Charlie Brown or Snoopy: America’s Future in Space Hangs in the Balance

As the Apollo 10 crew walks along a corridor on the way to Launch Complex 39B, mission commander Thomas P. Stafford pats the nose of Snoopy, the mission’s mascot, held by Jamye Flowers, astronaut Gordon Coopers’ secretary. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 10, the final mission before the first manned landing on the moon by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969.

During the 8-day voyage, Tom Stafford and Eugene Cernan took the lunar module (LM) to within 47,400 feet (14.4 km) of the lunar surface before rendezvousing with the command service module (CSM) piloted by John Young.


WikiLeaks Reveals Sino-American Tensions Over Satellite Knockdowns as U.S. Mulls Pact

Here’s some hair-raising news on the space weapons/debris front:

The United States threatened to take military action against China during a secret “star wars” arms race within the past few years, according to leaked documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph.

The two nuclear superpowers both shot down their own satellites using sophisticated missiles in separate show of strength, the files suggest.


Did Bush Nix U.S.-China Co-op? AvWeek Says Yes, NASA Says Not Really

Bush Administration Nixed NASA’s U.S.-China Cooperation Idea
Aviation Week

“NASA tried and failed to obtain Bush administration approval of an overture to China for a cooperative U.S.-China space mission, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin tells Aviation Week & Space Technology. The White House believes that a higher level of cooperation is too great a reward to China for its human rights and arms-trafficking violations of international law.”

NASA’s Response to AvWeek Article

Unfortunately, Aviation Week’s recent article of Dec. 21, 2008, entitled “Bush Administration Nixed NASA’s U.S.-China Cooperation Idea,” is inaccurate and misleading.


Happy Holidays! You’re Fired!

I realize this is a space blog, but I thought I would pause for a little perspective. Sometimes we get so focused on “affordable” $95,000 joyrides into space, and public spats about how much NASA has gone over budget on some Mars probe, that we can lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s going to be a miserable Christmas for far too many people. All because the companies they worked for were so greedy that they managed to lobby themselves right off a cliff with hare-brained lending schemes.

Bush administration ignored clear warnings
Associated Press

“The Bush administration backed off proposed crackdowns on no-money-down, interest-only mortgages years before the economy collapsed, buckling to pressure from some of the same banks that have now failed. It ignored remarkably prescient warnings that foretold the financial meltdown, according to an Associated Press review of regulatory documents.


Now They Tell Us: Bush Administration Releases Worrisome Climate Change Study Four Years Late

The Bush Administration released a new report that predicts large and harmful environmental and health impacts of human-caused global warming in the United States. The summary report, which by law must be released every four years, was completed only after a court challenge from environmental groups.

The New York Times reports:

“The last such assessment, undertaken in the Clinton administration and published in 2000, was attacked by groups and industries opposing restrictions on greenhouse gases. References to it were deleted from some government reports by political appointees in the White House.

“Environmental groups sued to force the completion of a new study. In court, the White House contended that a series of more than 20 studies requested by President Bush in 2003 satisfied the 1990 law, but Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of Federal District Court for the Northern District of California rejected that assertion last August and ordered a comprehensive assessment to be published by the end of May.”

Censoring Science at NASA

I’m currently reading a very interesting book about NASA’s work on climate change. “Censoring Science: Inside the Political Attack on Dr. James Hansen and the Truth About Global Warming,” by Mark Bowen, is an eye-opening account of the Bush Administration’s handling of global warming science.

Bowen recounts how that the Administration was determined to distort or censor anything produced by government scientists about global warming that contradicted its official position that more study was required before mandatory carbon caps or other actions could be taken.

Although the book focuses on Dr. James Hansen, a noted climate scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center, the story is much broader. Bowen says this effort was part of a larger, tightly coordinated campaign run out of the White House to censor government climate scientists in NASA, NOAA, EPA and every other agency that deals with climate change. This censorship involved the heavy editing of NASA press releases, the denial of permission to scientists to give interviews to media outlets, threats to people’s jobs, and other coercive measures.


Presidential Science Adviser Marburger Discusses Stanford Group, China

Jeff Foust of has a couple of reports on comments made by President Bush’s Science Adviser, John Marburger, during the Goddard Memorial Symposium concerning America’s future in space and whether there is a new “space race” with China.

Marburger emphasized that the nation’s goal is essentially to incorporate the Solar System into our economic sphere, Foust reports. The presidential adviser also took issue with several statements made by the Stanford Group, which gathered recently in Palo Alto to suggest alternative paths the United States could take. Marburger said the group put too much emphasis on exploration and not enough on economic benefits.

“Exploration by a few is not the grandest achievement,” Marburger said. “Occupation by many is grander.”

Foust also reports that the science adviser downplayed any rivalry with China. “I think it would be a serious mistake to construe the relative activities of China and the US as the beginning of a new space race,” Marburger said. “It would lose the opportunity for synergistic efforts” between China and the United States.

You can read Marburger’s prepared remarks here. Jonathan Goff also has thoughts about his remarks at Selenian Boondocks.