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VIDEO: House Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

House Science and Technology Committee Hearing on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request.

Date: February 25, 2010
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm EST
Witness: Charles Bolden


Video: Senate Commerce Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Science and Space Subcommittee held this hearing on the Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal.

Witness Panel 1:

  1. Charles Bolden , NASA

Witness Panel 2:

  1. Robert “Hoot” Gibson, Astronaut (Retired)
  2. Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer
  3. Miles O’Brien, Journalist and host “This Week in Space”
  4. A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Retired)

NASA Admin Charles Bolden Outlines Obama’s 2011 NASA Budget Request

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlines the administrations fiscal year 2011 budget request as the agency’s road map for a new era of innovation and discovery, and answers questions from reporters as the featured Newsmaker at the National Press Club in Washington.


Obama set to launch vision for NASA

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“President Obama will chart a course for NASA within weeks, based on the advice of a handful of key advisers in the administration and Congress. Obama, who met Dec. 16 with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, hasn’t said when or how he’ll announce his new policy.

The announcement likely will come by the time the president releases his fiscal 2011 budget in early February, because he must decide how much money the space agency should get.”

Via USA Today: Obama set to launch vision for NASA


SHELBY: AUGUSTINE COMMISSION TAINTED BY LOBBYISTS’ INVOLVEMENT

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U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today wrote a letter to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin calling for an investigation of the Augustine Commission’s staff. The Augustine Commission was tasked with reviewing U.S. human space flight activities and presenting objective options to the President on the optimal path going forward. In light of the fact that several members of the Commission’s staff are federally registered lobbyists for the commercial space industry, Shelby called on NASA to investigate how these staff members’ involvement affected the Commission’s findings:

“Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position,” Shelby wrote to Martin. “Clearly, these lobbyists, whom represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.”

The full text of the letter is below

December 14, 2009

The Honorable Paul K. Martin
Inspector General
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW
Suite 8V39
Washington, DC 20546-0001

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing with serious concerns regarding the Augustine Commission staff, their vocation, and their conduct while serving as Commission staff. It has come to my attention that several members are, in fact, federally registered lobbyists and that some of these individuals have taken direct advantage of their temporary roles on the Commission to further their personal business. Further, there are lobbyists that worked as Commission staff that are not even acknowledged in the report. This is both disturbing and unconscionable.

The Augustine Commission was tasked to review U.S. human space flight activities – a noble goal to ensure that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving its aspirations in space. I have a significant interest in the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program, the recent options presented by the Augustine Commission, and the pending decisions by the President on the future direction of NASA. However, I am concerned by the presence of lobbyists on this independent commission.

Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position. Clearly, these lobbyists, who represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.

Therefore, I ask your office to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the role of federally registered lobbyists on the Augustine Commission. I request your office investigate and document any and all contacts these lobbyists made while serving on staff on the Commission. It is clearly possible that these individuals used their position to enhance their professional contacts benefiting their lobbying business and their client’s interests. Further, I would like a review of any and all input these individuals had into the report and its findings.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to reviewing your findings on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Richard Shelby


Augustine Committee Submits Final Report

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Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee
Seeking a Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation

Executive Summary

The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources. Space operations are among the most demanding and unforgiving pursuits ever undertaken by humans. It really is rocket science. Space operations become all the more difficult when means do not match aspirations. Such is the case today.

The nation is facing important decisions on the future of human spaceflight. Will we leave the close proximity of low- Earth orbit, where astronauts have circled since 1972, and explore the solar system, charting a path for the eventual expansion of human civilization into space? If so, how will we ensure that our exploration delivers the greatest benefit to the nation? Can we explore with reasonable assurances of human safety? Can the nation marshal the resources to embark on the mission?

Whatever space program is ultimately selected, it must be matched with the resources needed for its execution. How can we marshal the necessary resources? There are actually more options available today than in 1961, when President Kennedy challenged the nation to “commit itself to the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

First, space exploration has become a global enterprise. Many nations have aspirations in space, and the combined annual budgets of their space programs are comparable to NASA’s. If the United States is willing to lead a global program of exploration, sharing both the burden and benefit of space exploration in a meaningful way, significant accomplishments could follow. Actively engaging international partners in a manner adapted to today’s multi-polar world could strengthen geopolitical relationships, leverage global financial and technical resources, and enhance the exploration enterprise.

Second, there is now a burgeoning commercial space industry. If we craft a space architecture to provide opportunities to this industry, there is the potential–not without risk–that the costs to the government would be reduced. Finally, we are also more experienced than in 1961, and able to build on that experience as we design an exploration program. If, after designing cleverly, building alliances with partners, and engaging commercial providers, the nation cannot afford to fund the effort to pursue the goals it would like to embrace, it should accept the disappointment of setting lesser goals. Can we explore with reasonable assurances of human safety? Human space travel has many benefits, but it is an inherently dangerous endeavor. Human safety can never be absolutely assured, but throughout this report, safety is treated as a sine qua non. It is not discussed in extensive detail because any concepts falling short in human safety have simply been eliminated from consideration.

How will we explore to deliver the greatest benefit to the nation? Planning for a human spaceflight program should begin with a choice about its goals–rather than a choice of possible destinations. Destinations should derive from goals, and alternative architectures may be weighed against those goals. There is now a strong consensus in the United States that the next step in human spaceflight is to travel beyond low-Earth orbit. This should carry important benefits to society, including: driving technological innovation; developing commercial industries and important national capabilities; and contributing to our expertise in further exploration. Human exploration can contribute appropriately to the expansion of scientific knowledge, particularly in areas such as field geology, and it is in the interest of both science and human spaceflight that a credible and well-rationalized strategy of coordination between them be developed. Crucially, human spaceflight objectives should broadly align with key national objectives.

These more tangible benefits exist within a larger context. Exploration provides an opportunity to demonstrate space leadership while deeply engaging international partners; to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers; and to shape human perceptions of our place in the universe. The Committee concludes that the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. This is an ambitious goal, but one worthy of U.S. leadership in concert with a broad range of international partners.

The Committee’s task was to review the U.S. plans for human spaceflight and to offer possible alternatives. In doing so, it assessed the programs within the current human spaceflight portfolio; considered capabilities and technologies a future program might require; and considered the roles of commercial industry and our international partners in this enterprise. From these deliberations, the Committee developed five integrated alternatives for the U.S. human spaceflight program, including an executable version of the current program. The considerations and the five alternatives are summarized in the pages that follow.

Key Questions to Guide the Plan for Human Spaceflight

The Committee identified the following questions that, if answered, would form the basis of a plan for U.S. human spaceflight:

1. What should be the future of the Space Shuttle?
2. What should be the future of the International Space Station (ISS)?
3. On what should the next heavy-lift launch vehicle be based?
4. How should crews be carried to low-Earth orbit?
5. What is the most practicable strategy for exploration beyond low-Earth orbit?

The Committee considers the framing and answering of these questions individually and consistently to be at least as important as their combinations in the integrated options for a human spaceflight program, which are discussed below. Some 3,000 alternatives can be derived from the various possible answers to these questions; these were narrowed to the five representative families of integrated options that are offered in this report. In these five families, the Committee examined the interactions of the decisions, particularly with regard to cost and schedule. Other reasonable and consistent combinations of the choices are possible (each with its own cost and schedule implications), and these could also be considered as alternatives.

Download the Full Report


Augustine Committee Announces Additional Meeting

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The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will hold a public teleconference on Thursday, Oct. 8, from approximately 1 to 2 p.m. EDT.

The only topic for discussion will be finalization of scoring of options the committee presented in their summary report on September 8, 2009.

This meeting will be held by teleconference only. The teleconference will be open to the public. The service limit is approximately 300 dial-in callers. Public participants will be in a listen-only mode. The following numbers are available to hear the teleconference:

Toll-free number: 1-888-373-5705
Other number: 1-719-457-3840
Participant Passcode: 190078

The meeting must be held on this date for the committee’s final report to support the time frame associated with the federal budget process. For this reason, it is not possible to accommodate the usual full public notice period. A notice in the Federal Register is expected to appear on or about Oct. 6.


VIDEO: The 2008 Space Debate w/ Walter Cunningham & Lori Garver

Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham representing Senator McCain, and former NASA Associate Administrator Lori Garver, representing Senator Obama squared off in a Presidential Space Policy Debate back in August of 2008 at The University of Colorado.

This debate is worth a re-watch as the entire NASA human space flight program is now under review by the Obama Administration.

Obama’s 2010 budget shows a massive decrease in the  total amount of funding available through 2020 for human space exploration. Funding for exploration (2010-2020) nose dived from $108 billion to only $81.5 billion.


Human Space Flight Review Committee Announces Meeting Agendas

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The Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee will hold public meetings July 28, 29, 30, Aug. 5 and 12. The meetings are open to news media representatives. No registration is required, but seating is limited to the location’s capacity. Agenda times are approximate and subject to change.

The first meeting will be July 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, 2500 South Shore Blvd. in League City, Texas.

The agenda is:

  • 10 a.m.: Committee chairman Norm Augustine opening remarks
  • 10:30 a.m.: Mike Coats, director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • 11 a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 12:30 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Johnson
  • 1:30 p.m.: International Space Station/space shuttle subgroup (Sally Ride, moderator)
  • 3:30 – 4: p.m.: Public comment period

The second session will be July 29 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT at the Davidson/U.S. Space and Rocket Center, 1 Tranquility Base, in Huntsville, Ala.

The agenda is:

  • 8 a.m.: Robert Lightfoot, director, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
  • 8:30 a.m.: Low Earth Orbit Access subgroup briefing (Bo Bejmuk, moderator)
  • 10 a.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Marshall
  • 11a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 1 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects continued
  • 2 p.m.: Integration subgroup briefing (Lester Lyles, moderator)
  • 3:30 – 4 p.m.: Public comment period

The third public session will be July 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Grand Ballroom, 1550 North Atlantic Ave., in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

The agenda is:

  • 8 a.m.: Bob Cabana, director, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
  • 8:30 a.m.: Exploration Beyond Low Earth Orbit subgroup (Ed Crawley, moderator)
  • 11 a.m.: Congressional perspective (presenters TBD)
  • Noon: Lunch break
  • 1 p.m.: NASA Constellation projects managed at Kennedy
  • 2:30 p.m.: Public comment period
  • 3 – 4 p.m.: Committee public deliberations

Following each meeting, committee chairman Norman Augustine will be available to answer questions from reporters. NASA Television will carry the meetings and news conferences live on the agency’s media channel. The events also can be viewed on NASA’s Web site.

The committee is planning two public meetings in Washington on Aug. 5 and 12. The Aug. 5 meeting is planned from 8 a.m. to noon EDT at the Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P St. NW.

The Aug. 12 session is expected to be the committee’s final public meeting. It is planned from 1 to 5 p.m. EDT at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Agendas will be released when finalized.


Bolden and Garver Visit NASA Langley

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(Above) NASA Administrator Charles Bolden arrives at Langley and greets Center Director Lesa B. Roe.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver addressed a standing-room-only crowd in Langley’s Reid Conference Center on Wednesday, while another group of employees watched from a quarter-mile away at the Pearl Young Theater.

Bolden spoke for 40 minutes about research, aeronautics, education, space and almost anything else anyone wanted to talk about. The people at Langley Research Center listened intently, and many heard the words of support they were waiting for from their new boss and his deputy. Garver noted that she has special affection for Langley because it is the only NASA center with a woman director. The director, Lesa Roe, introduced the two at the event.

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(Above) With NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver in the background, Charles Bolden addresses a packed house at the Reid Conference Center at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Questions from employees elicited thoughtful, sometimes unexpected answers. It was Bolden’s first visit as NASA administrator to the place he repeatedly referred to as the “Mother Center.” Several old friends Bolden knew from his 14-year career as a shuttle astronaut were present in the audience.

Bolden remarked in response to one question that while any operation “is always at a crossroads . . . NASA is at a critical crossroads.”

“My vision is that we will find ways to do a little bit of all of the things that we need to do,” he said.

With answers come “challenges,” which Bolden said he said he doesn’t consider a politically correct synonym for “problems.” NASA, he said, is about research. He described a third-grader’s drawing that soon will be on his office wall in Washington; it says “We’ll never know if we don’t go.”

“That’s why we do what we do,” he said. “What we do is research and experimentation. We are a research organization, but we don’t do enough R and D, basic research. I’ll go down on my hands and knees if I need to, but we have got to find more money for you all to do basic research.”

Bolden interrupted building applause in the room and told the audience to wait for action instead of words. “It’s easy for me to stand up here and say that,” he noted. “You’ve got to back this stuff up.” Bolden also asked for employees’ assistance.

“I need your help,” he said, “because we’re going to find ways to get back to basic research as well as applied research.”

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NASA, he said, is about research, and Bolden harkened to a child’s drawing that soon will be on his office wall in Washington. Lettered on that third-grader’s art is “We’ll never know if we don’t go.”

After a questioner offered a possible solution to several project issues, Bolden challenged employees to have the courage of their convictions. He encouraged center directors to support and nurture that courage.

In response to a question on the “10 healthy NASA centers philosophy,” Bolden said he has spent time working at Langley as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Goddard Space Flight Center. Visits to other field centers will come soon.

“You never make an assessment or a judgment about how everything is working until you have a chance to see it,” he said. “It appears to be working.”

In response to a query about the cost of industry’s use of NASA facilities, Bolden said he hoped to convene a summit of the major players in the aerospace industry.

“I need your help,” he said, “because we’re going to find ways to get back to basic research as well as applied research.”

NASA, he said, is about research, and Bolden harkened to a child’s drawing that soon will be on his office wall in Washington. Lettered on that third-grader’s art is “We’ll never know if we don’t go.”

After a questioner offered a possible solution to several project issues, Bolden challenged employees to have the courage of their convictions. He encouraged center directors to support and nurture that courage.

In response to a question on the “10 healthy NASA centers philosophy,” Bolden said he has spent time working at Langley as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Goddard Space Flight Center. Visits to other field centers will come soon.

“You never make an assessment or a judgment about how everything is working until you have a chance to see it,” he said. “It appears to be working.”

In response to a query about the cost of industry’s use of NASA facilities, Bolden said he hoped to convene a summit of the major players in the aerospace industry.


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