Republican lawmakers have accused the Obama administration of abetting China’s space program through its allowance of “dangerous” technology export deals, Agence France-Presse reported on Friday (see GSN, March 10).
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) at a Capitol Hill hearing last week charged that an illegal “overreach” by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy was causing a looming national security danger in the form of Chinese advancements in outer space.
“China has aggressively sought our technologies through legal and illegal methods for decades,” said Rohrabacher, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Representative Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said at the hearing he was “very troubled with this administration’s apparent eagerness to work with China on its space program and willingness to share other sensitive technologies…”
…OSTP head John Holdren told the House subcommittee he had been notified by the Justice Department that his office’s initiatives were covered by the White House’s executive prerogative to carry out foreign policy and thus superseded the congressional requirement on the permitted uses of federal funds.
“I certainly don’t dispute technology transfer to China that we did not wish and do not welcome,” Holdren said in a reference to suspected leaks by private companies conducting commerce with China.
But he backed the scientific collaboration pursued over multiple U.S. administrations, contending it aided in getting “China to change the aspects of its conduct that we oppose,” including human rights violations.
Don’t ya just miss the days of the cold war when things like this would end up with NASA getting more money to plan a joint space trip with the USSR? You can’t run from space. You can’t block it. Even if you don’t want to, you might as well plan the next high-level PR trip to shake hands in space and act like everything is cool.Share
Last Friday, Wayne Hale’s blog was about standards, or lack of them. It’s worth reading.
He starts out discussing some shuttle tanks that were tested at White Sands, then testing moved to KSC, and things were not the same. Standards problem-
For space flight hardware, the Shuttle program specified the standards used in the design, development, testing, and production. But for ground test equipment, the space center where the equipment was used was responsible for the standards. You might think that NASA would have a set of standards for things like welding a pressurized metal tank used in ground checkout of space flight hardware. But if you thought that you would be wrong. Much of the time NASA appears to be a loose confederation of 10 quasi independent fiefdoms, each pretty much in charge of their own business. People often ask me what would I do if I were king of NASA for a day. They expect me to say something like: build this rocket, launch that satellite. Rather I think how I would standardize the procurement processes, or the human resources procedures, or the engineering standards used across the agency. But then I always was a dreamer, tilting at impossible windmills. Launching rockets is easy; getting engineers to agree on standards is hard…
Hale is quite right. I spent most of my engineering years working commercial airplanes (engines actually) and when I migrated to NASA I noticed this too. I probably mentioned this so much at work that people got tired of hearing it. It’s good to see someone like Hale agreeing!
NASA does have a mess on it’s hands with regard to standards. The reasons for it are many, and it’s too much to get into in a short web update. I think the main reason is that each Program comes up with it’s own, and there is no need to fit the previous standards, or standards that another center is using. What you end up with is a confused mess of agency standards and many center standards that don’t agree. Plus when meeting this cloud of requirements gets too confusing, people get waivers-which makes standards a waste of time anyway.
Each time I ran across this, I would think of what would happen if a major airline allowed each major hub in it’s system to come up with it’s own standards. Maintaining planes would be way too complicated. Every airline knows this. They write a single requirements document for the whole company, applicable worldwide. If you need to write up an item and document how it was cleared, the same forms and same procedures apply, regardless if work is done in Orlando, Paris, or Tokyo.
On the other hand, you may just ask “so what?” It’s not like the Shuttle needed to land at 100 different airports. Most NASA vehicles take just one trip anyway.
The problem Hale is writing about in this case could be worked another way. When a large air carrier wants to put an engine or airplane in a third-party shop, they maintain different quality manuals. Before work starts, an audit is done to verify line-by-line that what the repair shop will do meets the requirements of the carrier. The rest is insight and oversight, something NASA needs to get good at for SLS and commercial crew. This is just as important as standardizing standards.
There have been some initiatives to address the problem Hale wrote about, but they were not high priority. When a new Program comes along, people forget about these things and focus on doing that one program, with it’s custom standards and everything else (SEMPs).Share
Both the Senate and House are chopping at the NASA budget, but the House cuts more, doesn’t fund JWST, and spends less for commercial crew.
The Senate voted Tuesday to give NASA $17.9 billion in fiscal 2012, significantly more than the agency would get from the House.
Both chambers are far apart on two key initiatives. One is the James Webb Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Telescope. The other is a commercial crew program in which NASA and private rocket companies are working together to develop a replacement for the space shuttle.
The Senate bill includes $500 million for the program, compared to $312 million in the House measure. The James Webb telescope, which would get $530 million from the Senate, would get nothing under the House bill…
More from Spacepolicyonline (yesterday)-
This afternoon the Senate passed the “minibus” appropriations bill (H.R. 2112) that combines three of the regular appropriations bills into one, including funding for NASA, NOAA and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST).
The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill includes NASA and NOAA. The Transportation-Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) includes AST. The third bill in the package is Agriculture.
The vote was 69-30.
The bill now goes to the House where its future is unclear. The most recent reports indicate that the House will, in fact, accede to the Senate’s approach to the appropriations bills for FY2012, dealing with them in groups instead of combining all 12 into a single “omnibus” package. Omnibus bills have become common in recent years and initially it appeared the House preferred that method.
The House and Senate appropriations committees were fairly far apart in their recommendations for NASA. The House committee approved $16.8 billion, and, among other things, recommended terminating the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) program. The Senate approved $17.9 billion and recommended increasing JWST funding by $156 million so it could be launched in 2018 instead of years later. The President’s request for NASA was $18.7 billion, of which $374 million was for JWST…
This afternoon the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 2112, a FY 2012 bill from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski that would fund the James Webb Space Telescope to launch in 2018. This is another step forward for the next-generation space telescope, which many have called the successor to Hubble… all that now remains is for the House to reconcile.
“We are creating the building blocks that we need for a smarter America. Our nation is in an amazing race – the race for discovery and new knowledge, the race to remain competitive,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. ”This bill includes full funding of the James Webb Telescope to achieve a 2018 launch. The Webb Telescope supports 1,200 jobs and will lead to the kind of innovation and discovery that have made America great. It will inspire America’s next generation of scientists and innovators that will have the new ideas that lead to new products and new jobs…”
This is still not a done deal. A Bill in the House that cuts NASA funding more than the Senate version (including less for commercial crew) doesn’t fund JWST.Share
Don’t believe anything you read in the Washington Times.
Rumors of the death of NASA’s planetary science program are greatly exaggerated, according to the head of the agency division responsible for that activity.
Speaking at an Oct. 27 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Planetary Science subcommittee, Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science division, took issue with an opinion piece claiming the agency was gutting its robotic exploration program following a pair of upcoming missions.
“It is not true the planetary program is being killed,” Green told subcommittee members participating via telephone and Internet. He was referring to an assertion by Robert Zubrin, an outspoken advocate of Mars exploration, in an opinion piece published Oct. 26 by the Washington Times…
“Give us back that Moon speck…”
If you have one of those Moon rock souvenirs that got out years ago, better keep it to yourself. The goons might come after it like they did 74 year old Joann Davis, who just wanted to sell her’s (so she says) to support her sick son.
From NBC Losangeles-
The elaborate mission to recover a moon rock led NASA agents to one of the most down-to-earth places: a Denny’s restaurant in Riverside County.
But at the end of the sting operation, agents were left holding a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and a 74-year-old suspect who was terrified by armed officials.
Five months after NASA investigators and local agents swooped into the restaurant and hailed their operation as a cautionary tale for anyone trying to sell national treasure, no charges have been filed, NASA isn’t talking and the case appears stalled.
The target, Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, asserts the lunar material was rightfully hers, having been given to her space-engineer husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s…
Wednesday’s hearing by the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee on NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programdidn’t yield any major breakthroughs or other significant news. Industry members in the hearing’s first panel expressed their confidence to develop systems to transport NASA astronauts and serve other markets in the next several years, provided adequate funding. NASA’s associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier also backed the program, while NASA inspector general Paul Martin covered some of the challenges the program faces. Two themes did emerge from the nearly three-hour hearing, though.
1. Congressional skepticism is about markets, not capabilities:During the hearing several members of congress, including committee chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) and ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), expressed their doubts that CCDev would unfold as NASA and industry claim…
…CCDev’s FY12 budget is looking increasingly likely to be no more than $500 million: As NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver warned last week, Gerstenmaier said that funding CCDev at $500 million (the current Senate mark) rather than the administration’s request of $850 million would result in a one-year delay in vehicles entering service, to 2017, with the result that NASA would have to pay $480 million to Russia for an additional year of flight services. However, when asked by committee members, Gerstenmaier said that one-year delay would be the only major impact provided the program was adequately funded in future years. He added that NASA was still about a year away from making a decision to buy additional Soyuz seats…
Nasawatch has links to statements from John Elbon, Boeing, Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Charles Precourt, George Sowers, United Launch Alliance, Paul Martin, Inspector General, and Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD, NASA.Share
Former Speaker of the House and current 2012 Republican presidential candidate said Thursday he would “absolutely” privatize human spaceflight if elected president. Speaking at a town hall meeting in Dallas, Gingrich was asked about the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket that NASA is developing as required by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. “I think it is disgraceful the way getting into space has been turned into a political pork-barrel. It’s an abuse of the taxpayer and an abuse of America’s future,” he said, according to a statement from the Space Frontier Foundation, which also provided a transcript of the exchange. “It is a tragedy that between bureaucrats and politicians we have reduced NASA to the point where we are relying on Russian rockets to get to the space station…”
OK, so Gingrich is against pork-barrels. He wants alternatives to government-led programs. I did a quick google to see if Gingrich is consistent with this view, and he’s a flip-flopper.
When it comes to the Iraq War, Gingrich has a long history of flipping, flopping, and then flipping again. As Alex Koppelman reported in Salon last year, “As a close advisor to the administration over the past six years, and an intimate of both Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.” A member of the influential Defense Policy Board, Gingrich helped draw up war plans at the Central Command for the Middle East in Tampa, Fla. And his Oct. 16, 2002 USA Today column about Iraq was titled, “Strike Sooner Than Later.”
Well there ya go. If Gingrich was really into private solutions and getting government out of the way, he would have told the oil companies to hire their own mercenary army to invade Iraq and take the oil!Share
For NASA to achieve any of its lofty goals for the future, the commercial space industry must succeed, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver said.
The space agency has bet big that private spaceships will be ready to carry cargo and astronauts to orbit soon. The future of the International Space Station, as well as the future of NASA’s robotic science missions and human deep space ambitions, depend on that outcome, Garver said yesterday (Oct. 20) here at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight.
“In order to make good on the entire plan, it is this part of the plan that must be successful,” Garver said…
Well, duh. If you make something an essential part of a plan, don’t be surprised when that part of the plan is considered essential!Share
Huntsville Space Professionals and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center are proud to bring the Huntsville community the HSP Town Hall Meeting, Oct. 23, 2011, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Several private space companies, NASA and civic leaders will be there to showcase the promise and progress of commercial space development…The meeting is open to the public and free to attend, however, seating is limited and we need to know how many are coming…
Here’s a bit more detail that HSP’s Andy Sutinen put on the group’s Facebook page-
Noted speakers at the event will be USSRC Director Dr. Barnhart, Mayor Tommy Battle, MSFC Director Robert Lightfoot, NASA HQ Dan Dumbacher, and Dynetics Vice President Steve Cook, representatives from Sierra Nevada-Dream Chaser, Zero, Bigelow Aerospace, Orbital, Space X, and Virgin Galactic. In addition, numerous local aerospace companies will also be in attendance. Please go the HSP site for more info.