NASA, NSF Announce Support for White House STEM Engagement Plan

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with other federal agencies, have committed to a White House-led effort to strengthen education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Charting a Course for Success: A Federal Strategy for STEM Education lays out the federal government’s role in furthering STEM education by working with state and local stakeholders, the education community and American employers. Its goals include building a STEM-proficient citizenry, creating a STEM-ready workforce and removing barriers to STEM careers, especially for women and underrepresented groups.

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Presidential Memorandum on Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future

Credit: Matt Wade

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

SUBJECT:  Developing a Sustainable Spectrum Strategy for America’s Future

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to use radiofrequency spectrum (spectrum) as efficiently and effectively as possible to help meet our economic, national security, science, safety, and other Federal mission goals now and in the future.  To best achieve this policy, the Nation requires a balanced, forward-looking, flexible, and sustainable approach to spectrum management.

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Senate Commerce Committee Approve Deputy NASA Administrator, OSTP Director Nominations

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday approved the nominations of Jim Morhard to be deputy administrator of NASA and Kelvin Droegemeier to head up the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

The voice votes were conducted with no dissents. The nominations now go to the full Senate for a vote.

Morhard, 62, currently serves as the Senate deputy sergeant at arms.

Droegemeier, 60, is a respected meteorologist who is vice president for research at the University of Oklahoma.

Nominations Hearing Set for NASA Deputy Administrator, OSTP Director

Nominations Hearing

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a hearing at 10: 15 a.m. on Thursday, August 23, 2018, to consider three presidential nominees.

Completed nomination questionnaires are available at www.commerce.senate.gov/nominations

Witnesses:

  • Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, of Oklahoma, to be the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy [Questionaire]
  • Mr. James “Jim” Morhard, of Virginia, to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [Questionaire]
  • Mr. Joel Szabat, of Maryland, to be Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs at the Department of Transportation [Questionaire]

*Witness list subject to change.

Hearing Details:

Thursday, August 23, 2018
10: 15 a.m.
Full Committee

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on www.commerce.senate.gov.

Trump Nominates Oklahoma Meteorologist to be Science Adviser

Credit: Matt Wade

President Donald J. Trump has nominated Kelvin Droegemeier, who is vice president for research and regent’s professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, to be the new director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. In that position, he will serve as the president’s chief science adviser if confirmed by the Senate.

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White House Report Recommends Steps to Preserve Apollo Moon Landing Sites

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

When the Apollo astronauts visited the moon nearly 50 years ago, they left behind a treasure trove of abandoned equipment and supplies on the surface ranging from the lunar module descent stage to electric cars and even uneaten food.

With both governments and private companies eyeing a return to the moon, the U.S. government is working on strategies to not only preserve these sites for historical purposes, but to use them to support the next stage of human exploration of the lunar surface, according to a new White House report.

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China Cooperation Restriction Remains in Place for NASA, OSTP

The omnibus spending bill passed last week continues to restrict cooperation by NASA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the China.

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used…to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this Act,” the law states.

NASA is further restricted from hosting official Chinese visitors at any of its facilities.

The law includes an exception that allows meetings to take place if NASA or OSTP can certify, in consultation with the FBI, that the activities

(1) pose no risk of resulting in the transfer of technology, data, or other information with national security or economic security implications to China or a Chinese-owned company; and

(2) will not involve knowing interactions with officials who have been determined by the United States to have direct involvement with violations of human rights.

The certification must be submitted to the House Appropriations Committee with details about the meeting at least 30 days before it takes place.

Bridenstine Proposed Radical Restructuring of NASA Oversight Last Year

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Donald Trump’s nominee to become administrator of NASA proposed a fundamental overhaul of how the space agency would be run last year.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) proposes the establishment of a 21-member board to oversee the space agency, giving the NASA administrator a five-year term, and the creation of 10- and 20-year strategic plans.

The overarching goal of these proposals is to insulate the space agency from changes in direction each time a new presidential administration takes over.

ASRA was a catch-all bill that contained proposals for broad changes to the nation’s civil, military and commercial space efforts. Bridenstine did not intend the ASRA to be passed as a single bill but as a series of individual measures. Congress has not taken up any of the NASA management reforms included in bill.

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OSTP Science Division Now Empty, WH Official Says Nothing to See Here

On the same day Donald Trump signed an executive order reviving the National Space Council, the last employees of the science division of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) left their jobs, CBS News reports.

Eleanor Celeste, the OSTP’s assistant director for biomedical and forensic sciences at the OSTP, tweeted a picture of the sign outside the division’s office before leaving the building.

All three employees were holdovers from the Obama administration. The departures from the division — one of four subdivisions within the OSTP — highlight the different commitment to scientific research under Presidents Obama and Trump.

Under Mr. Obama, the science division was staffed with nine employees who led the charge on policy issues such as STEM education, biotechnology and crisis response. It’s possible that the White House will handle these issues through staff in other divisions within the OSTP…

“All of the work that we have been doing is still being done,” a White House official familiar with the matter told CBS News, adding that 35 staffers currently work across the OSTP.

“Under the previous administration, OSTP had grown exponentially over what it had been before,” the official said. “Before the Obama administration, it had usually held 50 to 60 or so policy experts, director-level people, for all of OSTP.”

Read the full story.

Science Committee Members to Trump: Stop Spreading Fake News

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Seven Democratic members of the House Science Committee have sent a letter to President Donald Trump telling him he should not rely on fake news, debunked research and misinformation when setting science policy.

“We are concerned about the process by which you receive information,” the one-page letter begins. “According to a story reported by Politico on May 15, 2017, your Deputy National Security Advisor passed along printouts of two Time magazine cover stories — one, a previously identified and debunked Internet hoax purported to be from the 1970s warning of a coming ice age, and the other, from 2008, a special report on global warming, with the intention of undermining concern about climate change.”

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Congressional Budget Gives NASA $19.6 Billion

NASA would receive $19.653 billion for fiscal year 2017 under an Omnibus spending bill released on Monday by Congressional appropriators, an increase of more than $600 million requested by the Obama Administration. NASA received just under $19.3 billion in FY 2016.

The bill was released seven months into the 2017 fiscal year. The government has been operating on continuing resolutions since the year began last Oct. 1.

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Obama Administration Highlights Space Achievements in Exit Memo

Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let's Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Astronaut Cady Coleman speaks to a group of fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts about her time in space, at the first-ever White House Campout, hosted by the First Lady as part of the Let’s Move! Outside initiative on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. NASA also provided telescopes and led a stargazing activity. {Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an exit memo highlighting the Obama Administration’s achievements in science and technology.  Excerpts covering achievements in space follows.
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White House Announces $110 Million in New Smallsat Investments

Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)
Spacecraft specialists prepare spacecraft to perform the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN) mission. (Credit: NASA Ames Research Center)

Federal Agencies announce more than $100 million in new investments to develop small satellite systems and technology.

by Thomas Kalil
Deputy Director for Policy
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

This past October, the White House announced the “Harnessing the Small Satellite Revolution” initiative. As part of the initiative, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other Federal agencies identified multiple opportunities to encourage both government and private sector use of small spacecraft for a variety of applications, some of which were showcased at The White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh.

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Smith, Babin Examine Policy Governing Indian Launch Vehicles

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information.

Yesterday’s letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy. The letters can be found here.

Harnessing the Small Satellite Revolution

Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)
Members of the NASA Ames Nodes Integration & Test team ready to integrate the Nodes 1 and 2 spacecraft (forefront) into the Nanoracks dispenser.(Credit: NASA)

by Steve Fetter and Tom Kalil
White House OSTP

Today, astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly are visiting the White House to talk to the President about developing innovative new space technologies. One critical area for technology development is making satellites more affordable, adaptable, and adept at providing the sorts of real-time information that will help advance knowledge out in space and on Earth.

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