I wanted to take a minute and wish all of you a happy New Year. When I think of 2012 I think of what could have been, and what can be done. The issue of space policy will be a back burner issue for most congressmen and women. This is not to say they will not care, however, unless you are in a space state or district it simply will not get the time like deficit reduction. We will once again be VERY active in Washington DC and around the country.
We had one real victory in 2011 – Space Act Agreements for CCDev
Another Russian Soyuz rocket has failed again. Thankfully, it was carrying a Russian communications satillite and not Astronauts or Cosmonauts. This now brings the total number of failures to THREE in the last FIVE months. This is the same system NASA and Congress told us we could use to ferry our brave astronauts to the space station.
Just so everyone is clear: The quickest way to stop depending on Russia for rides into space is to fully fund the Commercial Crew program utilizing Space Act Agreements (SAAs).
The Chinese space program achieved a momentous milestone. Shenzou VIII successfully demonstrated autonomous docking with Tiangong-1. This is a huge mile stone that only Russia has demonstrated in space. NASA has never publicly acknowledged if we have demonstrated the capability. However, publicly, autonomous rendezvous and docking has not been achieved by the United States.
As if things couldn’t get worse for James Webb, it does. As reported in Space News, the mere existence of JWST is delaying science at a minimum. TPIS believes it will kill science missions for Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Who wants to wait around while this monstrosity of a project dies a slow painful death? The good people will simply move on and the next generation of explorers will be let down by the latter… but at least you tried, right?
Russia is fueling its Phobos sample return mission. Phobos is one of two moons orbiting Mars. The launch date is November 9th, next Wednesday. Have you heard about this or has this been quietly pushed aside by the influential main stream media? If successful, Russia will be the first nation to return a sample from a Martian celestial body. I hope America takes notice. We used to go to Mars every two years, just on general purpose. We went to explore, because that’s what America does.
Marshall Spaceflight Center is working on a robotic lander that will help "mature the technology needed to develop a new generation of small, smart, versatile robotic landers capable of achieving scientific and exploration goals on the surface of the moon, asteroids or other airless bodies." I encourage everyone to go to the link provided above and watch the video. It is really cool to watch the lander zip around and execute commands.
TEA Party in Space (TPIS) has always stated the position of competing the Space Launch System (SLS). Not only would this avenue promote innovation and competition, but would compete ideas in the private sector as well as creating jobs. We have been attacked in the past for calling SLS in its current form, "a government jobs program", when it reallty was. Now we have proof.