Amazing Hearing in Congress Yesterday, 12/12/12, The Honorable Ralph Hall chaired his last hearing concerning American spaceflight. Sadly, it wasn’t attended by all the members of the full Committee on Science, Space and Technology. What a shame – it was the best hearing the committee has had in memory. Nothing against the hearing that included Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Maria Zuber, and Mike Griffin; but this hearing had real substance.
Space News is reporting that an “ad hoc” panel of the National Research Council (NRC) is looking into possible NASA Field Center closures. This is a codeword for “downsizing”. If NASA is to survive this must happen sooner rather than later. Here is a brief portion of the article:
The ad hoc panel of the National Research Council (NRC) has its origins in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012 (H.R. 2112), which funded NASA and other federal agencies. The law set aside $1 million for the NASA inspector general “to commission a comprehensive independent assessment of NASA’s strategic direction and agency management.”
Space News reported today that Space Systems Loral of Palo Alto California was being sold to MDA Corporation of Richmond British Columbia, Canada. Here is the first paragraph:
PARIS — Canada’s MDA Corp. is buying the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial telecommunications satellites, Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) of California, for $875 million in cash in a transaction that does not include risks associated with a lawsuit between SS/L and one of its customers, the two companies announced June 26.
It is time for Senators on both sides of the aisle to acknowledge that our commercial communications satellite manufactures need relief from oppressive International Trafficking of Arms Regulations (ITAR). For too long ITAR has crushed American companies and put them at a direct disadvantage to foreign competitors in the free market. Competitors to such companies as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, ATK, and Loral openly advertise ITAR free satellites which are easier to buy.
The International Transfer of Arms Regulations (ITAR) reform has hit the United States Senate. Senator Bennet (D-CO) has introduced Senate Bill 3211 which would allow the President to remove certain items, commercial satellites, from the US Munitions List (USML) and ITAR requirements and move them to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Please click here for a one page white paper on the bill.
And so it begins. As leaks of the FY 2013 NASA budget begin to trickle out the special intrests groups are beginning to worry. Here is a piece of analysis that actually frames the argument pretty well. While old space continues to chug along consuming a larger peice of the NASA pie, new space will get by with what it has. It is interesting to see how the author here thinks that the government is trying to slow down "new space". Here is the pull quote: