Sunday, September 28, 2008

Politics and Current Space News

(Picture of Chinese spacesuit from China National Space Administration).

U.S. Senate Approves NASA Legislation:
(based on an article by Brian Berger posted on on September 28, 2008)

As reported by Brian Berger in his Sept. 28, 2008 article for, the U.S. Senate approved a NASA authorization bill on September 25 that gives Congress permission to spend up to $20.2 billion on the space agency in fiscal year 2009 and included in that bill is new conditions on the planned retirement of the space shuttle. If it becomes law, then NASA would be directed to take NO steps prior to April 30, 2009 that would PRECLUDE to option of flying the space shuttle past the 2010 retirement date. The authorization also has $1 billion to accelerate the development of the Orion CEV (Crew Exploration Vehicle) along with its launch vehicle – the Ares 1 rocket. There is also $100 million set aside for the development and demonstration of a commercial crew vehicle. The later is welcome news to this blogger.

Both presidential candidates (Barack Obama and John McCain) have paid lip service to the fact that NASA needs to keep its options open as far as when the shuttle actually retires. Mr. Berger points out in his article that this is about $2.6 billion more than what the White House requested – and also that it provides no actual money.

NASA Administrator Mike Griffin had already order a assessment on putting off the shuttle retirement and will make that report available to Congress. Unless order to do so by Congress, he will not release that information out to the general public. Which is wrong, this information does need to be out in the light of public scrutiny.

The language in the bill also sets things up for the next administration that enters office that NASA will be on track for a return to the Moon in 2020 using the Orion/Ares series of rockets.

China takes its next Bold Step in Space Flight-
(based on an article by Clara Moskowitz posted on Sept. 26 2008)

The Chinese were expected to make their own first walk in outer space on September 27, 2008 with 42-year old Taikonaut (astronaut) Zhai Zhigang. His fellow crew mates Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng will remain in the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft. He will be testing China new spacesuit design called “Feitian” which when translated means “fly the sky”. Liu Boming will stay in the orbital module wearing a Russian-built Orlan spacesuit. This will be China's first EVA (extravehicular activity).

The Shenzhou 7 reentry module is expected to land somewhere in Inner Mongolia on Sunday.

No comments: