House Science Committee members and expert witnesses called for more robust space weather research, observations, and forecasting at a hearing last week. They also pushed for better defined roles in government, academia, and industry.
Increasing the odds that the fruits of federally funded R&D traverse the so-called “valley of death” between the lab and the market without spoiling has emerged as a top priority of the Trump administration.
Members of Congress expressed concerns at recent hearings over the deep budget cuts proposed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather and climate programs, with some pointing out they come in the wake of unprecedented destruction from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season.
In his new role as the Department of Defense’s top R&D official, Mike Griffin is arguing that DOD must shed its risk-adverse culture and further embrace prototyping to accelerate innovation. He has also elaborated on his top technology priorities in recent congressional testimony, stressing that DOD must counter other countries’ growing hypersonic weapons capabilities and should focus on transitioning directed energy weapons from R&D to deployment.
The House Science Committee unanimously approved a bipartisan bill that would direct the National Science Foundation to support several new grant programs focused on mentoring, training, and apprenticeships in STEM fields.
By the narrowest margin in the history of the space agency, the Senate confirmed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as NASA administrator yesterday on a party-line vote of 50 to 49. The other chamber of Congress also made NASA news this week, with the House Science Committee advancing a NASA reauthorization bill after a contentious debate over funding recommendations for its Earth Science Division.
At a hearing on the fiscal year 2019 Department of Energy budget, Senate appropriators questioned the rationale behind the administration’s proposed spending cuts to energy R&D programs and made clear they will reject them again this year.
Funding for the U.S. Geological Survey is increasing by 6 percent to $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. Most of the increase is designated for facilities and natural hazards monitoring programs, while other major program areas, including climate research, receive about level funding.
At an April 11 hearing, House Science Committee leaders expressed deep concern about the scope of foreign espionage campaigns targeted at U.S. academic institutions and sought advice on how to implement countermeasures while maintaining an open research enterprise.
The final spending legislation for fiscal year 2018 provides at least steady funding to most STEM education programs across the federal government, rejecting the deep cuts the Trump administration proposed.