine’s campaign have been deleted entirely. Several posts on the Facebook page of Bridenstine’s congressional office have also been deleted.

The congressman’s Soundcloud account now only hosts two radio interviews with the congressman, but a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and the Google Cache show there used to be several radio interviews available on the account. Some of the missing interviews appear to be with conservative talk radio hosts like Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham.

Matthew Rydin, a spokesperson for Bridenstine, said the campaign Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were deleted because his office was getting questions about whether Bridenstine was standing by his pledge to only serve three terms, which he is.

“He is not campaigning for any office, so no reason to maintain the campaign accounts,” Rydin said.

Bridenstine’s spokesperson also said that some of the congressman’s radio interviews on Soundcloud might have been dropped as a result of a downgrade in the amount of storage space available on the account. However, according to a Soundcloud FAQ, Soundcloud says it does not delete files if you downgrade to a free account but hides the oldest uploads that exceed the upload limit of three hours. The two tracks currently on Bridenstine’s account total 38 minutes.

Read the full story.

Bridenstine Nomination to Head NASA Faces Opposition From Nelson, Rubio

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

President Donald Trump’s long expected nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next administrator of NASA ran into immediate trouble on Capitol Hill after it was announced on Friday.

Florida’s two Senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, both expressed serious concerns about appointing the three-term Congressman and former U.S. Navy pilot to lead the nation’s space agency.

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson said in a brief written statement to POLITICO.
(more…)

Senate Passes Space Commercialization Act

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON (US Commercial Committee PR) –
U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee Ranking Member Gary Peters (D-Mich.) issued the following statements on the passage of H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan bill that encourages competitiveness, reflects the needs of a modern-day U.S. commercial space industry, and guarantees operation of the International Space Station until at least 2024. The bill builds on key elements in S. 1297 that the Commerce Committee approved earlier this year and passed the Senate on August 4, 2015.

(more…)

USAF Welcomes Blue Origin to Cape Canaveral

Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)
Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)

by 1st Lt. Alicia Premo
USAF Public Affairs

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., September 16, 2015 — The 45th Space Wing expanded commercial space launch operations by welcoming Blue Origin to the Eastern Range during a media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept. 15, 2015.
(more…)

Senate Passes Commercial Space Launch Act

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Senate Commerce Committee PR) –
The U.S. Senate, today, unanimously approved S. 1297, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act, introduced by Commerce Committee Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee chairman Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), full committee ranking member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee ranking member Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and subcommittee members Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The legislation, which the full Commerce Committee approved by voice vote with an amendment on May 20, 2015, extends the operational use of the International Space Station (ISS) until 2024, a regulatory moratorium on commercial space activity through FY 2020, and ensures stability for the continued development and growth of the U.S. commercial space sector and other space initiatives.
(more…)

Senators Urge USAF to Get Moving on New Rocket Engine

Capitol Building
Members of the august body that annually fails to pass a budget on time and dawdles on other important legislation are upset with the U.S. Air Force for taking too much time to develop an entirely new rocket engine from scratch.

Senators James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said they were concerned that the Defense Department and the Air Force were not complying with a law that seeks development of a U.S. alternate engine by 2019.

The senators said the Air Force was not using $220 million appropriated by Congress in the fiscal 2015 budget for work on a new U.S. engine, and had not budgeted enough funds to meet the 2019 deadline.

Congress is pushing for development of a U.S. engine given rising tensions between the United States and Russia over Moscow’s annexation last year of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

In a letter dated March 10, Inhofe and Nelson said Congress made clear with passage of the 2015 defense policy bill that it wanted to see a competition to develop a new engine that would be available for all launch providers.

You might recall that the U.S. Air Force told Congress that appropriating $220 million this year was premature because the service didn’t have a program set up to actually use it.

Read the full story.

 

Space Access Society Update

Earth_from_space_graphic
Space Access Update #136 7/27/14
Copyright 2014 by Space Access Society

In this Issue:

– Bill Gaubatz
– Experienced Engineering Teams And US Space Launch Development Policy
– SLS Sole-Sourcing
– 2014 Space Politics: Halftime Report

  • Senate Appropriations Impasse, Other Legislation
  • Commercial Crew & Cargo at Crossroads
  • Defense Launch & Propulsion Politics

– Supporting Space Access

(more…)

Boeing Unveils CST-100 Mockup at KSC

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)
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)

By Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida took another step down the path of transformation Monday, June 9, when The Boeing Company unveiled detailed plans to convert a shuttle processing facility into an assembly hub for the company’s next generation of crewed spacecraft.

Speaking inside the former engine shop of the spacious Orbiter Processing Facility-3 at Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida said Boeing’s plans demonstrate that the only place in the nation to have launched people into orbit remains well-positioned to serve the future of space exploration, too.

(more…)

Nelson Battles Shelby Over Commercial Crew Accounting Requirements

Florida Senator Bill Nelson
Florida Senator Bill Nelson

UPDATE:  Space News reports that partisan squabbling has postponed a showdown over the commercial crew requirements:

The Senate was poised to begin voting June 19 on a so-called minibus spending package that combined the House-passed 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill (H.R. 4660) with the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture spending bills. But a fight over how amendments would be handled prompted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to indefinitely postpone floor action on the $126 billion spending package. 

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is battling to remove strict federal accounting standards that could significantly raise the cost of NASA’s commercial crew program:

Nelson, the chairman of the Senate Commerce science and space subcommittee, said NASA’s commercial crew program to fly astronauts to and from the international space station aboard commercially designed spacecraft needs “the right mix of oversight and innovation” to start ferrying crews by NASA’s target date of late 2017.

The senior senator from Florida was alluding to a directive Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, personally fought to include in a report appended to a spending bill now awaiting debate on the Senate floor, and which would if signed into law require NASA to either comply with section 15.403-4 of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, or risk a legal mandate to do so….

NASA insists that waiving certain parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulations, which the agency may legally do in certain situations, is vital to getting a commercially designed system safely up and running.

Read the full story.

House Science Committee Approves Commercial Space Launch Liability Indemnification Extension

Capitol Building
UPDATE:  The full House approved the measure by a vote of 376 to 5. So, it’s now a matter of whether Congress will approve the House’s 1-year extension or a 3-year extension being promoted by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

The House Science Committee has approved a one-year extension of the launch liability indemnification law. Under the measure, commercial launch providers must cover third-party losses up to $500 million. The government will step in to pay any losses from $500 million to $1.5 billion. Anything above that level reverts back to the company.

The measure now goes to the full House.  Sen. Bill Nelson is working on his own bill for a three-year extension of the liability law. Those measure will have to be reconciled in a conference committee.

(more…)

Launch Indemnification Regime to be Extended — But for How Long?

Congress wants to extent a cost-sharing agreement between industry and the federal government to cover losses from commercial launch accidents beyond its expiration date at the end of the year. The main question seems to be how long of an extension will be passed.

Legislators in the House have introduced a bi-partisan measure, H.R. 3547, to extend the protections by one year. Over in the Senate, Bill Nelson (D-FL) has introduced S. 1753 to extend the indemnification regime by three years.

Under the system, commercial launch providers must cover third-party losses up to $500 million. The government will step in to pay any losses from $500 million to $1.5 billion. Anything above that level reverts back to the company.

(more…)