Report from Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 18, the Space Foundation hosted a Space Foundation Correspondents Group featuring Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, United States House of Representatives who sits on the Appropriations Committee and the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Ruppersberger announced the results of a new satellite report he led as chairman of the Technical and Tactical Intelligence Subcommittee. The report examines several reasons American space dominance is declining. Key recommendations of the report include the development of a comprehensive plan for U.S. satellite architecture, clear decision authority for jointly funded programs, clearly defined program acquisition requirements at every stage, increased spending on research and development, and government review of ITAR and other statutes and regulations to ensure the industry is not overburdened.
Like the rest of the nation, Washington is still waiting to see what the post-election landscape will look like for the space industry. Many strong advocates for space in both the House and Senate, on committees of jurisdiction as well as members of the Congressional Space Power Caucus have retired or were defeated. The President-elect has agency review teams assessing policy, plans, and personnel. The NASA transition team is in place and already hard at work, as are teams across the government. As the new leaders in Congress and the administration get settled in the early months of 2009, they will be faced with a wide range of pressing space issues including government spending on space, retirement of the space shuttle, and development of the next generation of national security satellites for various intelligence and military needs.