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NASA 2018 highlights

Brandon Moseley



NASA had an eventful 2018, which the agency highlighted in a press release.

The agency welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018.

“Our agency’s accomplishments in 2018 are breathtaking,” Bridenstine said in a statement. “We’ve inspired the world and created incredible new capabilities for our nation. This year, we landed on Mars for the seventh time, and America remains the only country to have landed on Mars successfully. We created new U.S. commercial partnerships to land back on the Moon. We made breakthroughs in our quest to send humans farther into space than ever before. And, we contributed to remarkable advancements in aviation. I want to thank the entire NASA team for a fantastic year of American leadership in space, and I am confident we will build on our 2018 successes in 2019.”

In 2018, NASA celebrated the agency’s 60th anniversary on October 1.

“President Eisenhower launched our nation into the Space Age and President Kennedy gave us the charge to reach the Moon,” Bridenstine said. “Over six incredible decades, we have brought the world an amazing number of bold missions in science, aviation and human exploration. NASA and its workforce have never failed to raise the bar of human potential and blaze a trail to the future. We celebrate our legacy today with great promise and a strong direction from the President to return to the Moon and go on to Mars.”

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer received a successful clean audit in 2018 and

DeWit led his Strategic Investments Division in working with the Government Accounting Office to pass an official Corrective Action Plan to increase accountability and transparency into the costs of large programs and proactively improve NASA’s program and project management activities.

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NASA’s new Space Policy Directive-1 (SPD-1) provides a directive for NASA to return humans to the surface of the moon for long-term exploration and utilization and pursue human exploration of Mars and the broader solar system. SPD-2 was passed by the White House in February to help ease the regulatory environment so entrepreneurs can thrive in space. SPD-3 was passed in June to helping ensure that the U.S. is a leader in providing a safe and secure environment as commercial and civil space traffic increases.

As part of America’s return to the Moon, in October, NASA issued a call for lunar surface instruments and technology payloads that will fly to the Moon on commercial lunar landers as early as next year. On Nov. 29, the agency announced nine U.S. companies are eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts.

NASA hosted a conference in February for scientists across a variety of disciplines to discuss future exploration and research using the Gateway, a spacecraft that will orbit the Moon and support human and robotic missions.


NASA issued several requests for information and ideas from U.S. companies about the Gateway’s use and supply, as well as lunar payload transportation capabilities, and construction of its power and propulsion element.

NASA continued to refine requirements for a U.S. habitat module for the Gateway and technology to use and process space-based resources through the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2).

The transportation system that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Gateway and help build the structure in orbit is coming together around the country for the first launch of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft.

NASA delivered the second piece of SLS flight hardware to its Kennedy Space Center in Florida earlier this year. The Orion stage adapter will connect the spacecraft to SLS and will be loaded with 13 small satellites on the first mission.

Engineers are completing final outfitting and assembly of the five major structural pieces of the SLS core stage at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville are putting the finishing touches on the 30-foot-tall launch vehicle stage adapter, which will connect SLS’ core stage to the interim cryogenic propulsion stage delivered to Kennedy last year, while engineers at Kennedy installed Orion’s reentry heat shield. The ESA (European Space Agency) delivered to Kennedy the service module that will propel, power and cool Orion during the first integrated flight test with SLS – Exploration Mission 1.

Workers at Kennedy completed construction on the main flame deflector at Launch Pad 39B, and engineers installed the final umbilical on the mobile launcher before rolling the massive tower on Crawler-Transporter 2 to the pad.

Also in 2018, NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars identified fragments of complex organic molecules in the shallow surface of Mars, giving us further evidence that the planet might have hosted life at one point in the distant past.

NASA launched and landed the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) on Mars. InSight landed on Mars in November to study the planet’s interior.

NASA announced that the next Mars rover in 2020 will continue the agency’s efforts to search for evidence of life and prepare for human arrival.

The agency completed more than 4,300 hours of testing on Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) Hall thrusters; shipped the Orion pressure vessel for first crewed flight to Kennedy; performed the final test of Orion’s parachute system; began preparation for test of Orion’s launch abort system; several parts of SLS entered production or were completed for second Orion mission; and new series of SLS RS-25 engine test firings included nine tests of 3D-printed parts. \\

NASA also launched the first combination 3D printer and recycler to the International Space Station to demonstrate new in-space manufacturing technology; solicited new ways to manage trash on deep space missions; ten companies were chosen to conduct studies and advance technologies to collect and use space-based resources; and the 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge progressed as participating teams created digital models of Martian habitats and constructed and tested foundation prototypes.

In 2018, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe was launched. This was the first-ever mission to “touch the Sun.” The mission broke records for fastest human-made object and closest approach to the Sun, and sent home its first light images – including a picture of Earth – in late October. Its first flight through the Sun’s outer atmosphere was on Nov. 7.

After a two-year journey, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission arrived at the asteroid Bennu, on December 3. OSIRIS-Rex has discovered water locked inside the clays that make up Bennu.

In December, NASA announced its Voyager 2 probe has exited the heliosphere – the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun.

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, astronomers found in June that Oumuamua, the first known interstellar object to travel through our solar system, had an unexpected speed boost and a change in trajectory. Scientists believe the object is a new type of comet.

After nine years of searching for planets outside our solar system, NASA’s Kepler space telescope ran out of fuel, but not before scientists were able to use it, and Hubble, to find hints of what could be a moon orbiting another planet outside our solar system. This would be the first exomoon ever detected.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was launched in April to continue the search for planets outside our solar system. The spacecraft, which began science operations in July, will survey the entire sky over the course of two years, searching for nearby exoplanets.

NASA’s Dawn mission, which launched in 2007, also ran out of fuel this year, but not before becoming the first spacecraft to orbit two separate bodies in the solar system – the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn helped scientists discover organics on Ceres and evidence that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history and might still.

The Independent Review Board established by NASA to assess progress on its James Webb Space Telescope unanimously recommended this year that development on the world’s premier science observatory should continue. NASA established a new 2021 launch date for Webb, and completed several critical tests and milestones in 2018, including vibration and acoustic tests and a simulation of the telescope’s complex communications. The two halves of Webb – the spacecraft and the telescope – were connected temporarily for a communications test during which they successfully “spoke” to each other.

New analysis of data from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft indicate that the magnetic field around the moon Ganymede makes it unlike any other in the solar system.

In 2018, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Scott Tingle, Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Anne McClain participated in their first spaceflight missions to the International Space Station. Veteran astronauts Joe Acaba, Ricky Arnold, and Drew Feuste also completed missions aboard the space station this year.

The crew members of Expeditions 54-58 supported more than 100 new U.S. science investigations. Information learned from the unique orbiting laboratory is being used to prepare for future missions to the Moon and Mars as well as to improve life on Earth through research sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory. In February, astronauts set a new record-setting week of research that surpassed 100 hours.

Research conducted on station in 2018 included experiments to understand plants on Earth as well as plants growing in space, and new facilities that may help us to understand the materials needed for exploring the universe, the physiology of life in space and the basic elements of the universe itself.

The space station now hosts the first combination 3D printer and recycler to demonstrate a new in-space manufacturing capability, Biomolecule Extraction and Sequencing Technology (BEST) to help identify microbes aboard the space station, and the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

Nine U.S. astronauts were assigned to Commercial Crew Program missions aboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. Both companies have begun final testing of their spacecraft and associated systems, and the first test flights are expected in 2019.

The first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station will be Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada and Suni Williams.

Expedition 56 astronauts installed new cameras on the station in June to provide enhanced views of the two new American spacecraft as they approach and dock to the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were forced to abort their planned mission to the orbital laboratory. They were reassigned to the Expedition 59 mission, targeted to launch Feb. 28, 2019.

Successful commercial partnerships with Northrop Grumman and SpaceX for cargo resupply resulted in five missions delivering more than 32,000 pounds of critical supplies to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Dragon capsule also returned more than 7,800 pounds of investigations and equipment to researchers on Earth.

NASA began operating a new space communications satellite to support more than 40 NASA missions in low-Earth orbit as well as astronauts living in space on the orbital laboratory, enabling it to continue communications support well into the next decade.

NASA continued to update the space communication and navigation networks that support 83 missions, returning data from the solar system, and beyond, back to Earth. This includes upgrading emergency communications ground stations that support the space station and refurbishing its Bermuda Tracking Station, which supports launches from the agency’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, and will support launches of commercial crew to the space station and Orion/SLS missions to the Moon from Florida. The agency issued a call for studies to explore designs incorporating commercial elements into future space relay services.

NASA selected 13 companies to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station.

NASA and its space station partners marked the 20th anniversary of the launch and construction of the first elements of the International Space Station.

In April, the agency awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company a contract to build the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) aircraft, designated the X-59, which will demonstrate quiet supersonic flight over land. In July, NASA signed an agreement with its French counterpart to collaborate on research predicting where sonic booms will be heard as supersonic aircraft fly overhead.

Acoustics experts at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland recently used the center’s Aero-Acoustic Propulsion Laboratory (AAPL) to complete an evaluation on a small-scale model of a Learjet engine exhaust, or nozzle, system.

In October, an X-59 model was tested in a wind tunnel at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia to collect data about the aircraft’s flight controls.

In November, the X-59 project completed a rigorous review and the agency committed to the project’s funding and development timeline.

Methods for measuring public perception of supersonic noise from the X-59 were tested over Galveston, Texas, using a NASA F/A-18 research jet.

Another major aeronautics focus was NASA’s ongoing work in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) – a safe and efficient system for passenger and cargo air transportation in and around urban areas.

In May, NASA partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and industry to demonstrate new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) concepts that help maintain safe spacing between drones beyond visual line-of-sight.

In June, NASA’s remotely-piloted Ikhana aircraft successfully flew in the National Airspace System without a safety chase aircraft, relying on NASA-developed technology and moving the United States one step closer to normalizing unmanned aircraft operations in the national airspace.

In November, the agency announced plans for a UAM Grand Challenge.

NASA engineers used a test stand called AirVolt to test the cruise motors that will power NASA’s first fully electric X-plane, the X-57; the agency looked into how icing affects jet engines at high altitudes; completed a series of Acoustic Research Measurement flights that combined several technologies to achieve a greater than 70 percent reduction in airframe noise; and conducted research to furthered the ability to fly safely with newly configured, highly flexible wings by flying the X-56 to collect data on wing flutter models and ways to suppress it.

NASA worked in 2018 to help modernize and improve the nation’s air traffic management system by transfer to the FAA of NASA technology developed so aircraft arriving at busy airports can be managed more efficiently.

NASA and the Department of Energy demonstrated a new nuclear reactor power system that could provide surface power on the Moon and Mars.

A team of NASA engineers demonstrated the first: fully autonomous X-ray navigation in space, which could revolutionize NASA’s ability to pilot robotic spacecraft to the far reaches of the solar system and beyond. NASA announced 10 new lunar focused Tipping Point partnerships with six U.S. companies.

The Robotic Refueling Mission 3 launched to the space station aboard a SpaceX rocket. The technology demonstration will store and transfer super-cold cryogenic fluid in space, helping mature capabilities for robotic satellite servicing and refueling.

The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna CubeSat mission advanced high-speed data downlink from space, a communications technology also used by two small satellites to relay InSight’s Mars landing data back to Earth.

A small satellite achieved space-to-ground laser communications for the first time. The Optical Communication and Sensor Demonstration mission transmitted at a data rate of 100 megabits per second – 50 times greater than standard communications systems for spacecraft this size.

NASA advanced additive manufacturing for rocket propulsion and successfully hot-fire tested a combustion chamber made using new 3D printing techniques.

A team of engineers completed ground demonstrations of the autonomous capture portion of the Restore-L satellite servicing project.

NASA’s three In-space Robotic Manufacturing and Assembly partners completed ground demonstrations of robotic arms, vision systems, additive techniques and other cutting-edge technologies to assemble structures in space.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program funded more than 40 payload flight demonstrations, providing opportunities for researchers to test new technologies and helping mature the suborbital flight industry.

In September, the innovative heat shield technology, Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology conducted a flight test.

NASA awarded more than 550 small business contracts, totaling more than $180 million.

NASA scientists using an array of NASA satellite observations have mapped locations around the world where the availability of freshwater is changing. The study found that Earth’s wet land areas are getting wetter and dry areas are getting drier.
NASA satellites were used to help combat a potential outbreak of life-threatening cholera in Yemen.

In November, NASA scientists and satellite data analysts worked daily to produce maps and damage assessments for disaster managers battling major wildfires near Los Angeles and in Northern California.

A major international climate assessment funded by NASA and the ESA determined that ice losses from Antarctica have tripled since 2012, causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years.

NASA launched the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), its first mission to provide unprecedented measurements of the temperature and composition of Earth’s upper atmosphere.

During 2018 teachers-turned-astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold inspired thousands of students and educators through live events and video lessons from space.

NASA continues to offer educators and nonprofits low-cost opportunities to conduct research in space through its CubeSat Launch Initiative, including kicking off its 10th annual call for submissions, while NASA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Foundation are engaging K-12 students with a series of Future Engineers challenges.

NASA engaged in public events including: a National Symphony Orchestra Pops concert; “Space, the Next Frontier” concert celebration at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; “Spirit of Apollo” tribute from Washington National Cathedral; First Man press junket and red-carpet screening; Space Symposium; USA Science & Engineering Festival; International Balloon Fiesta; International Observe the Moon Night; Awesome Con; and EAA AirVenture, more than five million people had the chance to interact with representatives of America’s space agency.

NASA’s digital communications team won another Webby Award and four People’s Voice awards in 2018., the agency’s primary website, received its third consecutive, and 10th overall, People’s Voice Award in the Government & Civil Innovation category.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory received an Emmy Award in 2018 for Outstanding Original Interactive Program for its coverage of the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale at Saturn in September 2017.

NASA’s social media presence grew in 2018 to more than 186.9 million total followers across all accounts and platforms. The agency has the most followers of any agency or department in the federal government on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Google+. The agency also hosted 25 NASA Socials this year, bringing together more than 880 followers who engage with NASA via social media for unique in-person experiences of exploration and discovery.

To learn more about NASA’s missions, research and discoveries, visit:

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.


Aerospace and Defense

Mark McDaniel reappointed to NASA Human Exploration and Operations Advisory Committee

Brandon Moseley




Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, announced Thursday NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine’s reappointment of Huntsville’s Mark McDaniel to a two-year term on the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council.

Brooks initially recommended McDaniel in 2018 to Bridenstine. Bridenstine is a personal friend and former House colleague of Brooks. Brooks cited McDaniel’s past record of exemplary service on the NASA Advisory Council. The NAC is NASA’s highest civilian advisory board.

“Mark McDaniel has done an exemplary job advising NASA on its future missions as a member of NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee,” Brooks said, praising the decision. “Mark’s past service and qualifications make him an excellent choice for reappointment to another term on the committee. I congratulate Mark on his reappointment.”

“I greatly appreciate my friend NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine for his thoughtful consideration in reappointing Mark McDaniel,” Brooks continued. “Jim’s leadership at NASA has been exemplary, and I am glad he recognized Mark’s contributions to this important NASA advisory committee.”

“Mark McDaniel has been a dedicated member of the NAC for several years, and we look forward to him continuing to provide his expertise to the Committee,” said Bridenstine. “As we prepare to go forward to the Moon and beyond, it is critical that NASA has top experts like Mark on our team. His wealth of knowledge is a great benefit to the Artemis program, as well as our mission to send human explorers to Mars.”

“Congressman Mo Brooks has provided great leadership to our nation, state and NASA,” McDaniel said. “I thank Congressman Brooks for recommending my reappointment to the NASA Advisory Council- Human Exploration and Operations Committee.”

“I am confident that under the leadership of Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the tremendous team he has put together, our nation will put the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024,” McDaniel added. “Under Administrator Bridenstine’s leadership NASA is setting the stage for human exploration of Mars and the heavens beyond.”

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Then-NASA administrator Daniel Goldin appointed McDaniel to the NASA Advisory Council in October 2000, and then-NASA administrator Sean O’Keefe reappointed McDaniel to the council in November 2002 and November 2004. During McDaniel’s tenure on the NAC, President George W. Bush announced the “Moon, Mars, and Beyond Initiative,” which set the nation on a more aggressive pace for space exploration.

On Jan. 26, 2007, McDaniel received the NASA Public Service Medal for his “Leadership and Council to America’s Space Agency, his advocacy of Human Space Flight and Exploration and dedication to the Aerospace Community at large.”

Brooks is in his fifth term representing Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. NASA and its contractors are a major employer in the 5th District.


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Aerospace and Defense

Jones bill aimed at bringing jobs back from China included in Senate NDAA

Brandon Moseley



Sen. Doug Jones speaks on the floor of the U.S. Senate. (CSPAN)

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, said Tuesday that the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act will include a bipartisan proposal he sponsored last month to incentivize investments in American semiconductor manufacturing businesses instead of Chinese-owned companies.

The provision was approved in the Senate on Tuesday in a 96 to 4 vote as an amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA.

“We all know that China is a bad actor on the world stage, which is why it is so crucial that the United States continues to lead the world in semiconductor technology,” Jones said. “Not only will this provision help bring jobs back from China, it will incentivize investment in Alabama companies and will strengthen our national security by reducing reliance on foreign manufacturing.”

The Alabama Micro/Nano Science and Technology Center at Auburn University is a world leader in microelectrics engineering, and with 15 semiconductor companies in Alabama, the state stands to benefit substantially from increased investment in American semiconductor manufacturing.

Semiconductors are used in a large variety of electronic devices including smartphones, digital cameras, televisions and some computers. While the U.S. revolutionized the microelectronic industry and invented nearly all the key technology used to this day, competitors in China have made huge investments into their microelectronics industries in recent years to challenge and undercut U.S. leadership.

By 2030, Asia is projected to control 83 percent of the global semiconductor manufacturing supply while domestic production could be less than 10 percent. Jones said that if this were to happen, it would make the U.S. reliant on foreign-made microelectronics and would potentially pose huge risks to U.S. national and economic security.

The Jones amendment would direct the secretary of commerce to create a grant program for constructing, expanding or modernizing commercial semiconductor fabrication, assembly, testing, packaging and advanced R&D facilities in the U.S.

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It would also direct the secretary of defense to create a partnership program with the private sector to encourage the development of advanced, measurably secure microelectronics for use by the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, critical infrastructure and other national-security applications.

The amendment also requires the secretary of commerce to commence a review within 120 days assessing the state of the U.S. semiconductor industrial base. It establishes a Multilateral Microelectronics Security Fund, with which the U.S., its allies and partners will work to reach agreements promoting consistency in their policies related to microelectronics, greater transparency including supply chains and greater alignment in export control and foreign direct investment policies.

The amendment would direct the president to establish a subcommittee on semiconductor technology and innovation within the National Science and Technology Council and directs the secretary of commerce to establish a national semiconductor technology center to conduct research, fund semiconductor startups and a Manufacturing USA Institute.


Finally, the amendment creates a National Advance Packaging Manufacturing Program, and encourages the secretary of labor to work with the private sector on workforce training and apprenticeships in semiconductor manufacturing.

The House passed its own version of the NDAA on Tuesday. The Senate is expected to pass their version of the NDAA in the next few days. A conference committee will then be formed to address differences between the two bills in hopes of reaching a compromise version that will pass both chambers of Congress.

Jones faces former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Aerospace and Defense

Byrne praises House passage of NDAA authorizing additional Austal ship

Brandon Moseley



Rep. Bradley Byrne speaks on the floor of the U.S. House. (CSPAN)

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the William “Mac” Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 by a vote of 295 to 125. Congressman Bradley Byrne is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which passed an earlier version of the NDAA on July 1, 2020, by a vote of 56 to 0.

The bill includes an amendment authored by Byrne authorizing $260 million to construct an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel at Austal Mobile. This year’s NDAA is named for Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who chaired the committee during the 114th and 115th Congresses.

“The men and women of our Armed Services deserve our complete support, and I’m pleased that the House came together in a largely bipartisan manner to give our warfighters the resources necessary to protect us,” Byrne said. “Both in committee and on the House floor, all Members provided input to strengthen this bill, a practice that occurs far too little in today’s House. While I do not agree with everything in the bill, it remains worthy of support, and I’m hopeful that some of the partisan provisions added on the House floor will be removed through compromise with the Senate.”

Byrne said the additional Austal ship is important for Southwest Alabama.

“Importantly for Southwest Alabama, this bill passed with my amendment to authorize the construction of an additional EPF at the Austal shipyard in Mobile,” Byrne said. “I appreciate my Congressional colleagues for acknowledging Austal and the EPF’s importance to our national defense and for their support of the work performed by the 4,000 skilled men and women at Austal Mobile. Construction of this world-class vessel will move us even closer to the Navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet.”

The NDAA sets policy and authorizes funding for the entire United States military and has been passed by the House each year for the previous 59 years. The Senate is currently considering its own version of the NDAA.

Byrne pointed out several highlights from this year’s NDAA including that it adheres to last year’s bipartisan budget agreement and fully funds the Trump administration’s request.

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The bill includes $740.5 billion total for National Defense Discretionary programs, including $130.6 billion for procurement of advanced weapons systems and $106.2 billion for Research Development Test and Evaluation. The bill also funds a vital nuclear modernization programs to ensure that nuclear deterrent is safe and reliable. It fully funds the B-21 bomber, a new Columbia Class submarine along with an additional attack submarine, and begins work on the W93 warhead that will be critical to meet STRATCOM Commander requirements for the sea-based deterrent.

Byrne says the NDAA also takes a tough stance on China by laying the foundation for an Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative to deter China, modeled on the European Deterrence Initiative. The NDAA increases funding in emergent technologies, such as AI, to maintain a technical edge against China, and starts taking financial actions to pursue China’s graduation from the World Bank and greater transparency with China’s debt.

Byrne said that the NDAA provides support for troops and families, including a 3 percent pay raise.


Byrne said that the bill also deals with the COVID-19 response. It ensures that the Department of Defense has the diagnostic equipment, testing capabilities, and personal protective equipment necessary to protect our Armed Forces. It requires the National Security Strategy to address the provision of drugs, biologics, vaccines and other critical medical equipment to ensure combat readiness and force health protection.

Byrne said that the NDAA includes almost $600 million above the President’s Budget Request for science and technology and investments in critical emerging technology areas including artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and biotechnology.

The bill changed considerably on the floor of the House. Some GOP Congressmen including Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, voted for the bill in committee and against the bill on the House floor because of some of those changes. President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bill unless changes to the bill are made before it reaches his desk.

The Senate and House versions will go to a conference committee where a compromise version will be drafted that can pass both Houses.

Byrne represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. He is leaving Congress at the end of the year.

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Aerospace and Defense

Aderholt critical of Democrats’ NASA budget proposal

Brandon Moseley




Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, was critical of a Democratic-sponsored spending bill that level funds NASA at 2020 levels for Fiscal Year 2021.

“One of my greatest duties in Congress is serving as a member on the House Committee on Appropriations and as Ranking Member on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee,” Aderholt said in a statement to constituents. “As a member of these two bodies, it is my responsibility to diligently review the upcoming fiscal year spending bill. This year, NASA has been a huge topic, especially with the Artemis missions and President Trump’s request for an increase in the space programs budget.”

Aderholt said he thought it was a “mistake” to not give NASA more money this year.

“Space exploration and carrying Moon missions as well as planning for Mars missions spurs amazing innovations in the private sector,” Aderholt said. “Maintaining our leadership in space is also a national security issue. Overall, we are able to partner with other nations, but we must never be in a position of not controlling our own fate in space. That’s why I criticized the Democrats spending plan during a subcommittee bill markup this week and advocated for President Trump’s increased budget request for NASA. There is much our two parties can agree on with regards to the space program, and I look forward to continuing working on the space budget as this year’s legislative process continues.”

President Donald Trump had requested a 12 percent increase to the NASA budget. Much of that money would have gone to funding the Space Launch System and the Artemis mission to the Moon. House Democrats have proposed a zero percent increase.

“The flat NASA allocation reveals a determination to rebuke America’s moon-to-Mars Artemis initiative,” said Aderholt, the ranking member of the CJS subcommittee. “President Trump rightly wants more funding to reenergize America’s leadership in space, so much so he’s willing to pay for it within an overall austere budget request, and we should follow that lead.”

NASA is targeting 6:50 a.m. CST Thursday, July 30, for the launch of its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The mission is designed to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet using the robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms) and is the size of a small car.

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The rover will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars. Perseverance is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA hopes to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 and establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through the Artemis program.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.


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