Report from Washington, D.C.
On February 27, the Space Foundation and the National Defense Industrial Association hosted the first Congressional Space Power Caucus breakfast of the year. The featured speaker, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, USAF, commander, Air Force Space Command, addressed a number of issues including the importance of space to the warfighter and the major areas of focus for Air Force Space Command.
As Congress begins its work in earnest on the Fiscal Year 2009 federal budget, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how much activity will occur on appropriations bills this year, because this is the final budget request for this President, and the opposing party holds majority over Congress. Additionally, movement on reauthorization bills expected this year, for NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Intelligence may experience difficulties.
The first oversight hearings for the FY2009 budget began in late February, with representatives from the Department of Defense and NASA appearing before Congress to discuss their funding requests. The House Committee on Science and Technology brought in The Honorable Michael Griffin Ph.D., NASA Administrator, to answer questions about NASA's plans and priorities. In his testimony Griffin also addressed the need for Congress to amend the Iran Non-proliferation Agreement by the end of this year to allow the U.S. to pay for rides on Russian launch vehicles to the International Space Station after 2011.
The Space Foundation, along with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, hosted a briefing on February 28 about space weather and its impacts. As part of the Foundation's ongoing efforts to raise awareness about and support for space-related endeavors by congressional staff, the briefing featured presentations from a panel of experts. The speakers were Louis Lanzerotti, Ph.D., New Jersey Institute of Technology, Center for Solar Terrestrial Research, Department of Physics; Lawrence Zanetti, Ph.D.,The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory; Maj. Herb Keyser, USAF, Space and Intel Weather Exploration; and Robie Samanta Roy, Ph.D, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Officeof the President.