President Donald Trump’s long expected nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next administrator of NASA ran into immediate trouble on Capitol Hill after it was announced on Friday.
Florida’s two Senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, both expressed serious concerns about appointing the three-term Congressman and former U.S. Navy pilot to lead the nation’s space agency.
“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson said in a brief written statement to POLITICO. (more…)
That’s what a couple of websites (here and here) are reporting this evening, with the caveat that — this being “Trump world” — anything could happen between now and the formal announcement planned for September or perhaps earlier.
You shouldn’t be.
During his three terms Congress, Bridenstine has made himself an expert in space policy, with a particular focus on promoting commercial space. He’s also been campaigning for the job since Trump was elected (and probably before). Bridenstine will also be in need of a new job soon. He promised voters he would serve a maximum of six years in the House, which means he won’t be standing for re-election next November.
The Trump Administration has also settled on a deputy administrator. That guy’s name is…
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies today approved a $53.4 billion spending bill that includes a decrease in NASA’s budget.
The $19.5 billion budget for the space agency is $124 million below the FY2017 enacted level and $437 million above the amount requested by the Trump Administration. Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved $19.88 billion for NASA.
Statement by AIA President and CEO David F. Melcher urging President Trump to withdraw the nomination of Congressman Scott Garrett to chair the Export-Import Bank of the United States and submit nominations for a full Board of Directors that will support the Bank’s key mission.
Arlington, Va. — Since the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) in 2015, AIA has continually stressed the need to establish a quorum on the five member Ex-Im Board of Directors and make the Bank fully functional to ensure America’s aerospace and defense industry — which supports 2.4 million American workers — can compete on a level playing field. That is why we initially met President Trump’s announcement in April of his support for Ex-Im and its mission with great optimism.
Former XCOR CEO Jay Gibson told the Senate Armed Services Committee this week that the cancellation of an engine contract by United Launch Alliance led the struggling Mojave-based company to lay off its remaining employees last month.
“We were a subcontractor, and in the days of continuing resolutions we felt like we had a commitment from our prime” for funding that he said would last a year or more. “With less than 30 days notice, we were told that funding was terminated.” (more…)
President Donald Trump has announced his intent to appoint Scott Pace as the executive secretary of the newly revived National Space Council.
Pace is director of the Space Policy Institute and professor of the Practice of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.
The National Space Council has been revived after a 24-year sabbatical. Vice President Mike Pence will oversee the operation of the council, which is designed to coordinate space activities across the government.
Dr. Pace currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES). From 2005-2008, Dr. Pace served as the Associate Administrator for Program Analysis and Evaluation at NASA. Prior to NASA, he was the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). From 1993-2000, Dr. Pace worked for the RAND Corporation’s Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). From 1990 to 1993, he was Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Office of Space Commerce, in the Office of the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Dr. Pace received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College in 1980; Masters degrees in Aeronautics & Astronautics and Technology & Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982; and a Doctorate in Policy Analysis from the RAND Graduate School in 1989.
Dr. Pace received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2008, the US Department of State’s Group Superior Honor Award, GPS Interagency Team, in 2005, and the NASA Group Achievement Award, Columbia Accident Rapid Reaction Team, in 2004. He has been a member of the US Delegation to the World Radiocommunication Conferences in 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2007. He was also a member of the US Delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Telecommunications Working Group, 1997-2000. More recently, he has served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2009, and 2011-15. Dr. Pace has been a member of the NOAA Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) since 2012. Dr. Pace is a former member of the Board of Trustees, Universities Space Research Association, a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society.
The Trump Administration and the House Armed Services Committee are on a collision course over four space- and rocket-related provisions in the fNational Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018).
Specifically, the administration is objecting to the following provisions:
the establishment of a separate space corps within the U.S. Air Force (USAF);
limitations on the funding of new rocket engines for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program;
a prohibition on the Pentagon procurement of transponder services on commercial satellites launched on Russian rockets; and,
requirements that the Defense Department find multiple suppliers for individual components of solid rocket missile systems.
Warren Ferster Consulting asks whether the newly revived National Space Council will make much of a difference at NASA, whose human deep space programs are dependent upon the Congressionally supported Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft.
Some have suggested that, with a space council chaired by Vice President Mike Pence cracking the whip, the full potential of companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin can be brought to bear in support of the nation’s space goals. The implication is this hasn’t happened to date, which is puzzling since leveraging commercial capabilities to support the International Space Station was the centerpiece of former President Barack Obama’s space policy.
Obama was challenged in that effort not by the lack of a National Space Council, but by Capitol Hill, where key lawmakers viewed his outsourcing initiative as a threat to the pet program that they mandated, the decidedly uncommercial Space Launch System.
The super-heavy-lift SLS is exhibit A of the argument that getting the Executive Branch speaking with one voice on space policy, while sensible, won’t matter a great deal if Congress has a different agenda.
To recap, Obama’s human spaceflight policy was to outsource ISS crew and cargo transportation and invest in technologies with the potential to change the economics of deep space exploration. To make budgetary room, Obama canceled Constellation, a collection of hardware development programs begun under his predecessor, George W. Bush.
The article notes that Bush got bipartisan approval from Congress for the Constellation program without a National Space Council. The program included Orion and two space shuttle-derived Ares boosters for human orbital and deep-space missions.
Obama subsequently canceled the Constellation program, only to have Congress revive the program as SLS and Orion. Only the smaller Ares orbital booster was canceled.
Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center last week was long on rhetoric and short on details, but a few themes and priorities have already emerged in the Trump Administration’s slowly evolving approach to the nation’s civilian space program.
NASA Will Lead Again
In a speech in which he repeatedly praised President Donald Trump, Pence used some variation of the word “lead” a total of 33 times (“leadership” 18 times, “leader(s)” eight times, “lead” six times and “leading” once). (more…)
Vice President and newly minted Chairman of the revived National Space Council Mike Pence visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday where he gave a speech promising a return to the moon and boots on Mars.
When? How? What will it cost? And how are we going to pay for it?
Pence didn’t get into that level of granularity. In fact, he didn’t get into very many details at all during his address to KSC employees.
Pence’s speech consisted of a lot of platitudes delivered with attitude and lots of latitude as to what it all meant in practice.
If you watched it and were baffled, welcome to the club. That seems to be the consensus of the media coverage I’ve seen so far among reporters who cover space.
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.”
Video Caption: 2017 is shaping up to be another year of unprecedented exploration, amazing discoveries, technological advances and progress in development of future missions – and we’re just six months into the year. Here are some of our top stories of 2017, so far – Mid-Year at NASA!
OK, let me clarify that. I’ve seen no real signs so far that Trump wants to do anything really bold in space. That could change; never say never. But, it’s been five months, and he hasn’t even gotten around to nominating a NASA administrator yet. His FY 2018 budget proposal doesn’t include anything novel.
“Mr. Trump’s charisma, vision, and style are reminiscent of JFK…”
Mmmmm…..no. Definitely not.
Here’s a challenge for you guys for the comments sections: JFK’s greatest and most inspiring quotes side-by-side with Trump’s worst quotes and Tweets. Don’t limit yourself to space.