Bill Nelson Concedes Senate Race to Rick Scott

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has conceded the Senate race to Republican rival Rick Scott after a recount. Scott, who is leaving his job as Florida governor, won by 10,033 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast.

Nelson, who has been a strong supporter of NASA, has held the Senate seat for 18 years. He previously served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991.

During his time in the House, he flew into space as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986.

Scott has also been a strong supporter of the space program during his time as governor. Space Florida, which serves as the state’s space agency, has spent millions of dollars on infrastructure improvements and other incentives at Cape Canaveral to lure commercial companies to operate there.

Nelson was one of three prominent space advocates to lose re-election bids. Rep. John Culberson. Republican lost his bid to continue representing Texas’ 7th district. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will also be departing after 30 years in the House.

House Space Subcommittee Members Criticize Inaction on Bridenstine Nomination

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Members of the House Space Subcommittee were none-too-pleased on Wednesday when Robert Lightfoot showed up to testify about NASA’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget.

It had nothing to do with Lightfoot, whom members praised effusively for the job he’s done as acting administrator over the past 13 months. Lightfoot, a career civil servant, took over after Charles Bolden resigned as the President Barack Obama ended his term.

Instead, their anger was focused on the Senate, which has yet to take action on the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to serve as NASA’s administrator six months after President Donald Trump nominated him.


Harper, Trump & Science a la Carte: A Warning From Canada

Stephen Harper and cat.
Stephen Harper and cats.

Canadian science writer Graham Templeton says the election of Donald Trump and a Republican controlled Congress threatens a repeat of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s nine-year war on science.

Though Americans might be surprised to hear it, Canada offers a good example of why there is a very real need to worry, and of how the coming anti-science administration could realistically affect all of national research. My home and native land has been a fair ways down the road America is just now preparing to travel and, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the endpoint is absolutely disastrous….


NSS Space Settlement Campaign Supports Elon Musk’s Mars Settlement Plans

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)
A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON, DC, September 27, 2016 (NSS PR) — At today’s meeting of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, Elon Musk, CEO of Space X, announced his bold plan to build a city on Mars. For over 40 years the National Space Society has led advocacy for space settlement.


Rohrabacher Introduces Space Development & Settlement Act

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would enshrine the development and human settlement of space as one of NASA’s objectives.

The Space Exploration, Development, and Settlement (SEDS) Act of 2016 would require NASA pursue “the expansion of permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy.”

Rohrabacher’s bill would add the following text to the National Aeronautics and Space Act:

Exploration, development, and settlement of space.—The Congress declares that expanding permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy will enhance the general welfare of the United States and requires the Administration to encourage and support the development of permanent space settlements.

SPACE SETTLEMENT.—The term ‘space settlement’ means any community of humans living beyond Earth’s atmosphere that is able to economically sustain its population through a neutral or positive balance of trade of goods and services, and is able to expand its habitable real estate as need and desire of the community may warrant and international law permits.”.

The measure would require the NASA Administrator to produce a report every two years on the space agency’s progress “toward expanding permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit in a way that enables human settlement and a thriving space economy.”

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

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 Gives Industry What It Wants

Capitol Building
The commercial space industry had a great day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the Republican-controlled House Science Committee giving it most of what it wanted while swatting away proposed changes from the minority Democrats.

Among the goodies approved by the committee: a decade-long extension of the moratorium on regulating commercial human spaceflight;  a nine-year extension of industry-government cost sharing for damages caused by launch accidents; and an act that would give companies property rights to materials they mine from asteroids.


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.

Irony-Free Legislators Target Space Settlement, NASA Reorg

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

The hard working but chronically underachieving members of Congress have been back at it. And that means all sorts of legislation ranging from good to bad to what the frak? Some of it relates to space.

Settlement Act

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is preparing to introduce the Space Exploration, Development and Settlement Act that would enshrine permanent human settlement as part of the National Aeronautics and Space Act, the legislation that created NASA and includes its goals and objectives.

The measure is being spearheaded by the Alliance for Space Development (ASD), a coalition of 11 space organizations that launched earlier this year. ASD has been trying to line up Congressional support for the legislation.


Space Development Alliance Lays Out Ambitious Agenda

The new Alliance for Space Development (ASD) has set out an ambitious agenda for itself, with a set of objectives that include radically reducing the cost of getting to orbit and expanding NASA’s purpose to support the settlement of humanity off the Earth.


Rohrabacher Pushes Back on House Plan to Limit Commercial Crew to “Cost-Type” Contracts

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

A note from the Space Frontier Foundation:

This year, the US Congress is working to re-authorize NASA, which includes re-visiting the funding authorization and overall strategy.  As part of that, the House Science Subcommittee on Space produced a draft bill recently.  On the issue of Commercial Crew, the draft bill showed promise, as it authorized $700 Million for the program.  However, the subcommittee put ISS acces in danger by requiring the program to be run using a cost contract, rather than a commercial fixed-price contract, or even better — a Space Act Agreement.  Fortunately, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who is Vice Chair of the full Science Committee, is pushing back.


Rohrabacher: Space Launch System Makes No Sense

Rep. Dan Rohrabacher
Rep. Dan Rohrabacher

By Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
Vice Chairman,
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Although I strongly agree with much of the Committee’s Views and Estimates, there is one specific area on which I wish to state a different view, as I have done for the past few years.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

We have not yet received a budget request from the President for Fiscal Year 2014, and the previous request did not contain any real budget planning for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Smith to Lead House Science Commitee

Rep. Lamar Smith

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, will take over as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology when the new Congress convenes in January. He will replace Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who was term limited under House rules.

Smith, who had seniority on the committee, beat out Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, and Dana Rohrabacher, R-California.

Smith has been a vocal critic of the Obama Administration’s space policy, which has focused heavily on commercializing access to low Earth orbit. He also is a skeptic about global warming, positions he share with Sensenbrenner and Rohrabacher.

Rohrabacher is arguably the leading proponent of commercializing space activities in Congress.

Sensenbrenner, Rohrabacher Vie With Smith to Lead House Science Committee

Jim Sensenbrenner

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With the elections over, the race to succeed Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. On Thursday, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) both formally threw their hats into the ring in a race that also includes Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX).

Hall, who has been a major critic of the Obama Administration’s commercial space push, is leaving his chairmanship because he is term limited under Republican House rules to serving six years in the position.

Rohrabacher has been a major proponent of commercializing spaceflight and has backed the Obama Administration’s efforts in this area. He also has been a major proponent of more oil and gas drilling and a skeptic of global warming, positions that he shares with Smith and Sensenbrenner.