After a rollercoaster year for NASA, it looks like Congress isn't quite done tinkering with the space agency's future. A return to the moon is back on the table after a Florida congressman introduced a moon-centric bill in the House of Representatives, which he's calling the "Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act," or the REAL Space Act. Really.
As Congress adjourns there’s still plenty left for them to argue about, but NASA’s mission going forward isn’t one of them. The House of Representatives passed a NASA authorization bill late last night, outlining the budget – $19 billion in 2011 and $58 billion through 2013 – and goals for the space agency going forward. On deck: increased commercial space investment, a new heavy-lift rocket, and a focus on future deep space missions to an asteroid or even Mars.
In last week's testimony before Congress, Dr. Regina Dugan, director of DARPA, warned the House Armed Services Committee that the US was facing a lack of a critical resource -- a lack so severe that it endangers the security of the nation.
In an attempt to shorten the gap between the end of the Space Shuttle and the deployment of its replacement, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has introduced a bill that would extend the life of the Shuttle by two years. The bill directly contradicts the White House's space policy, which favors a rapid decommissioning of the Shuttle, followed by an emphasis on the private sector to maintain support of the International Space Station (ISS).
The US Congress has well over 100 caucuses, or groups of common interests. They're like the clubs in a high school that play chess or work on the year book, except they usually focus on a constituency like fiscal conservatives or Americans of Asian descent. Well, thanks to California Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon, Congress has a new caucus focused entirely on unmanned aerial vehicles.
After listening to a week of testimony, the House Judiciary Committee has crafted two bills that seek to deal with the problem of cyber-bullying. One bill is a nuanced attempt to create a conversation between children, parents and school administrators about the proper use of technology, and the other is, well, not.
Imagine you're driving across the Mojave Desert, and somewhere in the middle of absolutely nowhere you realize that the next gas station is further away than your car can travel on its current supply of gasoline. What next? That's the problem NASA mission planners are facing as the agency's supply of plutonium-238, the fuel used to power deep space probes like Cassini and surface scouts like the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory, are dwindling.
The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter was designed to defeat any threat it might face on the modern battlefield. However, earlier today an even tougher fighter based out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue shot down seven of the planes before they even got off the assembly line.