If you are a NASA-aficionado like me, then you are aware of the the 2017 NASA Authorization Act that wassigned on March 21st, 2017. You may even have cheered for it, I know I did, at least parts of it. I didn’t know it was possible to have sooo many different feelings with 1 bill.
Take for instance the fact that the new authorization bill removes every single mention of earth sciences AND it also removed sections that were about NASA’s collaboration with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on the investigation of the Earth’s atmosphere. And then consider the reasoning; Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who has said in the past that he “is concerned in the current environment, that NASA has lost its focus” by focusing on climate change, has now freed them of that concern. Also during a debate over the new bill, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said the bill ensures “NASA is not burdened with funding other agency missions.”
So basically, not exciting what has been removed from NASA’s purview. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a democrat from Texas felt that this would have an impact as these programs helped to provide the space-based measurements which related to space weather. AND the data is/was important as the predictions can advise of devastating impacts on our terrestrial infrastructure.
Seemingly simple things such as safeguards to know when to avoid eating potentially toxic shellfish, when air travel might be problematic in certain regions and tracking unhealthy air quality are just a few of the items that will no longer be tracked if the bill is approved when it goes through the budget appropriations.
The bill has some good things as well and also some continue on things such as commercial rides to space. It also suggests the looking into commercial maintenance of the ISS. (At last check the ISS was to be decommissioned in 2020-2024?)
The TREAT Astronauts Act points out the need for medical coverage for US Astronauts that spend large amounts of time in space flight or perhaps in our Moon colony or our Mars colony. (finger crossed!) I am in full agreement with offering our Astronauts full health care. I just hope it’s the one that congress & the senators get and not the one the American people almost got.
Then the bill also requires NASA to meet standard cybersecurity best practices.
With NASA expectations leading to a concentration on space exploration, in many ways this is a very good thing, exciting even. It’s just sad the other items must be left behind. Who but the United States kept an eye, nose, ear, everybody part necessary to warn anyone who would listen and now who is going to step up now that is no longer the case?
On a personal note – I will be attending the March for Science in LA although there are many sites from DC to NY and various satellite locations to march as well. Check out thehttp://MarchForScience.com for details. Republican, Democrat, Independent…Science is there for all – it doesn’t choose side just state facts.
March for Science!!!