jump to navigation

NASA Authorization Bill Passed by House September 30, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : Commercial Crew Development [CCDev], Constellation, NASA, National Space Policy, Obama, Space Shuttle , add a comment

The Senate version of the NASA Authorization Bill has been passed by the House!

The bill, approved late Wednesday, gives NASA clearer ‘marching orders’ (as Rick Tumlinson put it on the Huffington Post) going forward, and allows Congress its own modifications on (while finalizing) Obama’s new direction for the space program.

A breakdown:

It’s good to see a bill passed that doesn’t dramatically alter Obama’s vision, and it is nice to see that new heavy lift moved up four years—even if it potentially is reusing parts of the Shuttle and Ares systems. With the new plan basically bypassing the Moon (as private companies lodge it in their sights), moving up the rocket four years could mean any NASA involvement on (or benefit from) the Moon could happen that much sooner.

For great in-depth coverage of the lead-up and reactions to the bill, check out Space Politics and NASA Watch :)

A Stimulating Development?: NASA Assigns $50 Million in Stimulus Funds for Commercial Orbital Passenger Service August 10, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in : economy, Obama, Paragon, private sector, Space Shuttle, SpaceX , 1 comment so far

In an interesting economic development, NASA said today that $50 million in economic stimulus funds will be going towards developing commercial passenger service to orbit (to replace the retired Space Shuttle and to avoid pricey seats on the Russian Soyuz).

Private company SpaceX won one of two cargo contracts for the ISS back in January, and the Dragon craft they are using is designed to be modifiable to a human-passenger mode. NASA is holding a workshop this Thursday for SpaceX and other interested firms (quoted by the Reuters article as Ball Aerospace, Airborne Systems, Boeing, Tether Applications, Retro Aerospace, Emergent Space Technologies, Davidson Technologies, and Paragon Space Development Corp., many of whom appear specialized for certain systems).

Obama’s campaign space plan had hinted at this in the past—the idea of private U.S. space industry as stimulus. Frontiers do have a way of pushing economies along, so this could to be a road to developments much like the railroad projects of old. Considering the potential, Obama’s campaign plan, and certain past Obama decisions, there could be a lot more of this to come, and soon…

Bush Signs New NASA Authorization Act: One More Shuttle, Faster Orion (News) October 17, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Bush, Current News, NASA, Obama, Orion (craft), Soyuz, Space Shuttle , add a comment

Today, President Bush signed into law a new NASA Authorization Act with some interesting folds in regards to NASA’s development, especially in regards to the Space Shuttle program.

The act authorizes $20.2 billion for NASA, including funding for an additional space shuttle flight , originally planned for retirement in 2010.

The gap between the shuttle’s retirement and the first flights of the Orion craft in 2014-2015 has created some concern, with the Russian Soyuz being the main stopgap option; recently, a measure was passed in Congress to allow NASA to purchase Soyuz craft (instead of having to piggyback); an interesting side note is that the Soyuz purchase waiver was something that Barack Obama discussed and then became involved with, with his running mate Joe Biden being the sponsor of the waiver. NASA’s future is clearly attracting some high-profile attention lately.

The new authorization act also calls for $1 billion in additional funding to accelerate the Orion program.

For the full text of the act, check out the always dependable SpaceRef.com’s posting of it here.

NASA Chief Mike Griffin's Interesting 50th Anniversary Comments October 8, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Apollo, Constellation, cooperation, Fusion Power, Helium-3, McCain, NASA, Obama, Space Shuttle , add a comment

Recently, Michael Griffin (Administrator, a.k.a the chief, of NASA) made some interesting comments to the Agency France-Presse (AFP) when discussing the 50th anniversary of NASA and NASA’s current state:

“[Christopher Columbus] travelled for months and spent a few weeks in the Americas and returned home. He could hardly have said to have explored the New World. So we have just begun to touch other worlds.”

-Mike Griffin, referring to Apollo 11‘s first walk on the Moon

Mr. Griffin went on to talk about how the explorers of the 15th century set out not knowing exactly what they’d find, and what value it would have. Griffin stated, “We can’t prove today that we can exploit what we find to the benefit of humankind”, though personally I beg to differ (and so do others more significant than me).

Griffin also expresses support for international cooperation, a subject that was a key contrast between the Obama and McCain space plans (with Obama’s plan mentioning it often and McCain’s plan never mentioning it).

“The space station is much bigger and better and more impressive and more productive as a result of the partnership with Canada, Russia, Europe, and Japan, than it would have been if we had done it ourselves.”
-Mike Griffin

For some more interesting Mike Griffin interviews, check out this Popular Mechanics ’10 tough questions’ from 2007, and a Space.com grilling from about a month ago on the space shuttle program, changes to it, and the potential impact of that on Constellation. Seems like Mr. Griffin gets some tough gigs with these interviews, haha.

(Note: I think that 8.8mb portrait from NASA of Mr. Griffin is one of the largest images I have ever seen uploaded to the internet.)

NASA abandons accelerated Orion 2013 plan (News) August 12, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Altair, Ares I, Ares V, Constellation, Current News, NASA, Orion (craft), Space Shuttle , add a comment
Yesterday, it was announced that NASA was abandoning its idea for an ambitious, accelerated launch of its next-gen Orion spacecraft, pushing back the date a year. While the announced launch date is March of 2015, they were hoping to get the craft up and launched as soon as 2013; now they are looking an an internal date of 2014 (with the ‘announced’ launch date still sitting pretty on 2015).

The Orion craft seats 4-6 astronauts (with the current Space Shuttle typically carrying 7), and is the craft planned to carry NASA’s astronauts to the Moon (with Orion being launched by the Ares rockets, subsequent to a seperate launch of the lunar lander, Altair; both craft have been spotlighted here recently). Meanwhile, other nations have their own equivalents brewing

Picture of the Week: What's in a Name? May 24, 2008

Posted by Nick Azer in : Ares I, Ares V, Mythology, Orion (craft), Space Shuttle , add a comment

That is the vessel with which NASA’s Constellation astronauts will launching efforts towards the Moon, and eventually, Mars. The Ares rocket, with Ares I carrying the crew and Ares V carrying the cargo, is the first replacement for the Space Shuttle (which launched both cargo and crew at once). The Ares is the launch vehicle, with the spacecraft per se being the Orion.

Ares, the god, interestingly is (as Wikipedia puts it): “…more accurately the god of savage warfare, or bloodlust, or slaughter personified”. Lovely. I perhaps might have chosen a, ah…more diplomatic name for the vehicle launching our space efforts, though the choice technically comes from Ares’ Roman alter ego/incarnation: Mars, the warrior god, a form in which he was more honored in society (second only to Jupiter, in fact). Fun fact: the month of March is named after Mars.

Hopefully our efforts on the Moon and Mars have a lot more truth and introspection than bloodlust and slaughter personifed (“That’s no moon…”).