Trump Appoints Christopher Shank to NASA Landing Team

Christopher Shank
Christopher Shank

President elect Donald Trump has appointed Christopher Shank to the NASA transition landing team. Shank was most recently the policy and coalitions director for the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and was formerly deputy chief of staff for Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). He also served as NASA’s director of strategic investments and chief of strategic communications under President George W. Bush.

Mark Albrecht, who had been reportedly involved in the NASA transition, was been added to the landing team for the Department of Defense.

Shank’s LinkedIn profile is below.

Christopher Shank
LinkedIn Profile

Policy and Coalitions Director
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee
January 2013 – Present (3 years 11 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Directs the Committee’s legislative and hearing agenda for broad portfolio of issues ranging from energy and environment/climate change, space exploration, and various research and technology initiatives across five subcommittees, engaging 22 Science Committee Members of Congress, in coordination with House Leadership.

Deputy Chief of Staff
Congressman Lamar Smith
March 2011 – Present (5 years 9 months)

Senior Director, Space, Networks, and Communications Business Development
Honeywell Aerospace
November 2009 – March 2011 (1 year 5 months)
Washington D.C. Metro Area

Assistant Group Supervisor
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
February 2009 – October 2009 (9 months)

Director of Strategic Investments and Chief of Strategic Communications
NASA
April 2005 – January 2009 (3 years 10 months)

  • Senior agency official responsible for directing strategic messaging across all NASA mission directorates, program offices, and field centers. Directed 120-person NASA HQ staff including 10 senior executives responsible for $150 million/year education portfolio, legislative and intergovernmental affairs, and NASA public relations/special events.
  • Key member of NASA’s Management Councils with other Headquarters Officials-in-Charge, Associate Administrators, and Center Directors
  • Responsible for formulating and defending NASA’s annual budget requests and operating plans of $18 billion to the White House and Congress. Led 30-person HQ office, with hundreds more people in matrix support across agency.

Professional Staff Member
House Science Committee
April 2001 – April 2005 (4 years 1 month)

Officer
US Air Force
May 1990 – March 2001 (10 years 11 months)

Education

University of Colorado Boulder
M.S., Aerospace Engineering
1995 – 1996

University of Notre Dame
B.A., Mathematics
1986 – 1990

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.

Smith, Bridenstine Congratulate Spire on NOAA Contract

spire_logo2WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) — U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX21), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, along with U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK1), chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment for the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statements congratulating Spire, Inc., a private sector weather company, on earning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration first contract to acquire data from a commercial weather satellite constellation. Spire has been hired to provide GPS Radio Occultation data to increase weather forecasting.

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NASA, Air Force & Others Weigh in on SpaceX Falcon 9 Accident

Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)
Falcon 9 explodes on the launch pad. (Credit: USLaunchReport.com)

NASA

“We remain confident in our commercial partners and firmly stand behind the successful 21st century launch complex that NASA, other federal agencies, and U.S. commercial companies are building on Florida’s Space Coast. Today’s incident — while it was not a NASA launch — is a reminder that spaceflight is an incredible challenge, but our partners learn from each success and setback.

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House Science Committee Wades into Clinton Email Controversy

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

The House Committee on Science, Technology and Space has waded into the Hillary Clinton email controversy, issuing subpoenas to three companies that provided software and services on a private email server to the presidential candidate during her time as Secretary of State (see press release below).

Apparently this matter comes within the purview of the Science Committee because the body wants to determine whether the “cybersecurity standards and measures used to protect information stored on Secretary Clinton’s private server were in accord with NIST standards.”

OK. Maybe. Or maybe not.

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House Space Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Astronaut Health Care

Working outside the International Space Station on the second spacewalk of Expedition 45, Nov. 6, 2015. (Credits: NASA)
Working outside the International Space Station on the second spacewalk of Expedition 45, Nov. 6, 2015. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (House Space Subcommittee PRs) — On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space  on held a hearing titled Human Spaceflight Ethics and Obligations: Options for Monitoring, Diagnosing, and Treating Former Astronauts. The hearing examined NASA’s existing health care program for current and former astronauts.

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Smith, Babin Question NOAA Delay on DigitalGlobe License

DigitalGlobe_logoWASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) — Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) lack of decision on granting DigitalGlobe a license to operate a space-based remote sensing system.

The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 requires Secretary Pritzker to review and make a determination on any space-based remote sensing system license applications or inform the applicant of any pending issues.

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Why the Space Leadership Preservation Act is Necessary

Capitol Building
By House Science Committee Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today held a hearing on The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the need for stability at NASA. The hearing featured input from former astronaut and first female Space Shuttle pilot and commander, Eileen Collins, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, and Rep. John Culberson, author of the Space Leadership Preservation Act.

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Lamar Smith on Obama’s Budget: I HATE It!

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

“This administration cannot continue to tout plans to send astronauts to Mars while strangling the programs that will take us there. President Obama’s FY17 budget proposal shrinks our deep space exploration programs by more than $800 million. And the administration once more proposes cuts of more than $100 million to the Planetary Science accounts, which have previously funded missions like this past year’s Pluto flyby. At the same time this proposal shrinks space exploration priorities within NASA’s budget, it disproportionately increases Earth Science accounts to more than $2 billion – a seventy percent increase since 2007. This imbalanced proposal continues to tie our astronauts’ feet to the ground and makes a Mars mission all but impossible. This is not the proposal of an administration that is serious about maintaining America’s leadership in space.”

— Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Chairman, House Committee on Science, Space & Technology

Smith’s statement is reproduced in full after the link.
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House Members Want NASA to Develop Human Space Exploration Roadmap

Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth's moon. (Credit: NASA)
Artists concept of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission capturing an asteroid boulder before redirecting it to an astronaut-accessible orbit around Earth’s moon. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Science Committee PR) – On Wednesday, the House Subcommittee on Space held a hearing titled,Charting a Course: Expert Perspectives on NASA’s Human Exploration Proposals.” Witnesses shared their viewpoints on NASA’s human space exploration plans – including a human mission to Mars – and the challenge of keeping programs on track through changing presidential administrations.

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Praise for NASA’s Commercial Cargo Contract Awards

CSF_logo2Commercial Spaceflight Federation

NASA announced three cargo contract awards to ensure robust and affordable transportation of critical supplies, scientific experiments and commercial payloads to and from the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2024. NASA selected Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX to continue and expand upon its successful public-private partnerships with American companies to obtain reliable cargo resupply services for the ISS.

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Smith, Babin Praise Successful Reusable Rocket Test in Texas

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

Washington, D.C. (House Science PR) – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) today praised a private space company’s successful test of a reusable rocket at a test facility in West Texas. The company, Blue Origin, was the first ever to successfully launch and vertically land a rocket, which enables reuse.

Chairman Lamar Smith: “We are living in historic and exciting times. Congratulations to Blue Origin on the successful launch and landing of the New Shepard rocket yesterday in West Texas. Reusable rockets could revolutionize the space industry and promise to make future space exploration more affordable.  This is one of many firsts for American space innovators and it is the reason why the SPACE Act that Congress recently passed is so important. Texas continues to play a leading role in America’s space story, just as we have for the last 50 years.”

Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin: “Blue Origin’s successful flight is a significant step in making space tourism a reality in Texas and the United States.  Congratulations to the entire team for their vision, ingenuity and tireless efforts in ensuring the United States is the home of commercial space.”

The test comes on the heels of passage of the SPACE Act, landmark bipartisan legislation that encourages private American space companies to continue investing in crucial research, development, and testing without the threat of new and overbearing government regulations. Chairman Smith partnered with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), lead sponsor of the bill, to see it through to final passage in the House and Senate. It now awaits the president’s signature.

House Praise for Space Measure Passage

Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Leadership PR) –
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today praised Senate passage of a bicameral, bipartisan agreement on H.R. 2262, the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act. The bill consolidates language from the House-passed Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 or SPACE Act with provisions from S.1297, the Senate’s commercial space legislation. It provides much-needed guidance and regulatory certainty for America’s private space industry partners.
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Smith Explodes as NASA Delays First Crewed Orion Flight

NASA's Orion with the European Service Module (Credit: ESA–D. Ducros)
NASA’s Orion with the European Service Module (Credit: ESA–D. Ducros)

NASA announced this week the first crewed flight of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep space crew module would slip from 2021 to no later than April 2023. The decision followed the completion of a “rigorous technical and programmatic review.”

“The commitment is consistent with funding levels in the president’s budget request,” the space agency said n a press release. “Conservative cost and schedule commitments outlined in the KDP-C align the Orion Program with program management best practices that account for potential technical risks and budgetary uncertainty beyond the program’s control.”

The announcement caused House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) to blow a gasket.

“Once again, the Obama administration is choosing to delay deep space exploration priorities such as Orion and the Space Launch System that will take U.S. astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” Smith said in a press release. “While this administration has consistently cut funding for these programs and delayed their development, Congress has consistently restored funding as part of our commitment to maintaining American leadership in space. We must chart a compelling course for our nation’s space program so that we can continue to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers and explorers.  I urge this administration to follow the lead of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s NASA Authorization Act to fully fund NASA’s exploration programs.”

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Congressmen Concerned About SpaceX Failure Investigation

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Congress has weighed in on the investigation into the loss of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in June, accusing NASA of giving the company special treatment and calling upon the U.S. Air Force to take an active role in the probe.

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