Senate Appropriators Reject Trump’s Cut to Weather Satellite Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee has rejected a proposal by the Trump Administration for a significant funding in a key NOAA weather satellite program.

Senate appropriators have provided $419 million for the Polar Follow-on (PFO) program for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018). The program is aimed on developing two Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft to follow two already funded JPSS satellites.  The JPSS-1 satellite is scheduled for launch later this year.


Smith Introduces American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced H.R. 2809, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017.

The American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act of 2017 simplifies and strengthens the outdated space-based remote sensing regulatory system. At the same time, this bill enhances U.S. compliance with international obligations, improves national security and removes regulatory barriers facing new and innovative space companies.


AIA Policy Recommendations for Improving U.S. Space Competitiveness

Engine for Growth:
Analysis and Recommendations for U.S. Space Industry Competitiveness

Aerospace Industries Association
May 2017
[Full Report]

Policy Recommendations
for Strengthening U.S. Space Competitiveness

1. Level the Playing Field

Provide a responsive regulatory environment for commercial space activities. The list of commercial space activities is varied and growing, ranging from traditional applications such as satellite telecommunications to emerging ones like space resource utilization. At the same time, the U.S. space industry is governed by multiple federal agencies with disparate regulatory interests, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration and Departments of State and Commerce. These agencies often suffer from funding and staffi ng shortages, a situation that creates bottlenecks in licensing processes and slows responsiveness to technological and market changes. The new Administration should work closely with Congress to ensure that the appropriate space regulatory agencies are fully resourced and staffed.

Smith, Babin Examine Policy Governing Indian Launch Vehicles

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information.

Yesterday’s letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy. The letters can be found here.

Harnessing the Small Satellite Revolution

Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)
Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

by Steve Fetter and Tom Kalil
White House OSTP

Today, astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly are visiting the White House to talk to the President about developing innovative new space technologies. One critical area for technology development is making satellites more affordable, adaptable, and adept at providing the sorts of real-time information that will help advance knowledge out in space and on Earth.


AIA Commercial Space Competitiveness Strategy for the 21st Century

Commercial Space Competitiveness Strategy for the 21st Century
Aerospace Industries Association

The United States was the leader in space for much of the early Space Age after initial Soviet successes. From the development of the Saturn V rocket and the Apollo Lunar landing program, to development of the first communications satellites and the Global Positioning System, the U.S. has been the primary driver of both the exploration and commercial utilization of space.


House Science Committee Approves Commerce Department Space Measures

Capitol Building
Although members of the House Science Committee clashed on asteroid mining and FAA regulating on Wednesday, they did manage to approve two commercial measures with bi-partisan support.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), the Commercial Remote Sensing Act would require the Commerce Department to produce annual reports on actions taken relating to remote sensing. The information would include lists of applicants, applications approved and denied, and related data.


House Science Committee to Mark Up 4 Space Measures Wednesday

Capitol Building
The House Science Committee is back in action on Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT, marking up four bills focused on commercial space. The measures include:

The Office of Space Commerce Act would rename the Department of Commerce’s Office of Space Commercialization to the Office of Space Commerce. The bill by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) also would add the following responsibilities to the office’s mandate:

“(1) foster the conditions for the economic growth and technological advancement of the United States space commerce industry;

‘‘(2) coordinate space commerce policy issues and actions within the Department of Commerce;

‘‘(3) represent the Department of Commerce in the development of United States policies and in negotiations with foreign countries to promote United States space commerce;

“(4) promote the advancement of United States geospatial technologies related to space commerce, in cooperation with relevant interagency working groups; and

“(5) provide support to Federal Government organizations working on Space-Based Positioning Navigation, and Timing policy, including the National Coordination Office for Space-Based Position, Navigation, and Timing.’’

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), the Commercial Remote Sensing Act would require the Commerce Department to produce annual reports on licenses issued to commercial space companies. The department also would be required to submit a report to Congress on any statutory changes required to protect the nation’s remote sensing technology base and national security.

UT at Brownsville Gets $10 Million for Space Commercialization Efforts

Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor's Office)
Elon Musk (center) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry break ground on a new launch complex. (Credit: Texas Governor’s Office)

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Gov. Rick Perry has announced a combined investment of $9 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and The University of Texas System to create a powerful research and technology commercialization partnership that will create limitless possibilities for South Texas.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker has also announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding $1.2 million to the University of Texas at Brownsville. The EDA investment will help build a high-tech business incubation facility that will spur new business development associated with the region’s growing space industry cluster, according to the grantee.


New Export Rules Will Be Looser, More Complicated

Capitol Building
The good news is that the U.S. government is about to loosen the restrictive export rules governing satellites and components that have been blamed for destroying America’s dominance in the satellite market over the past 15 years.

The bad news is that the rules are about to get a lot more complicated to interpret. And, for those who fail to interpret them properly, a jail cell could be in their future.


ISRO Chief Too Busy With Scandal to Meet With U.S. Commerce Secretary

Gary Locke

A scheduled meeting between ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was canceled by the Indian side due to the ongoing Devas Multimedia controversy:

The scheduled meeting between Locke and Radhakrishnan was to take place in Bangalore last week where the commerce secretary also visited the air show. With Isro finally out of the US “entities list”, the meeting was to explore commercial cooperation including satellite launches and other applications.

But with Isro’s commercial arm Antrix precisely in the middle of a controversy surrounding allegations that it sold space-segment airwaves cheaply to Devas Multimedia and the Prime Minister’s Office under opposition fire, Radhakrishnan did not keep his date with Locke. He was busy putting together the government’s defence….


Commerce Secretary Locke Leads High-Tech Trade Mission to India

Gary Locke

Following the removal of sanctions against ISRO and other Indian Organizations, Commerce Department Secretary Gary Locke is leading a six-day trade mission to the subcontinent that begins on Feb. 6. Executives from Boeing and Lockheed Martin are among representatives from 24-high tech companies who will accompany the secretary. Boeing has expressed interest in supplying technologies for India’s planned human spaceflight program.

Jan. 14, 2011

Twenty-four U.S. businesses will join Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for a business development mission to India on February 6-11.  The businesses joining the trade mission are based in 13 states across the country and more than half of them are small- and medium-sized companies.

The delegation, which also includes senior officials from the Export-Import Bank (EX-IM) and the Trade Development Agency (TDA), will make stops in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, where Locke will highlight export opportunities for U.S. businesses in the advanced industrial sectors, of civil-nuclear trade, defense and security, civil aviation, and information and communication technologies. Locke accompanied President Obama to India in November, where they witnessed more than $10 billion in business deals between U.S. companies and Indian private sector and government entities, supporting 50,000 American jobs.


Transition Update: Richardson to Commerce?

Multiple reports have the Obama transition team vetting New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson for the post of Secretary of Commerce. Richardson has been in the running for Secretary of State, but reports have the president-elect offering that slot to Hillary Clinton after the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. has a short piece on the subject. There’s also discussion of what it would mean to have a prominent New Space supporter heading up the Commerce Department over at Jeff Foust’s Space Politics blog. This is an excellent source for transition-related news and views.

UPDATE: Barack Obama did announce his selection of Richardson for Commerce Secretary on Monday. The nomination is subject to Senate approval.