President Barack Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 into law last month. Now, Congressional appropriators must pass the NASA appropriations bill after they return from the 2010 mid-term elections in November.
October Washington activity touched on disaster preparation, international outreach, commercial contracts and a critical confirmation :
- The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy sent letters to Congress outlining agency responsibilities in the event of an impending near-Earth object threat. In such a scenario, NASA would notify the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which would warn state and local officials. Additionally, the Department of State would notify the international community as needed.
- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden led a small delegation to China, Oct. 16-21 to visit Chinese human spaceflight-related facilities and meet with senior officials in the Chinese government. The visit followed up a November 2009 U.S.-China Joint Statement that welcomed reciprocal visits of the NASA Administrator and the appropriate Chinese counterpart in 2010. Bolden said he hoped his trip would "form the basis for further dialogue and cooperation." (Read about the 2009 Space Foundation delegation trip to China here.)
- NASA announced it is seeking proposals from U.S. industry for a second round of commercial crew development contracts. Multiple awards are expected to be announced by March 2011 to further advance commercial crew space transportation concepts and mature the design and development of system elements, such as launch vehicles and spacecraft. NASA created the commercial crew development program in 2009 with $50 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program funded five companies to aid in the development and demonstration of safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation capabilities.
- The Senate confirmed Gen. William Shelton to receive his fourth star and lead Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.