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.

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Culberson Introduces Space Leadership Preservation Act


NASA LOGOWashington, D.C. (John Culberson PR) – Congressman John Culberson (TX-07) today introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act , legislation that will change business as usual at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and create a more stable and accountable space program.

“Too many NASA programs have been cancelled due to cost-overruns, mismanagement or abrupt program changes at the start of each new Administration,” stated Congressman Culberson. “In the last 20 years, NASA has spent more than $20 billion on cancelled programs and our astronauts now rely on the Russians to get to the International Space Station.”

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon Awarded NASA STTR Funding

Astrobotic lander (Credit: Mark Maxwell)

Astrobotic lander (Credit: Mark Maxwell)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic Technology Inc., in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, announces $375,000 in contract awards through NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The three proposals will develop sensing and navigation technologies to expand capability for resource exploration on and under the surface of the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies.

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SpaceX Dragon Abort Test Set for May 6

SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — SpaceX now is targeting Wednesday, May 6, for a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon, a spacecraft under final development and certification through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The test window will open at 7 a.m. EDT.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the test, which will simulate an emergency abort from a test stand on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

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NASA Selects SBIR & STTR Phase 1 Proposals


NASA LOGOWASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected research and technology proposals from 254 small businesses and 39 research institutions in the United States for grants to develop new technologies that will further NASA’s journey to Mars.

The proposals are solicited, vetted and managed through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Proposals that lead to the successful development of ideas and products could result in contracts with a combined approximate value of $47.7 million.

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NASA’s LDSD Arrives in Hawaii in Advance of June Test

Divers retrieve the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator off the coast of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. (Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Divers retrieve the test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator off the coast of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The second test vehicle for NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator project arrived April 25 at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii.  The vehicle now will undergo final assembly and weeks of testing prior to its scheduled experimental flight set for early June. The flight will test two cutting-edge technologies for braking Mars spacecraft.

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Latest NASA Updates on Progress Anomaly

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Progress mission has failed. Scott Kelly, who is aboard the International Space Station, said in an interview with The Associated Press that Russian controllers had told the crew Progress would not dock with the station. The cargo ship will eventually enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.

UPDATE (4/29 9:50 a.m. EDT): Docking has been called off for the Progress 59 spacecraft. Russian flight controllers are continuing to assess the vehicle and what the plan going forward will be. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

UPDATE (4/28 11:00 p.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing attempts to communicate with and troubleshoot issues with the Russian Progress 59 cargo spacecraft as it makes additional passes tonight over Russian ground stations.

UPDATE (4/28 9:35 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers have continued to try and recover telemetry capability with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft this morning. The most recent ground pass started at 9:20 a.m. EDT and flight controllers reported no change in the issues with receiving telemetry data from the unmanned craft. The Russian flight control team attempted to command the vehicle over four orbits flying over Russian ground sites with no success. The next series of ground station passes is expected to resume late Tuesday evening. Teams are standing down on the Thursday docking attempt while Russian teams continue to analyze data and develop a troubleshooting plan going forward.

UPDATE (4/28 8:15 a.m. EDT): Russian flight controllers are continuing to troubleshoot issues with the ISS Progress 59 cargo craft. The spacecraft made another pass over Russian ground stations and continued to experience telemetry problems regarding the deployment of navigational antennas and the pressurization of the manifolds in the propulsion system. Flight controllers also confirmed that the vehicle had entered into a slow spin and have issued commands to attempt to control it.

Mikulski Wants More Money for NASA

Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski doesn’t much like President Obama’s proposed $18.5 billion budget for NASA. And she likes the House Science Committee’s budget even less.

“Although I appreciated what the president advised, I found that the funding for the space program needed to be more robust,” she said. “It’s too spartan and it’s too skimpy.”

Mikulski argued that, despite recent increases, NASA was still underfunded. The 2016 request “is actually less than when Al Gore was vice president,” once corrected for inflation, she said. In fiscal year 2001, the last budget approved while Gore was in office, NASA received $14.2 billion, or nearly $19 billion in present-day dollars….

Mikulski’s promise to increase NASA’s budget puts her on a collision course with the House. While appropriators there have yet to take up a spending bill that includes NASA, an authorization bill to be marked up by the House Science Committee April 30 would offer $18.5 billion for NASA in 2016, the same amount as the administration’s request. That House bill, though, would transfer funds from Earth science and space technology programs to planetary science, the Space Launch System, and Orion.

“They are obsessed with human spaceflight and going to Mars,” she said of the House. She said that while she supported human spaceflight as well, she sought a more balanced program. “We also need space science and the kind of discovery done by technology to lay the groundwork for human discovery.”

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Dava Newman Approved as NASA Deputy Administrator

Dava J. Newman

Dava J. Newman

The Senate has approved Dava J. Newman as NASA’s new deputy administrator by an 87-0 vote. The approval comes 20 months after Lori Garver left the position for the top staff job at the Air Line Pilots Association.

Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [Biography] The White House nominated her for the position in October.

“It’s an enormous honor to serve at NASA in times when our country is extending humanity’s reach into space while strengthening American leadership here on Earth,” Newman said in a statement. “I’m profoundly grateful to President Obama, the United States Senate, and Administrator Bolden – along with everyone at MIT. I can’t wait to come aboard.”

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House Science Committee Explanation for Slashing NASA Science Budget


Capitol Building
WASHINGTON, D.C. (House Science Committee PR) –
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today announced the Committee will mark up the NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 on Thursday of next week. The legislation reaffirms Congress’s commitment to NASA and restores much-needed balance to the nation’s only agency responsible for space exploration. It also supports NASA’s role as a multi-mission agency with programs in science, aeronautics, exploration, and human spaceflight, and makes clear that Mars should be NASA’s primary goal.

“For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration,” stated Chairman Lamar Smith. “We must ensure that the U.S. continues to lead in space for the next 50 years.

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