What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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Congressmen Call for Clear NASA Strategy for Putting Humans on Mars


Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) have filed bills calling for NASA to develop a clear strategy for placing astronauts on Mars.

The Mapping a New and Innovative Focus on our Exploration Strategy (MANIFEST) for Human Spaceflight Act of 2017 calls for the space agency to accomplish this goal “through a series of successive, sustainable, free-standing, but complementary missions making robust utilization of cis-lunar space and employing the Space Launch System, Orion crew capsule, and other capabilities.”

The cis-lunar elements include the expansion of human presence into lunar orbit, lunar surface, asteroids, the moons of Mars, and the martian surface. The plan must include opportunities for collaboration with international partners, private companies and other federal agencies.

The strategy would identify how the International Space Station could support the program, and include “a range of exploration mission architectures and approaches for the missions…including capabilities for the Orion crew capsule and the Space Launch System.”

Why the Space Leadership Preservation Act Solves Nothing

Michael Griffin, Eileen Collins and Cristina Chaplain testify (Credit: House Science Committee)
Michael Griffin, Eileen Collins and Cristina Chaplain testify (Credit: House Science Committee)

By House Science Committee Democrats

WASHINGTON, DC  – Today, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to receive testimony on H.R. 2093, the Space Leadership Preservation Act, and to consider the issue of maintaining a “constancy of purpose” for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Committee also held a hearing on the Space Leadership Preservation Act last Congress.
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Why the Space Leadership Preservation Act is Necessary

Capitol Building
By House Science Committee Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today held a hearing on The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the need for stability at NASA. The hearing featured input from former astronaut and first female Space Shuttle pilot and commander, Eileen Collins, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, and Rep. John Culberson, author of the Space Leadership Preservation Act.

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Hearing on Space Leadership Preservation Act Set for Thursday

Capitol Building
Full House Science Committee Hearing

The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the Need for Stability at NASA
Thursday, February 25, 2016 – 10:00 am

Witnesses

Panel 1:

The Honorable John Culberson
Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Panel 2:

The Honorable Michael Griffin
Former Administrator, NASA

Colonel Eileen Collins
USAF (Retired); NASA Astronaut, Commander, STS-93 and 114; NASA Astronaut, Pilot, STS-63 and 94

Ms. Cristina Chaplain
Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

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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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House Members Propose Radical NASA Overhaul


WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release) – Today, Reps. John Culberson (TX-07), Frank Wolf (VA-10), Bill Posey (FL-15), Pete Olson (TX-22), James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Lamar Smith (TX-21), introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act, legislation that will change business as usual at NASA and result in a more stable and accountable space program. The bill would create a 10-year term for the NASA Administrator to provide crucial stability of the leadership structure at NASA so that decisions are made based on science and are removed from the politics of changing administrations.

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