Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Space"

October 24, 2014

Who Might Replace Wolf on House C-J-S?

approps006 052411 445x291 Who Might Replace Wolf on House C J S?

A House Appropriations Committee markup. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

With Virginia Republican Frank R. Wolf retiring, the top seat on the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee is opening up next Congress.

Under that subcommittee’s jurisdiction: the spending bill that covers the Justice Department, the Commerce Department (including the U.S Patent and Trademark Office), NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Whoever replaces Wolf would be in a position to influence not just the dollars, but also the policy of several science and tech-related agencies (for example, though limitation provisions in the bill that prohibit spending for specified activities).

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October 10, 2014

Weekly Recap: Net Neutrality, Mobile ‘Cramming’ and a Spacewalk

Among the highlights in happenings from the past few days: President Barack Obama talked net neutrality, AT&T Mobility agreed to a $105 million settlement over mobile “cramming” allegations, and an astronaut popular on Twitter took his first spacewalk outside the International Space Station. That and more news highlights as well as some Technocrat posts are below. For happenings from earlier this week, check out the Mid-Week Catchup.

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October 3, 2014

Weekly Recap: Football, Spectrum Incentive Auctions and Facebook Research

Happy National Manufacturing Day! Football, the spectrum incentive auctions and research processes at Facebook were among the issues that cropped up this week. Here’s a look at some of the highlights along with a few Technocrat posts in case you missed them.

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October 1, 2014

Why Did India’s Mars Mission Cost So Little?

mars globe valles marineris enhanced br2 335x335 Why Did Indias Mars Mission Cost So Little?

Mosaic of Mars, made up of 102 Viking Orbiter images. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On Wednesday, India’s space program signed an agreement with NASA for a joint Earth-observing satellite mission as well as a charter to establish a working group for cooperation on Mars exploration. That comes on the heels of India’s Mars orbiter reaching the red planet’s orbit last week. India’s Mars spacecraft’s relatively cheap roughly $74 million cost has drawn attention and in case you missed them, here’s a look at a couple of articles from the past week or so that break down why it cost so little compared to other efforts.

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September 16, 2014

NASA Announces Commercial Crew Contracts for Boeing and SpaceX

iss nasa 445x294 NASA Announces Commercial Crew Contracts for Boeing and SpaceX

The International Space Station, photographed by a crew member on the Space Shuttle Endeavor in a 2001 mission (Source: NASA)

Boeing and SpaceX will be the private companies that shuttle U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, ending NASA’s reliance on Russia for transport to the research station since the U.S. shuttle program ended in 2011.

From a NASA release announcing the contracts for the two companies totaling $6.8 billion:

These Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are designed to complete the NASA certification for human space transportation systems capable of carrying people into orbit. Once certification is complete, NASA plans to use these systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth.

The companies selected to provide this transportation capability and the maximum potential value of their FAR-based firm fixed-price contracts are:
– The Boeing Company, Houston, $4.2 billion
– Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, California, $2.6 billion

The contracts include at least one crewed flight test per company with at least one NASA astronaut aboard to verify the fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system can launch, maneuver in orbit, and dock to the space station, as well as validate all its systems perform as expected. Once each company’s test program has been completed successfully and its system achieves NASA certification, each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

A couple initial responses from the Hill:

House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas: “I congratulate Boeing and SpaceX on their achievements in the Commercial Crew Program. Both companies and the thousands of people they employ have a crucial task before them as they work to further U.S. space exploration. They also have a responsibility to the U.S. taxpayers who are making considerable contributions to the development of these commercial space capabilities.”

House Science ranking Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas:  ”I am encouraged by today’s announcement as it will allow NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX to complete development, testing and certification of the needed capability.  That capability must be proven safe according to NASA requirements and it must be cost-effective given the significant investment taxpayers are being asked to make.  These partnerships are important and I look forward to monitoring their development because we need safe and reliable crew transport to allow the full and productive utilization of the ISS.”

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 5:39 p.m.
Space

July 31, 2014

Old-School NASA Ground Ops Are Highlight of Ranger 7 Film

For #ThrowbackThursday: Fifty years ago today, NASA got its first close pictures of the moon with its Ranger 7 spacecraft after several failed attempts.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released the above 1964 film it produced on Ranger 7, and if anything, it’s an interesting look at old-school ground operations.

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By Anne L. Kim Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Space

July 28, 2014

This Week: Wireless Cramming, Minority Media and Microsoft’s Data Warrant

The highlights include a look at Microsoft’s challenge of a warrant for data located in Ireland, a Senate hearing on wireless cramming and a conference on issues for minority media and telecom businesses.

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July 23, 2014

NASA Rocket Could Miss 2017 Test Flight Date, Report Says

One of NASA’s major projects is building its heavy lift rocket, called the Space Launch System. It’s scheduled for its first test flight in 2017, but the Government Accountability Office says the program risks not meeting that date.

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By Anne L. Kim Posted at 5:47 p.m.
Space

July 21, 2014

Satellite Television, Internet Governance and Open Data This Week

The House will take up a satellite television bill this week and a subcommittee holds a hearing on three tech bills. Elsewhere in Washington, events on Internet governance, open data and broadband regulation are coming up.

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July 18, 2014

3D Printing in Space: There’s Much to Learn, Report Says

188124497 445x296 3D Printing in Space: Theres Much to Learn, Report Says

This 3D printer creation by Joshua Harker, shown in Paris in November, was not printed in space. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)

Three-dimensional printing has been a hot topic lately, with Home Depot even starting to sell the machines in some stores and the National Institutes of Health maintaining an exchange for 3D printer files. What about using 3D printing in space? There are potential benefits, but we still don’t know the full scope of this technology, and its capabilities in the short-term have been exaggerated, says a new report by the National Research Council.

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