Mikulski Decides 40 Years in Congress is Enough

Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski announced on Monday that she would not be seeking a sixth term next year, bringing a 40-year Congressional career to an end and depriving NASA of one of its most powerful supporters.

Mikulski, 78, said she would rather spend the next two years working on behalf of her constituents rather than raising money and running for re-election. She has served in the Senate since 1987 following a 10-year stint representing Maryland’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mikulski is the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the committee’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) subcommittee, which oversees NASA’s budget. She headed the Appropriations Committee from December 2012 until January 2015.

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Oscar Winning Actor Eddie Redmayne’s PSA for NASA

Video Caption: Stephen Hawking, one of the most prominent cosmologists of our time, has given voice to the great heights humanity can achieve. Recently, actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays Professor Hawking in the film “The Theory of Everything,” took time to explain the inspirational relationship between Professor Hawking and NASA’s mission and programs.

NASA’s Busy, Successful Year in Space & On Earth

Orion splashed down safely in the Pacific after its first test flight. (Credit: NASA)
Orion splashed down safely in the Pacific after its first test flight. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.

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NSS Opposes House Bill Limiting Cancellation of NASA Programs

nss_logoNSS Press Release

The Washington DC-based National Space Society (NSS) strongly opposes the passage of House of Representatives bill HR 3625. This bill would (a) require NASA to obtain legislative permission to cancel four of its most expensive human spaceflight and science programs, and (b) allow contractors for these programs to have immediate access to hundreds of millions of dollars in funds which currently are held in reserve to pay the government’s obligations in the event of such termination. The four covered programs are the Space Launch System, the Orion crew capsule, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the International Space Station.

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More Nonsense From Congress

“This show ain’t no good.” Elvis cancels The Scratchy Show. (Credit: The Simpsons/20th Century Fox)

Jeff Foust has a long and rather depressing accounting of the Senate hearing on NASA’s budget yesterday.  Some of the nonsensical things that were said:

Sen. Richard Shelby: “Mr. Administrator, I believe that the core mission of NASA is to build cutting-edge systems that allow us to expand our knowledge of the universe.”

Shelby’s “cutting edge systems” involve a monster Space Launch System (SLS) based on shuttle booster technologies designed in the 1970’s that will cost a fortune to build, maintain and operate.  In fact, it’s so expensive that we won’t be able to fly it very often, limiting our ability to explore the universe.  (more…)

AAS Supports President’s Proposed NASA Budget

AAS PR — The American Astronomical Society (AAS) today issued a statement thanking President Obama for his strong support of science as embodied in his proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2013 but asking him and the Congress to strive harder to maintain a balance of small, medium, and large space missions in astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, and solar physics. Some provisions of the President’s FY 2013 budget, especially a 20 percent cut in NASA’s planetary science funding, threaten to undermine the recommendations of recent decadal surveys of these fields by the National Academy of Sciences.

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Congress’ Budget: A Big Win for Big Rocket

We’re going to take a closer look at the NASA budget that Senate and House conferees approved this week. As will see, Congress cares about little else but heavy-lift and the Orion MPCV when it comes to human spaceflight, commercial crew got slashed, the James Webb Telescope has lived to slip another day, and a crack has opened in the ban on cooperation with China.

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Congressional Spending Plan Slashes CCDev Request by 52 Percent

Lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a NASA budget that will provide $406 million to the Commercial Crew Development program, a 52 percent decrease from the $850 million requested by the Obama Administration. The amount exactly splits the difference between the $312 million the House proposed and the $500 million the Senate wanted to spend.

The overall spending plan is $17.8 billion, which is $100 million less than the Senate wanted but above the House’s proposed $16.8 billion budget. The Obama Administration had requested $18.7 billion. Key priorities in the Congressional plan include the Space Launch System, the Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle, and the James Webb Space Telescope.

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Space Review: The Destroy Everything Edition

A Titan rocket explodes just after liftoff. (Credit: USAF)
A Titan rocket explodes just after liftoff. Not a good day for the Air Force. (Credit: USAF)

This week in The Space Review

  • HLV! HLV! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again! That is basically Lou Friedman’s view of the job creating, budget busting heavy-lift vehicle that Congress has thrust upon a reluctant NASA.
  • Todd Neff looks at the vastly over budget and behind schedule James Webb Space Telescope, which threatens to scuttle and delay other valuable projects.
  • Jeff Foust reports on some the measures the US and other countries can take to make sure orbital debris, satellite collisions, and anti-satellite weapons don’t destroy space as a useful place to visit and do work.
  • Jeff Foust reviews a book by an astronomer who helped to obliterate Pluto’s status as a planet.
  • Dwayne Day continues his look at the long-since-canceled and little mourned TV show “Defying Gravity,” ABC’s valiant effort to wipe out the space science fiction genre once and for all.