Today’s Tidbits: March 5, 2018

Today’s Tidbits: March 5, 2018

Here are our tidbits for March 5, 2018:  Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran to retire; NASA seeks feedback on draft deep space interoperability standards; Mike French joins Bryce Space and Technology.  Be sure to check our website for feature stories and follow us on Twitter (@SpcPlcyOnline) for more news and live tweeting of events.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Cochran to Retire

Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi).

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) announced today that he will retire on April 1, 2018 due to health reasons.  The 80-year old Senator has missed many Senate sessions over the past several months.  In a statement today, he said “I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” and he will remain only until completion of action on FY2018 appropriations.  The FY2018 Continuing Resolution that is funding most of the government at the moment expires on March 23.

Chairing the appropriations committee is one of the most powerful  positions in the Senate.  Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), perhaps the strongest supporter of NASA’s Space Launch System in the Senate (it is being built in his state), is in line for the job in terms of seniority, but there is a musical chairs aspect to deciding committee chairmanships that makes it less than certain.  Shelby already chairs the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee that funds NASA and NOAA.   He could keep that position if he becomes full committee chairman.

The governor of Mississippi, Phil Bryant (R), will have up to 10 days after Cochran’s departure to appoint an interim Senator to serve until voters choose a permanent replacement in November.  Mississippi’s other Senator, Roger Wicker (R), is up for reelection, so there will be two Senate races in the state this year.  NASA’s Stennis Space Center is located in Mississippi.

NASA Seeks Feedback on Draft Deep Space Interoperability Standards

NASA published draft interoperability standards today that it developed with its partners in the International Space Station (ISS) and is seeking feedback before finalizing them.

NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Bill Gerstenmaier said at luncheon meeting of the Space Transportation Association (STA) that they were distributed to the 45 countries that attended the International Space Exploration Forum-2 (ISEF-2) in Tokyo this past weekend.

The draft standards are in the following areas:

  • avionics,
  • communications,
  • environmental control and life support systems (ECLSS),
  • power systems,
  • rendezvous operations,
  • robotics, and
  • thermal systems.

The purpose is to develop standards for future global cooperation in space exploration and build on the existing International Docking System Standard that allows government and private sector entities to build docking systems that are compatible with the ISS.

One potential application of the new standards is for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway NASA is proposing to build with international and commercial partners for future lunar and Mars exploration.  More information and a link to the form to provide feedback are in the NASA press release: [].

Mike French Joins Bryce Space and Technology

Mike French. Credit: NASA/Paul Alers.

Mike French, who was NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s Chief of Staff from October 2014-January 2017, has joined Bryce Space and Technology as Senior Vice President, Commercial Space.

French has a B.S. in business administration from the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley and a J.D. from Harvard Law School and practiced law in the defense and aerospace sector before serving in government.  Prior to joining NASA, he was on the Obama transition team; Deputy Director for Cabinet Affairs in the Obama White House; and Senior Adviser to the Secretary of the Interior.  He was Bolden’s Deputy Chief of Staff from 2011-2014.  After leaving NASA at the end of the Obama Administration, he was a principal at Port City Strategies in Alexandria, VA.

He will lead Bryce’s commercial space strategy and investment advisory practice.  Bryce is an analytic consulting firm for space and satellite, cyber, and R&D clients (formerly known as Tauri Group Space and Technology) founded by CEO Carissa Bryce Christensen.

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