U.S. Export Laws Hamper Canadian Space Effort

canadaflagCanada’s space program hampered by U.S. laws
The Kingston Whig Standard

Canada’s space program has lots of ideas and commercial potential, but one of the big things holding it back is the lack of a Canadian launch program, the Canadian Space Summit was told over the weekend.

Also, both the military and civilian space research programs in Canada are hobbled by the fact that the country needs to rely on rockets launched by India, China or Russia, over which the U. S. holds wide-ranging veto powers.


U.S.-China to Cooperate in Space

A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight
A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

U.S. and China agree to explore space cooperation

The United States and China have agreed to discuss expanded cooperation in space science and to start a “dialogue” on human space flight and exploration, according to a joint statement released in Beijing on Tuesday. The U.S.-China Joint Statement said both nations looked forward to reciprocal visits by the NASA administrator and appropriate Chinese space leaders in 2010.


U.S. Needs to Change to Maintain Edge in Space

Executives concerned about U.S. dominance in space

The United States may lose its competitive edge in space unless it improves how it buys equipment, shores up its industrial base, and makes a firm commitment to human spaceflight, industry executives warned at a conference this week.

At the same time, companies must become more innovative and flexible to respond to rapidly evolving threats, industry executives and military officials said.


Accusations Begin to Fly Over Satellite Collision

The conservative Washington Times newspaper published an editorial on Friday that heated up the rhetoric surrounding a recent collision between American and Russian satellites:

Russian Maj. Gen. Leonid Shershnev surprised us Tuesday with his strange charge that the United States had engineered the collision between America’s Iridium 33 and Russia’s Cosmos 2251 satellites over Siberia on Feb. 10. More shockingly, Russia’s deputy defense minister, Gen. Valentin Popovkin, said Thursday that Russia was working on anti-satellite technology and already had the “basic, key elements” of such weapons.


Astronaut Selection Proceeds in U.S., Canada

National Astronaut Recruitment Campaign Closes in One Week
CSA Press Release

The Canadian Space Agency reminds Canadians that the National Astronaut Recruitment Campaign closes on June 26, 2008, with only one week remaining for candidates to apply to be considered for the Canadian Astronaut Corps.

By May 2009, two candidates taken from this process will be selected and begin their training to represent Canada in future space exploration missions, including long-duration spaceflights on the International Space Station. Among their tasks, astronauts will help assemble and maintain the Station and conduct scientific and industrial research enhancing the quality of life on Earth.

“The National Astronaut Recruitment Campaign is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Steve MacLean, CSA Chief Astronaut. “Anyone who is interested and who meets the minimum qualifications is strongly encouraged to apply. The CSA will conduct a thorough review to select the best candidates, and we hope to have the broadest possible pool of applicants.”

Since the Campaign launched on May 22, approximately 4,000 applications have been submitted. Approximately 20 % of all applicants to date are women.

U.S. Air Force Nominates 114 for Astronaut Program
USAF Press Release

The Air Force Astronaut Nomination Board has forwarded 114 nominations to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for consideration in the pilot and mission specialist categories. The board was held May 13 to 15 and the medical screening panel was held May 20 to 22. More than 200 noninees were considered. 

Forty-eight names were forwarded in the astronaut pilot category while 66 names were forwarded in the mission specialist category. Candidates from that pre-selection are then evaluated by NASA, with the highest-qualified individuals invited to Johnson Space Center, Houston, for interviews this fall.

Airmen selected by NASA will be detailed to the JSC astronaut office for a one-year candidacy program. They will enter the basic astronaut training program, contributing to the design, development and testing of the Ares launch and the Orion crew exploration vehicles. In addition, they will participate in planning for future human operations on the moon.

The Air Force nominees will compete with those nominated by the other services and civilian applicants. NASA selections are expected to be announced to the services in May 2009.

Politics, Presidents and the Vision: Where is the U.S. Headed?

The Space Review has some interesting essays this week concerning America’s future in space.

The Vision for Space Exploration and the retirement of the Baby Boomers (Part 2)
As the Bush Administration winds down, Jeff Foust and Charles Miller look at the substantial gap between the president’s bold vision for space exploration and the nation’s budgetary realities as millions of Baby Boomers begin to retire. It’s not looking real good, but they have a solution (which, of course, they will reveal in Part 2).

Obama’s Modest Proposal: No Hue, No Cry? (Part 2)
Greg Zsidisin finishes his look at how Bush’s vision might fare under a Barack Obama presidency and explores why space advocacy groups seem “pretty mum” despite the enormous stakes of this election.

Introducing the Committee for the Advocacy of Space Exploration
Jeff Brooks explains what this new political action committee is doing to promote space development.

Point-to-point suborbital spaceflight and military logistics

Taylor Dinerman takes a look at whether the military could help jump start point-to-point travel on Earth.

Boeing Exec: U.S. in Danger of Losing Lead in Space

America’s lead in space is eroding, and without extra funding and support the country could end up falling behind up-and-coming space powers such as India and China, a Boeing executive said on Wednesday.

“You have to be worried about the threat of the new guy opening a shop down the street,” said James Albaugh, chief executive officer of Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems. “It’s not a time to take a back seat. It’s about our nation’s ability to lead and not follow.”

Albaugh spoke at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. The Vail Daily has the full story.

MacKinnon: Next President Must Embrace JFK’s Space Vision

In a Houston Chronicle opinion piece titled “No place for partisans on NASA, space exploration,” former White House and Pentagon official Douglas MacKinnon invokes the spirit of a president who long ago sent his nation on a voyage to the moon.

“President John F. Kennedy addressed the importance of the United States having a vibrant and preeminent space program. ‘We mean to be part of it we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond. Our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to become the world’s leading spacefaring nation.’

“No matter who is our next president, he or she is either going to have to buy in completely to the premise of that young president, or stand aside and watch as other nations lay claim to the promise of space. There is no middle ground. John F. Kennedy understood it then, and the People’s Republic of China, with its ambitious manned space program run by its military, understands it now. Preeminence in space translates to economic, scientific, educational and national security advantages,” writes MacKinnon, who is now a Washington lobbyist.


Has ITAR failed?

Taylor Dinerman looks at what he views as the failure of ITAR – the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The American export control regime is designed to control the spread of military technology abroad. Instead, it has crippled the nation’s ability to compete in key technology areas, especially in satellite techology, Dinerman says.

“ITAR handed over control of an important part of the US high tech economy to a set of hyper-cautious, hyper-legalistic, and slow-moving bureaucrats,” he writes.

The National Security Space Office (NSSO) recently proposed loosening the ITAR regime, a move that received the endorsement of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Dinerman calls the proposed changes “minimal.”

“Even taking into account the statutory limits involved, few serious changes were offered. The most potentially important part was the promise to require decisions on licensing to be made within sixty days of the application,” he wrote.

Dinerman believes the next president should appoint a small task force to suggest meaningful changes in ITAR.

Presidential Science Adviser Marburger Discusses Stanford Group, China

Jeff Foust of SpacePolitics.com 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.