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A Look Ahead for NASA

After many years working directly with Congress in one capacity or another, I decided that I needed to see NASA from a new perspective. While I enjoyed my job, I don’t think I am the only person that found themselves perplexed by the FY 2011 budget request and the various modifications thereafter. I guess, I really just wanted to understand better how we got where we did so I could see the big picture.

One thing that WAS clear to me in the FY 2011 budget request was that we weren’t investing in technology development. Ok…NASA was doing some, but the kinds of technology that made baby steps, not giant leaps like the NASA my parents knew. I want to be a part of that excitement so I joined the Office of the Chief Technologist. I am putting great faith that this initiative is the start of something good for me and for NASA. I hope I’m right!

Why should NASA have a centralized technology focus? NASA’s new Space Technology program is a critical to NASA’s future. Numerous external studies and Congress have concluded that NASA’s missions have suffered from an under-investment in new technologies. We need to get back to the cutting edge and while the big programs at NASA try to invest in new technology, other programs often are so mission focused that it often falls off the table when budgets get tight.

That mission driven focus, while understandable, especially with how our budgets go, has left us with dreams bigger than what we can capably accomplish.

Seeking life in the solar system and Earth-like planets around other stars, forecasting major storms and natural disasters, and preparing NEO deflection techniques is not possible with today’s technologies and budget constraints. NASA must change the game such that human exploration into deep space (to an asteroid or Mars) is sustainable and affordable.  For example, using today’s technology, the equivalent of 12 ISS units of mass is required in low Earth orbit to initiate a single round trip Mars mission. Similarly, we do not know how to land masses larger than MSL (about the size of a small car) on the Mars surface. We need cutting-edge research, technology, and innovation to advance our Nation’s future.

By investing in Space Technology, we will enable a more vibrant future for all of us on Earth. Space technology has already greatly impacted the communications, biomedical, and transportation industries, improving life for all of us. A NASA focus on Space Technology will also produce technological solutions of benefit in health and wellness, energy, environment and national security.

The greatest risk to our Nation’s future leadership in space, and to our economic prosperity, is the continued under-investment in transforming technologies.  Establishing a robust Space  technology program at NASA will bridge the technology gap we suffer from today.

Will our our nation have the political invest in this vital technology? As usual, the ball is in the Congressional court right now. While I think they know the future savings is real and tangible, it’s hard to for them to look past the current budget environment. After the election, we will know more, but I am looking forward to seeing what our nation’s space future will hold.

 

 

Congress and NASA

DISCLAIMER: **Anything I write here is my personal opinion and does not reflect the official position of NASA**


As a civil servant, I work for the President, whether I agree with him or not. Come January, it is quite possible that I could be in the untenable position of having to tell Congress to fund NASA with a budget I am disgusted by.

I hope that everyone will play a part in the political process and work hard to show Congress that they CAN change the fate of human spaceflight even if the President doesn’t step up with the funding needed to continue exploring our solar system.

In the campaign and in the budget proposal of 2010, the President talked about ending the so called “War on Science.” While I don’t believe that war actually existed, I do believe cutting NASA would stifle the economy and eliminate careers and technology we haven’t yet imagined. For my children, I think that is unspeakable!

So to the Space Tweep Society, thank you for your efforts and please watch closely as Congress makes progress through the budget. Write your Member of Congress and meet with the Space Legislative Assistant if you come to Washington, DC.

If you have children, have them write Congress how they want their space program to look! Before I was born, Congress decided I and everyone my age and younger could not see astronauts land on the moon. They canceled capabilities our country is now trying to rebuild. (http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4214/ch12-2.html). I hope this Congress does not make that decision for my children too.


DISCLAIMER: **Anything I write here is my personal opinion and does not reflect the official position of NASA**

How Twitter has affected my enthusiasm for space

It has been great to get to know people from around the country who are passionate about space. I have always been enthusiastic, but Twitter has helped me
feel more comfortable in expressing my enthusiasm and not feeling weird about it.

Thanks for making the blog, the society, and bringing us all together!