Monday, February 24, 2014

Deep Ocean Policy: Is it too early?

     Balancing the need for policies before there is a clear need for policies is always a delicate argument. In some instances developing policies before an industry reaches maturity can  head off unintended damage to an ecosystem. On the other hand pushing to create policies where it is not clear that they are needed can be viewed as premature regulation. The current discussion is focused on the deep sea where, according to this article in Space Daily, "Technological advances have made the extraction of deep sea mineral and precious metal deposits feasible." The article quotes Cindy Lee Van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory, "It is imperative to work with industry and governance bodies to put progressive environmental regulations in place before industry becomes established, instead of after the fact." The reasoning behind this argument is to get it right based on current science. If this logic were followed in the past would we have as much of an issue with space debris as we do now? As asteroid mining becomes more of a reality should we be formulating policies to address foreseeable issues? An example of creating policies for a young industry is the FAA creating a roadmap to integrate unamanned aircraft systems (UAS) into current airspace. On the other hand premature policy making could stifle innovation and prevent business from being carried out.  There is no one best course of action, but it is important to engage in open, objective dialogue.

Resources to explore policy and policy making:
Definition of policy:
Policy making cycle:

Friday, January 17, 2014

NASA Budget

This week NASA received $17.65 billion for fiscal year 2014. There is a video on NASA's website outlining the fiscal year 2014 proposal. In fiscal year 2013, NASA only received $16.9 billion. The House Appropriations Committee had approved a NASA budget of $16.6 billion for fiscal year 2014 while the Senate Appropriations Committee called for $18 billion. President Obama had asked for $17.7 billion. Th $17.65 billion should be applauded as a compromise that ended up in favor of NASA and the governments commitment to furthering the United State's interests in space exploration.

This spending bill gives NASA money for a mission to Mars, commercial space activities, and to explore Europa, one of Jupiter's many moons. The USA Today article explains how the budget deal preserves these many missions. According to Eric Berger of the Houston Chronicle this is a big win for the Europa mission, but the funds for the commercial activities fall short of what is actually needed to put a commercial crew in orbit by 2017. Jeff Foust provides reactions and an excellent summarization of the fiscal year 2014 NASA authorization bill at