Tuesday, December 9, 2008

OpenNASA As My Sounding Board

I join other contributing authors at OpenNASA to put my opinions online about our space agency and national space exploration program. There I find a community of people with actions and words to improve our nation's space agency. I post there things that are off-agenda for actionforspace.com yet near and dear to my heart about the whys, hows, and whats of NASA.

Join me in the dialog at OpenNASA.com to bolster ourselves and the online space community in a safe and supportive online envirnoment.

I continue to issue calls to action at www.actionforspace.com, and continue to look for other authors to post here when opportunities for activism strike. However, when I feel like waxing philosophical, find me at OpenNASA.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CNN Dumps Science Coverage, O'Brien

CNN is firing Miles O'Brien, along with the rest of the producers for their Science and Environment stories. Miles has been an award winning champion of Space in many formats, doing much to promote awareness of current events in Space.

CNN is doing this because you, the scientifically oriented person who is reading this very post right now, have not made your impact and readership known to them.

When the cost/profits analysis came in, they figured that you weren't worth Miles' salary. Correct them by sending them your feedback.

Tell them what a mistake it is to fire Miles and the other staff.

Taking a step back, think of the bigger reason that they have canned Miles. There are less people like you around, period. Engineering enrollment in universities are down, public interest in Space and Technology wanes, and government funding of the sciences is flat or dwindling, overall. We can help there too. If you have a technical job, tell your friends, family, and neighbors about why you love what you do and why it is important. If you don't have a technical job, get one (I'm only half-serious,) or take an opportunity to share your feelings with them.

America is run by the people. Media companies are run by the advertisements. Show the media that you want Science and Space coverage, so that their been counters put the beans back in Miles' paycheck.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The SEDS Organization is stretching it's democratic wings and having an election as well! Read their post detailing the positions of leadership open, what it takes to get involved, and what their organization is all about.

From Wikipedia:

Students for the Exploration and Development of Space was founded in 1980 at MIT, Princeton University, and Yale University, and consists of an international group of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from a diverse range of educational backgrounds who are working to promote space. SEDS is a chapter-based organization with chapters in Canada, India, Israel, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States. The permanent National Headquarters for SEDS-USA resides at MIT. Each chapter is fairly independent and coordinates activities and projects in its own area.

Sound like something that you are interested? Get involved!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Barack Pleadges 2 Billion for NASA

The Washington Post reports that Barack Obama has pledged serious cash to support NASA in closing the gap.

In a recent visit in Florida, Barack stated:

"As president, I'll make our space program a priority again by devoting the attention and resources needed to not only inspire the world with feats of exploration but also improve life here on Earth," Obama said."
This is in contradiction to earlier statements that he made on his website about delaying the constellation plan 5 years. The edited document is this one. The final section, regarding funding of his education initiative, conspicuously omits verbiage regarding NASA, whereas before it did.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

My Conversation with Pete Olson

Pete Olson came down our street a few minutes ago. He is canvasing to get elected in Nick Lampson's district. I took the opportunity to stand out in the sun with him and talk about space in the Congress.

I told him how important the space program is to me, and how the Congress and the President really set the pace for the America's space program.

He agreed, and said that it was the president mostly who set the pace. He said that McCain want looking to promising on space, but that he looked better than Obama. I told him that I felt that space was primarily important for the inspirational value that it provides to Americans, and that's why I had chosen to work in the space industry myself. I told him that if we put a man on Mars and he didn't do any science there, it would still be worth it.

He shared some experiences with me about what set him on his path to become a Navy aviator, and that it was in part to open up the opportunity to be an astronaut. I'm not sure if he shares this with to many potential constituents.

I asked him that in the case that he was elected, he should promote and fund space exploration initiatives that would promote inspiration for Americans, and not just science.

As we were parting, he asked me if I thought that we could or should keep the shuttle flying past 2010. I was glad that he asked, and thought that he really wanted to know what I thought. I told him that I didn't think that it was a good idea and that I thought it was more important to move the CEV closer than to push the shuttle out. I shared with him an experience I'm having on the Space Station program where we are having to buy more parts than we originally intended and we are having to pay through the nose to get the contractor spun up again to build these parts.

I said that just like Cortez burned his ships when he landed in America, we should burn our ships that would keep us in LEO so that we could reach for the Moon and Mars.

He said that with enough funding the shuttle could be kept going, and I shared my dissatisfaction with the level of funding the George Bush has asked Congress to give to NASA. Bush's funding is less that what he laid out for NASA when he pitched the VSE to the nation.

My personal exposure to Pete Olson was positive, although brief.

Now that Congressional campaign season is up, take this opportunity to find out who is running in your area and talk to them about how and why you think that they should fund space. Talk to them while they are in a listening mode and trying to get your vote.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Post 2015 Russian ISS Modules

Rob Coppinger, at the Flight Global blog, raises our attention to significant words from the head of the Russian space agency:

Chief Anatoly Perminov stated when at a heads of agency meeting on July 17 that "if a decision is made to continue working with the station after 2015 then the Russian segment will be completed with further modules - energy modules, research modules etc."

Currently the station is slated to finish its lifespan in 2015. Just as the shuttle contracts are terminally closing down now, the station contracts are structured with contractors to end in 2015.

Do you think the station should be preserved beyond 2015? Or do you think it should be canned to free up funding for the Moon and Mars program. Comment here and to your elected officials.

Your legislators probably don't even know that the Station is scheduled to be decomissioned.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

To Predict The Future

I often reflect on the oft quoted and powerful saying that:

"the best way to predict the future is to create it."
This means that one can declare a future and through determination it is possible for them to create that future.

John F Kennedy predicted the future. Bill Gates predicted the future. Neither of their futures was created single-handedly by either of them, but they they rallied others around them in order to realize their dreams. They shared their passion with others, and made it their passion as well.

Millions of us predict the future each day, in our own lives and at work. Often the futures that we predict and create are less grand than that of Kennedy and Gates, but we create our futures nevertheless.

With this in mind, I predict the future for www.actionforspace.com:

This site will become a major clearinghouse of action items for the online space supporter. It will provide current events in space policy, as well as encouragement and resources for online space supporters to take concrete action that encourages more public, corporate, and governmental support and funding for spaceflight in America.

Actionforspace.com will be written by a team of 10 independent authors who regularly update the content so that the online space supporter can be alerted to current congressional votes, outreach opportunities, elections, and other events relevant to the future of space exploration. Among the 10 will be someone in touch with the space community at the following locations:

Houston-John Benac
Florida-Tim Bailey
Southern California
New Mexico
Bay Area
Washington, DC

We proved to ourselves, the media, and the politicians with the Politico debates that when oriented and mandated, the online space community has muscle and drive. Actionforspace.com will set the beat for flexing that muscle with regularity and cohesion.

Will you be one of the 10 authors? Let me know. Otherwise, I'll find you. In the mean time. I'll be posting again at least every two weeks. We are like embers in a fire. bring us together and we grow hotter and brighter. Draw us apart and we can die out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

House Members Urge House Leaders to Grant $2B to NASA

NASAWatch reports that a few dozen house members have sent a letter to the house leadership requesting 2 Billion additional funding for NASA to offset costs associated with bringing the Orion online, cleaning up after Katrina, and bringing the shuttle back to flight after the loss of Columbia. Read the text of the legislation and hit up these leaders with your agreement of the letter.

From the letter:

"Making much-needed investments in space and aeronautics research and development will also have a long-term and beneficial economic impact, contributing new jobs, industrial development and stimulus to struggling communities."

The letter was sent to the following leaders:

Nancy Pelosi (California)
Steny Hoyer (Maryland)
David Obey (Wisconsin)
John Boehner (Ohio)
Roy Blunt (Missouri)
Jerry Lewis (California)

Monday, April 28, 2008

SEDS Job/Internship Opportunity

A friend of mine, Jim Volp, made me aware of the following opportunities for the most die hard space activists out there. Read his note:

Original text is btw online at:


The organization Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) is seeking interns to work on a variety of interesting topics. You will be based close to Madrid, Spain. If you are interested to help out from your home via the Internet, that is possible and appreciated too! Contact: jim.volp@seds.org.

Job Description
Concepts such as commercial space liners, space hotels, space launch systems and lunar missions were thought to be empty promises....

But now in the post-X PRIZE world we are looking at:
- The first commercial space liner starting service in 2010
- The first successful test of commercial space hotel modules
- A space vehicle developed in a fraction of time or cost as before
- And more than 6 teams competing to land a private rover on the Moon.

We truly live in the interesting times of space exploration! And this is why SEDS and it's members are full of energy!

SEDS wants to interconnect students, all over the globe, in order to share and advocate their passion for space.

SEDS is looking for a small number of motivated people that want to work on the challenge to expand the existing network of SEDS chapters and move towards an active global student network as with the collective volunteer time of a (large) group of students global problems/projects can be worked on.

During the internship you will be working on a variety of disciplines: research, strategic business/organization development, marketing & PR.

Apart from the SEDS development work you have the choice to work on / support:
- International Astronautical Federation's Administrative Committee on Workforce Development / Young Professionals Programme
- IAF Administrative Committee on Space and Society
- World Space Week Educational Relations
- Space in Africa
- Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Programme on Space Applications

International Astronautical Federation's Administrative Committee on Workforce Development / Young Professionals Program
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The committee's mandate is well described at: http://www.iafastro.org/index.php?id=842

IAF Administrative Committee on Space and Society
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The committee has as aim to increase the visibility and direct benefit of space activities to society as a whole, through the active involvement of the IAF member societies and increase the visibility and number of IAF member societies through its involvement in our activities. Specific emphasis should be placed on those parts of society and the world where space and its benefits are less well-known.

World Space Week Global Education Program
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
"To celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition" -- as declared by the United Nations General Assembly

The aim is to establish contact with more schools throughout the world each year and motivate them to celebrate space during World Space Week.

Africa and Space
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Information about space activities in Africa is hard to find. The aim is to create a useful and comprehensive overview.

Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations Program on Space Applications
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SGAC and SEDS are closely related organisations so the work to develop SEDS is also of relevance to SGAC. SGAC has observer status to the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Salary: The internship is not paid for. Accommodation is provided.
Deadline: Continuous opportunity, so no deadline
Duration: Flexible, minimal 1 month

The successful candidate shall
- be between 18 and 35 years old;
- possess good communications skills in English;
- have awsome understanding of (volunteer) organizations;
- have no VISA issues to enter Spain;

Other skills desirable
1. Ability to work under your own initiative
2. Interest in marketing & PR, networking
3. Working as part of an international team

If you are interested, you should send a brief email stating your interest and include a CV or other proof of skills.

Basic Information on SEDS
SEDS is an independent, student-based organization which promotes the exploration and development of space. SEDS pursues this mission by educating people about the benefits of space, by supporting a network of interested students, by providing an opportunity for members to develop their leadership skills, and inspiring people through our involvement in space-related projects. SEDS believes in a space-faring civilization and that focusing the enthusiasm of young people is the key to our future in space.



Feeney's Florida House Seat Contest

Space Politics updates us on the race for Florida's 24th District seat in the house of Representatives. Up for bat is Democrat Suzanne Kosmas and Republican incumbent Tom Feeney.

Democrats point to Feeney's links to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"Feeney was among seven people who joined Abramoff on the $160,000 junket. Feeney reimbursed the government $5,643 for the trip, but the Justice Department last year asked Feeney for more information on his travel. Feeney calls the trip an embarrassing mistake." writes Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press.

Kosmas, a realtor, does not mention her stances on the issues at her website, and is notably silent about space exploration, notwithstanding an image of the shuttle at the main page.

Tom Feeney, on the other hand, states "My top priorities are to promote America's Vision for Space Exploration and to sustain the vitality of all NASA centers including the Kennedy Space Center." He visits China for the Global Space Development Summit this month.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

CNN Headlines Candidates Weak Space Stance

CNN headlines the story: "Raw Politics: Candidates and the space race" about how Obama, Clinton, and McCain all have a soft stance on manned exploration. Tom Foreman, the writer for the story, emphasizes China's growing space prowess and writes "if space does not become a higher priority, the Chinese program will be on par with America's by the end of the next president's second term. Then, it will be a real race to Mars even if we want to join in."

Its good to see the issue getting some attention in the election, even if it isn't from the candidates. NASAWatch links to a video on the story.
Could CNN be trying to put it on the agenda after neglecting it in a series of debates earlier?
Tell the candidates about the story. Tell them it makes them look bad. Invite them to differentiate themselves.

NASA Spinoff Magazine

I got my free copy of Spinoff Magazine in the mail today in a big orange envelope with the NASA logo on it. I told my wife it was my astronaut recruitment letter. She didn't believe me, but was interested as I pulled out the shiny thick glossy book/magazine that detailed the highlights of the spinoff related activities, products, and services that NASA has engaged in for 2007. About two weeks ago I requested it from NASA's Website.

Some of the more interesting items in my view include:
This list is my highlights list of NASA's highlights list for 2007. It shouldn't be too long before you see some of this in your sky mall catalog.

In any case, Tang, satellites, Velcro, and cordless tools don't impress people anymore. Get your copy of Spinoff today and really have something to say the next time someone says "Why would we spend all that money in space when we have problems here on earth?" You tell them why.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clinton Introduces Bill to Fund Aricebo Telescope

In a move some call driven to gain votes in the Puerto Rican democratic primaries, Hillary Clinton introduced a bill to provide funding to the Arecibo Observatory, similar to a stalled bill released in the house last year.

The Arecibo budget is 12.5 million a year. The NSF, the other major federal science agency, is squeezed for cash as well as NASA. They have announced that they are planning on cutting funding for the telescope in 2010.

Read Hillary's Press release and the text of the bill.

Then Email, Fax, Call, and Visit your Representative and Senator and tell them to vote in support of Senate Resolution 2862 or House Resolution 3737.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Popular Mechanics Analyzes the Candidates

Popular Mechanics systematically exposes that all 3 presidential candidates are soft on space. McCain will freeze the budget, Hillary focuses on a ensuring expensive government capability to do what COTS is trying to do, and Obama is stately against expensive and dangerous human spaceflight.

It makes me sick to my stomach to see these politicians cover their bases with vague statements and ignoring the science debate. Give them your 2 cents. Tell them it makes you sick as well.

Promote Science Debate 2008 and
Email, Fax, and call Obama at (866) 675-2008,
Email, Fax, and call Clinton at (703) 469-2008, and
Email, Fax, and call McCain at (703) 418-2800.

Carnival Of Space 51

Ian O’Neill, a contributing writer to Universe Today, hosts the most recent Carnival of Space at his blog: "Astroengine." Check it out!

Congressional Hearing on ISS Status and Issues

The following is a rough transcript for the question segment of the House Committee hearing on Science and Technology for the ISS: Status and Issues:

Udall Q: How much will the taxpayers have paid for the station total?
Gerstenmaier: Be more specific. There are many costs that are indirectly related. Lets get back to that when you have the specifics

Udall: The station lives off consumables brought up by the shuttle. How important are these?
Gerstenmaier: we have 2 contingency flights that are ready to bring up spares in the manifest. This gives us breathing room if the commercial launch supply can’t deliver as soon as we would like. "Wwe just activated a lot of our systems on the outside of the space station" and they consume supplies.

Udall: You speak to the risk that we would incur if we didn’t fly those two contingency shuttle flights.
Gerstenmaier: We have seen some components perform much better than we had expected, and others that have not performed as well. The solar array rotator units and the CMG (control momnet gyros) have not performed as well, and that’s why we have the contingency flights.

Udall: Are those part of the manifest?
Gerstenmaier: They are part of the manifest, but they haven’t been approved or funded yet

Udall: Any backup plan if those flights cant be flown?
Gerstenmaier: If they don't fly, we will asses the risk of not having those spares.

Chaplin: If the spares to get pushed off until the COTS vehicles become available, the COTS vehicles might not be able to bring up the large spares. Or they might not be able to fit the spares planned for the contingency with the other parts that they need to bring.

Hall: You mentioned the risks if they cant fly. What if we do fly? With NASA's reliance on Soyuz, could you provide us with details about the reentry problem? What actions are being taken by the Russians to ensure safety?

Gerstenmaier: Both flights had a ballistic reentry. It spun like a bullet rather than flying with a controlled trajectory. Both vehicles had a failure of the service module to separate from the service module. The lower section did not properly release. The Russians saw that for the first vehicle and showed us conclusively that that is what happened because there was telemetry coming across a cable that should have been severed. It has not yet been proven conclusively what happened with this most recent vehicle. The fact that this problem has happened with two vehicles means that there is probably a design problem or a manufacturing change and we are going to look at that.

Hall: You may have to answer this in writing. In order for NASA to continue buying Soyuz, congress has to approve an exception to the Iran non-proliferation act. What would be the consequences if Congress did not pass that exception this year but it didn’t happen until next year.

Gerstenmaier: We really need that now. It takes 3 years to get the vehicle built. We need to get that approval this summer. We need a US presence to operate the US segment and we need the Soyuz to get us there. The only way to get them there initially is with the Soyuz. It is mandatory that congress approve the exception the Iran non-proliferation act.

Hall: Or we might have to abandon the ISS if congress doesn’t approve it and we don’t want that. It has a bad effect on the international partners.

Lampson: I may sound like a broken record about the Alpha Magnetic Spectometer. There is a lot of hope that that can be sent up. I hope that the contingency flights do get funded. Is there a possibility that the AMS can go up the shuttle before the shuttle program ends. What other hardware has been developed that isn’t scheduled for flight? is NASA going to launch it?

Gerstenmaier: In terms of the AMS we don’t see a spot in the current shuttle management. If I took those spares off of the spares for AMS, then I wouldn’t have the spares that would be needed. The contingency flights could not be used for the AMS because the space is needed to run the AMS itself.

Other hardware was cancelled before it was ready to be flown, including the CAM. However, the Cuppola will still go up. Combustion research will still go up. Our goal is to outfit station with the best racks that we can and we are still on track.

Gerstenmaier: I'll look and see if there is any other hardware that is ready to fly but isn’t on the manifest and get back to you.

Lampson: Is it worth congresses money to complete this other hardware (CAM) to fly it and launch?

Gerstenmaier: I'm an engineer who builds the stuff, I don’t have the best answer for that.

Lampson: If we hadn’t shut down the X-33 we might not have needed to rely on the Soyuz. We canceled it at the end of the X-33 and it cost more to shut down the project than it would have taken to complete it.

It is critical for our reputation to the world that if we want to work with with other countries on science related projects we need to do what we say that we are going to do. "I hope and pray that we don’t loose our position to other nations in this space race"

Rorabacher: Can you tell us about the willingness of the Russians and their likylyhood to expand our cooperation to make up for the loss of the shuttle?

Gerstenmaier: We have really come to work together through this project. When the Columbia was lost the Russians rose to that challenge and provided the Soyuz. If it weren’t for the Russians and their support, we would not have a space station. They need us as much as we need them. We give them power. They recognize that they can not run the station without us, but they will want compensation to provide the flights.

Rohrabacher: are they capable for delivering spares to keep the us segment operating?

Gerstenmaier: they can not provide our spares. We will have commercial re-supply give our supplies. The European ATV can also bring up US supplies. The Japanese have a test propulsion article and it might be able to provide spares for us.

Rohrabacher: But what do we have that is online or that hasn’t only flown once?

Gerstenmaier: The thing thats online is the European ATV.

Rohrabacher: so the ATV will provide us the capability that can provide the spares ability that we need.

Gerstenmaier: we will need a combination of vehicles.

Rohrabacher: We have been short sighted. It was hard to project that we could have lost the shuttles. Congress and this committee have been unwilling to prioritize. Its not that there has not been enough money to spend, but we haven’t been able to say "no" to things that have taken money away from completing the international space station. We heard about today that microscopic imaging and storage would help us utilize this great asses in a way that would let us achieve more. Is there any thought as to what it would cost to provide that to the station?

Gerstenmaier we have a -80 degrees freezer that can provide cold storage and some small centrifuges. We need to talk with the scientific community and make sure that we have what is available to the scientific community.

Rohrabacher: There is great value to be achieved with what we have constructed. If we can achieve billions of dollars of return for only a couple of million dollars of equipment. Maybe the private sector would be willing to pay the millions to get the billions of return. We should be thinking creatively and out of the box about how we can work with the Russians about how to think that way. Udall and I will be traveling to Russia to talk about this. Any advice that NASA has about this for how we can talk to the Russians would be appreciated.

Udall: we are running out of time for this hearing. NASA’s agreement is that the station operate until 2016. What would it take to get that extended?

Gerstenmaier: COTS or Orion could keep us going. We need some small studies that are done with the Russians for the life of the station and we have contracts and agreements with the Russians to continue the sustaining engineering work

Udall: But the Russians won’t provide escape ability once the Orion is operational or when a crewed COTS return comes online. When do you see the Orion becoming totally operational

Gerstenmaier: 2016 is when it will be totally online. I know that’s at the end of the station life. Regarding COTS, it would be best to ask the commercial sector when they think that they will be ready.

Udall: what do the COTS companies need to do to be ready?
Gerstenmaier: the recent Soyuz incidents show what a hard thing it is to dock for 6 months and come down and land. COTS will have many engineering milestones to achieve.

Udall: How important is it that NASA can purchase any tools that they need from Russia? Will the ISS be endangered if we don’t allow NASA to buy these things from Russia?

Gerstenmaier: the pump in the quest airlock is Russian provided and it must be provided by Russia. There are many other components that are small and must be provided for the life of the station

Udall: lots of suppliers work with Russians
Gerstenmaier: some of the cots bidders use Russian components and engines so they will need congressional authorization if the COTS participant that uses Russian components is selected

Udall: You talk about the Soyuz landing 400K away from their landing zone. If that happened in Colorado, they would land in mountain peaks. In Russians area they don’t have that. Could you elaborate?

Gerstenmaier "There’s is a lot of land that is open... Its not nearly as pretty as Colorado. They landed near some farmers who had started a brush fire before they had landed.

Udall: the astronauts opened the hatch say the fire, and closed the hatch. The parachute caught fire and was consumed in the brush fire. The Kazak farmers got there by the the that they opened that hatch.

Hall: I wanted to thank this group. I want to recognize that Gerstenmaier is the best program manager that NASA has ever had. Thank you.

Udall: This is very important testimony. The record will remain open for further questions from the panel. This hearing is now adjourned.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Smithsonian Space Day

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is hosting a "Space Day" event on May 3rd. Residents around Virgina, head over to enjoy the many special events happening including:

Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman
Acappella group "The Chromatics"
NASA and National Air and Space Museum scientists
live contact via amateur radio with the International Space Station

Booths include:

the Northern Virginia Association of Rocketry
Team America Rocketry
AMSAT-Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation
Washington Metro Area Users Group.

This is a great opportunity to bring you family and friends to get them more excited about our space program. Doors are open from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Map

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sierra County Approves Spaceport Tax

3,000 of Sierra County's 14,000 residents turned out today to vote for a sales tax increase of .25% to help pay for Spaceport America. The supporters of the spaceport won by a 2:1 margin.

While this tax will only generate a few million dollars, it enables the government to spend well over a hundred million dollars in the newly created "tax district" on developing Spaceport America.

Celebrate this positive event as the first major commercial spaceport in America (with baker Virgin Galactic) picks up steam (and payloads).

SpaceX Wins NASA Launch Contract

SpaceX of California has won a contract that could be valued up to $1 Billion to support Science, Space Operations and Exploration Systems mission launches; so it pretty much covers anything. It's open season on some of the more expensive launchers now that SpaceX can compete on launching spacecraft "weighing 551 pounds or heavier into a circular orbit of 124 miles at an orbital inclination of 28.5 degrees."

The cost of access to space is the most critical enabler of a flourishing space industry. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, began a rocket company because he initially wanted to send an experiment to Mars but realized the cost of launching there would be extremely expensive. He started SpaceX to solve that problem.

Monday, April 21, 2008

SPACEHAB and Florida Government Announce Biotech Partnership

SPACEHAB has announced a partnership with the government of Florida to ramp up efforts to perform biomedical research on the space station and using a space biomedical designated lab on the ground to perform new research. "Florida has provided SPACEHAB with both financial backing and valuable research facilities," said Thomas Pickens, SPACEHAB's CEO.

Florida, Virginia, New Mexico, California, and Texas are all states making efforts to gain traction by attracting and fostering space industry companies to their borders. Talk to your state leaders about the positive impact that space companies have on a state's economy and tell them why they should bring space companies to your state.

House Subcommittee Evaluates ISS Status and Issues

Space Politics reminds us that the House Committee on Science and Technology is holding a hearing on the Status and Issues of the International Space Station. Watch it NASA TV. Members of industry, academia, and government will testify to congress regarding current issues of the Space Station.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Mexico Space Voters, Start Your Engines

Spaceports blog reminds us that Tuesday is polling day for New Mexican Voters. Up for vote is a .25% increase in sales tax to pay for the New Mexico's Spaceport America, whose prime customer Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic.

Call your uncle, grandmother, or friend in Sierra County, New Mexico and remind them to get out and vote in favor of the tax. Or just pull up the directory and start cold calling. (I'm joking... but if you did do that, it would be kind of cool.) Tell them that the return on that investment will by far justify the expense.

Read Jack Kennedy's coverage on the story here, here, and here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Congressman in China to Discuss Manned Space Flight

U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney from Florida is heading to China to talk with officials about their manned spaceflight initiatives. China has launched people to space twice already and has ambitions of space stations and moon missions. Email, Fax, Call, and Visit your Congressmen to tell them about Tom Feeney's trip, China's threat to American Manned Spaceflight preeminence, and why they need to bolster American space exploration with their votes and their voices.

He is going to participate in the "Global Space Development Summit." If your in Beijing next week, head on over.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NASA Turns to Private Cargo

Aviation week reports that Michael Griffin, administrator of NASA, has expressly excluded cargo transport in a request to congress requesting that they authorize purchasing crew transport on Soyuz capsules. He plans on stocking up the space station with supplies (water, spare parts, etc) during the shuttle flights, and consuming those during any gap between the shuttle's retirement and when a COTS supplier comes online.

His letter names both the Soyuz and the unmanned progress as excluded from future purchased cargo transport. Griffin states that the white house is on board with this strategy. This development is interesting to consider in light of the earlier confusion about Griffins COTS vision, when he manifested his lack of confidence is a crewed COTS option.

This news comes on the heels of a novel new contract that NASA has signed with Hamilton Sundstrand this week for the purchase of water on the space station. Hamilton Sundstrand will produce a machine that combines Carbon Dioxide form the astronauts breathe with Hydrogen generated by the electrolysis of water when making the station's oxygen. The machine will produce water, which will be cycled back into the water recovery system, and methane that will be vented overboard. The agreement is that NASA will only pay for water produced on the station by this machine, but not for its development. If the machine does not work, NASA does not pay. Such an approach encourages Hamilton Sundstrand to produce at the lowest cost and highest quality while protecting NASA from paying for a defective product.

These are good signs that our nation's space agency is shifting toward a more friendly way of working with industry to create sustainable partnerships that are a high value to tax payer dollar.

The Latest Carnival of Space

The Carnival of Space is hosted this week by the KySat Online blog, a "joint enterprise involving public organizations, colleges, universities and the private sector in a student-led initiative to design, build, launch and conduct on-orbit operations of small satellites."

Head on over and get connected with the space blogosphere. You will find relevant blogs that you didnt know existed.

McCain Plans to Freeze NASA Budget

John McCain has announced a plan to freeze NASA's budget, along with all other discretionary spending, at 2009 levels for 2010. According to the Vision for Space Exploration laid out by Bush and approved by Congress, including a vocally supportive McCain, NASA's budget had been slated to be 18.5 Billion in 2010. President Bush himself has asked for 17.6 Billion in 2009 (which is .5 billion less than less than the VSE called for at 2009 levels). If this happens, it will have a cumulative 1.5 billion dollar hit to what NASA has planned for over only 2 years.

To put this in perspective, NASA only allocates 3.2 billion to constellation in 2010, with the rest of their budget spread over Earth science, planetary science, the Space Station and Shuttle programs, astrophysics, aeronautics, and other programs. Where will they get the money from to pick up the shortfall? Robotic Exploration? Will they delay the manned program? Will they neglect to put up necessary replacement weather satellites? Will they cut short missions for spacecraft already performing in space (Mars Rovers, Cassini, or Mars Odessey?)

This is not a question of priorities at NASA. This is a question of negligence in Washington. Over 1 Billion is spent in Iraq each week and we are starving the very agency that has given us the ability to fight wars, perform modern operations, communicate globally, etc.

Even if you don't think that NASA gets high marks for efficiency, commissioning them to build new ships to go to the Moon and Mars and then systematically giving them less than what was proposed is a recipe for problems regardless of NASA's execution of the plan.

John McCain, don't freeze NASA's budget. Increase it to at least what you authorized it to be in 2005. Be true to your stated position and voting record. Furthermore, participate in the Science debate in Oregon and demonstrate a sincere desire to act in the long term interest of this nation.

Readers, Email, Fax, and call McCain at (703) 418-2800 and tell him to prioritize space exploration.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nick Lampson and Pete Olson Battle for Texas House Seat

Nick Lampson, Texas democrat for Congress is running hard for his seat in congress and is making promises about promoting human spaceflight in the meantime. The seat is Texas’ 22nd District, vacated by space supporter Tom DeLay, and includes the Johnson Space Center.

The Orlando Sentinel reports "he has become NASA's biggest booster among House Democrats and might be able to use his campaign as leverage to persuade party leaders to support manned spaceflight... Eventually, Lampson wants to boost NASA funding to $30 billion."

Action for Space posted earlier that Lampson led a congressional delegation to a shuttle launch on March 11th.

Lampson is running against Pete Olson, a former political aid and navy pilot. Olson pledges to support the JSC and criticizes Olson for voting for HR 20, which decreased NASA funding.

Contact Lampson and Olson and tell them that they need to demonstrate a sincere earnestness to promote the space program.

Pete Olson for Congress
13515 Southwest Freeway Suite #207
Sugar Land, TX 77478
Campaign Phone: 281.342.PETE (7383)
Fax # 281.34237384
Email Pete: Pete@Olsonforcongress.com

Nick Lampson
in Washington DC:
436 Cannon HOB
Washington DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.5951
Fax: 202.225.5241

in Houston:
1020 Bay Area Blvd, Ste. 224
Houston TX 77058
Phone: 281.461.6300
Fax: 281.461.6303
Email Nick

Monday, April 14, 2008

The First Space Political Action Comittee

Jeff Brooks has created The Committee for the Advocacy of Space Exploration, a "Political Action Committee" recently created to step outside the lines of a the traditional 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Basically, a PAC can endorse candidates and sink it's teeth into elections and issues with more freedom than a non-profit. Investigate this organization. Size Jeff Brooks up. Read his stance on the issues. Donate. I have asked that they provide a Paypall web widget to make it easier to donate and available to put a donate button on your one blogs, websites, facebook profiles, etc.

I appreciate the stance of promoting multiple enabling space initiatives and technologies, rather than focusing on one over another.

Of himself, Jeff says:

"In my time, I have worked on political campaigns as a policy analyst and staffer, learning the ropes in the cutthroat world of Texas politics (if you think politics in Washington is rough, try spending some time in Austin). I have walked the halls of the Texas Legislature and the United States Congress as a professional lobbyist. The issues on which I have worked run the gamut from children’s health insurance and identify theft protection to reducing interest rates on student loans and reforming the electoral process."

Contact the Space PAC at:
PO Box 200243
Austin, TX 78720-0243

and call them at 904-382-8348

Read the blog. Send Jeff an email. Put your money where your mouth is.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yuri's Night Kicks Off

From the twitter feeds: Yuri's Night kicks off during the day as parties across the globe swing into action.

Yuri Malenchenko, Expedition 16 Flight Engineer on the ISS, Radioed down to wish all a happy Yuri's night.

In Houston, astronaut
Dave Leetsma speaks to a "standing room only" croud. Live music also plays.

In Boulder, CO, ice cream and space pens are flooding out to the public

In San Fransisco, a mini air show accompanies the festivities.

Get to the one closest to you and celebrate!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Florida Passes Bills Promoting Space Industry

Space Politics reports on four bills passed through the Florida Legislature:

"SB 2526 supports the development of an initiative to diversify the state’s space industry. SB 2458 would create a “Space and Aerospace Development Infrastructure Enhancement Fund”. SB 2666 would include “space flight contractors” into an existing tax refund program for defense contractors. The fourth bill, SB 2426, is described in the Florida Today article above as providing $15 million to 'refurbish a launch complex at Kennedy Space Center'."
Has your state passed bills like these? Find out and communicate to your state legislators about your support for the space industry.

Universe Today Picks our Brains

For a smorgasbord of wisdom from space advocacy thought leaders on the net, read Frasier Cain's "The Value of Space Exploration" post at his "Universe Today" blog.

Frasier asked prominent space bloggers for a short summary statement of why exploring space is worth spending money on. Read their responses, make a response of your own, and get familiar with the other sites that speak out for and about space exploration.

Government Agencies Examine Satellite Component Trade Restrictions

The Defense Technology Security Administration and the National Security Space Office are examining the US munitions list to determine if some satellite components can be removed. Their reason for doing so now is because these items are now readily available on worldwide markets. When the US made it difficult for American satellite manufacturers to sell to customers oversees, foreign nations developed the technology themselves, often at a lower cost.

In hindsight, and in many people's foresight, this has not been a wise course of action. Not only are American manufacturers disadvantaged, but now other nations are developing technologies that they previously had to buy from the united states.

It is admirable that these agencies are reexamining the list, but it does not go far enough. Contact your congressman and tell them that the ITAR regulations need to be overhauled. Our risk averse strategy is bad for our space industry and doesn't protect us.

Learn more about ITAR.

Email, fax, call, and visit your Congressmen to share your thoughts on ITAR

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jim Albaugh's Full Remarks

The full text of Jim Albaugh's remarks to the National Space Symposium are available at Boeing's web site. Jim is President of Boeing's* Integrated Defense Services, and is a heavy hitter as far as influence. Some of his comments include:

"We can be a leader. And we should...But to do so will require fundamental changes in the way we position ourselves as an industry, and as partners with government."

"where are the innovators of our time? I fear they are not working in our industry. I fear they are working in businesses that reward them for their innovations and ideas... not just for their years of service."

"Ours is an industry where the big companies have become more and more risk-averse... scrutinized by shareholders and market watchers who can be harsh judges... and where long-term visions succumb to short-term profits."

"In my view, propulsion is the great enabler"

"We are simply not producing enough of the scientists and engineers of the future. Where are the Robert Goddard's of tomorrow? My guess is they may be studying in Bangalore or Shanghai."

"Going back to space exploration, we must stay the course with our current Space Policy. That support needs to be continued through long-term commitment by elected officials, industry and the public...We have a good architecture to replace Shuttle and return to the moon. We must all remain solidly behind it. And we must be committed to it long-term. Changing it incrementally or as a whole is the worst thing we could do."

As the leader of the largest space 1.0 company, Jim's words offer unique insight. Get familiar with it so that you can have more intelligent conversations with your peers and leaders about space.

*The Author of this post works for Boeing

New NASA Science Mission Directorate Website

Get in touch with the Science that NASA does at the new Science Mission Directorate website. The website links to some less visible features within the NASA pages, and perusing it for a while will educate you more about the real concrete discoveries that NASA makes every day.

Pick your favorite discovery and contact you senator to tell him why it is good that NASA has discovered it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

2007 Worldwide Space Revenue: $251 billion

An annual assessment of global space industry has tallied up the total size of the space industry in 2007 to be $251 Billion, an 11% increase from 2006. This increase is amidst tight budgets and declining economies world wide. It is clear that the space industry is growing larger, even while the US space program barely keeps up with inflation.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Boeing Executive Warns More Space Funding is Needed

Jim Albaugh, Head of Boeing's* defense business, warned that the United States will loose it's edge in Space to India and China unless the government gives more funding and leadership to the space program. Boeing is located in almost every state, so find out where they are located near you and visit your congressional representative to personally deliver Jim Albaugh's message along with your personal feelings and why space exploration funding matters to you and your state.

Boeing has developed and built that Space station, the Space Shuttle, and is developing the upper stage of the Ares 1 rocket. It has also won a study contract for the lunar lander and will compete for the full contract for the lunar lander as well as Ares V components. It is currently considering perusing further COTS work for the 2010 time frame.

*The Author of this post works for Boeing


With the 2009 budget under consideration, we, the public, need to review what competes for space exploration tax dollars. I now include a breakdown of the federal budget and the running tally of the cost of the Iraq war as a constant reminder of how little funding science and space has compared to other expenses, such as the military and social security. As a matter of fact, the amount of money shown in the pie chart is less than half of the total federal budget, with over 50% being spent on non-discretionary finding such as social security and Medicare.

While the military, Medicare, Social Security, and other programs are essential, it is imperative that activists and legislators appreciate the comparative differences in budget when deciding what programs need more support and what can be scaled back.

Read the 2009 Budget. Talk to your legislators about it.

Science Debate 2008

The Science Debate is realigning its efforts toward a Oregon debate rather than the planned April 18th debate in Philadelphia.

In their words "Obama has declined, Clinton has been non-committal, and McCain has been non-responsive."

The next debate is planned to be at Portland State University in May, and is to be moderated by PBS personality David Brancaccio.

"We will broadcast even if only one candidate confirms, and we will publicize who confirmed first, so this could be a major win for your candidate with these communities both nationally and in Oregon"

Encourage your candidate of choice to accept this important invitation.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mikulski Pushes for $1Billion More for NASA in 2009

Spaceports reports that Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) has issues a press release in conjunction with her effort to grant an extra $1 billion for NASA's 2009 budget.

“Science at NASA saves lives, saves the planet, and creates jobs for the future, so I am puzzled why the President’s budget flat-funds NASA science this year and for the next five years. With almost no real growth in NASA’s budget, NASA needs more resources to accomplish all of its missions”

We heartily agree, Senator.

Mikulski proposes an amendment to the budget for $1 billion for the purpose of paying for the shuttle accident and return to flight activities. CJS Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member of the Science and Space Subcommittee on the Senate Commerce Committee Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) join Mikulski in sponsoring the amendment.

Email, Fax, Call, and Visit your Congressmen to demand that they support this amendment and join the respectable congress members Mikulski, Shelby, and Hutchison.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

GAO Counsels: Space needs Strategy

The GAO recently assessed that our defense space efforts need to have a unified strategy to effectively use their resources and not duplicate efforts and costs. The principal of the importance of an overarching strategy is emphasized in the GOAs assessment of the military space; that same principal applied to all government space programs.

Communicate with the next president and tell him why he needs to provide that strategy for the space program and not let it drift aimlessly. If you agree, tell him that the strategy currently in place should be maintained and funded.