Will NASA Suffer as Trump Administration Tightens Control?

Mike Pence

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order reconstituting the National Space Council under Vice President Mike Pence to better coordinate space policy and activities across the government.

Experts are split on whether the council will succeed in its goal or simply add another level of frustrating bureaucracy on top of the existing system.

There is another concern, however, that has received minimal attention thus far.

This is the first step of the White House imposing more control over NASA. Step 2 will come when Trump gets around to nominating a new administrator and deputy administrator to lead the space agency.

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This Week in Trump’s War on Reality

Screen shot of Scientific American website

This week the world was treated to starkly different headlines about the future of the planet and the Trump Administration’s actions about it. Above is a story about a report on the rapid warming of the Arctic region, with dire consequences for the planet.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration’s response is to pretend the problem doesn’t exist and hope it simply goes away.

Screen shot of The Washington Post website.

The EPA says the climate science website has been taken down for retooling. There’s little doubt that when it returns, it will rewritten to conform with the Trump Administration’s political judgment that climate change is nothing to be concerned about rather than the scientific consensus that the threat is real, worsening and potentially catastrophic to the planet.

The position becomes increasing untenable as the data pile up. Critics point to uncertainties in the climate models, but those are not enough to negate the clear evidence that we’ve got a serious problem on our hands that we can’t avoid addressing indefinitely.

For those who may claim this story has nothing to do with space, you are wrong. NASA and NOAA are in the thick of the gathering meteorological and climate data the EPA and other agencies use to determine policy. The Trump Administration has proposed cancelling three NASA climate missions and deep cuts at NOAA.

It also highly likely that it is only a matter of time before NASA’s website is scrubbed of climate change information in the same way the EPA’s website is being rewritten.

Trump Proposes Broad Range of Environmental, Energy and Health Cuts

Credit: NASA

If anyone had the slightest hope that Donald Trump might spare global warming research in his proposed spending plan, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stuck a knife through it during a contentious press conference on Thursday.

“As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward saying we’re not spending money on that anymore,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

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Science, Space, and Technology Committee Announces Priorities for the 115th Congress

Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today released the following statement along with an outline of the committee’s top priorities for the 115th Congress.

Chairman Smith: “An active two years lay ahead of us as we have important work to do in the new Congress.  The Science Committee plans to create transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.  The committee will work to make sure every agency research dollar spent works for the taxpayers who fund them.  We’ll work to re-stake America’s leadership in STEM concentrations by crafting critical science education initiatives, and we will conduct rigorous oversight of cybersecurity standards and breaches at federal agencies to ensure all Americans’ private information is secure.  Rebalancing NASA’s portfolio and setting course for its future successes will also be a key priority this Congress.  I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the new administration to carry out these goals to keep America at the forefront of the world’s scientific enterprises.”

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The Resistance Will Be Tweeted


Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.


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Trump Muzzles Scientists, Elon Musk Shills for Former ExxonMobil CEO

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

The muzzling of government scientists and agencies  that people warned about [see: Harper, Trump & Science a la Carte: A Warning From Canada] has begun under the Trump Administration.

Employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have seen directives from the newly minted leadership seeking to limit how they communicate to the public, according to multiple sources.

The moves have reinforced concerns that Trump, a climate change doubter, could seek to sideline scientific research showing that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, as well as the career staffers at the agencies that conduct much of this research.
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SpaceX Receives Final Environmental Approval for Texas Launch Complex

Artist's conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.
Artist’s conception of the proposed SpaceX commercial launch facility near Brownsville, Texas.

The FAA has published its final environmental impact statement on SpaceX’s planned launch facility south of Brownsville, Texas. The publication clears the way for the company to build the spaceport, from which it will launch Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

“The FAA has submitted the Final EIS to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),” the agency said on its website. “EPA will post a notification in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the Final EIS. The FAA will issue a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days following EPA’s notice in the Federal Register. The FAA Record of Decision will be published in the Federal Register, which concludes the NEPA process.”

The documents can be viewed here.