End of shuttle program doesn’t mean end of American leadership in spaceflight

American leadership in human spaceflight is dead. Long live American leadership in human spaceflight.

Just as America ended the successful and celebrated Apollo program to blaze a different trail, now we are ending the space shuttle program to follow a different, more flexible path. Ending Apollo didn’t end American leadership in human spaceflight and ending the space shuttle program won’t end it either.

This week, Atlantis is scheduled to make the last ever liftoff of the space shuttle program. It is both joyful to see such an expensive, unsafe program end and tragic to see such an accomplished, ground-breaking program end.

There can be no doubt that the space shuttle program made the reusability of space vehicles a reality, brought dozens of crew and tons of cargo into space, and facilitated our space science goals for decades. These tremendous vehicles have served as an inspiration to countless Americans, and people around the globe.

But there is also no doubt that these vehicles fell far short of what we were initially promised: inexpensive, reliable transportation into space with 50 launches every year. What we actually received was fewer than 50 launches every decade from a technological dead end oftentimes grounded for years at a time due to technical problems. It killed 14 brave men and women and it cost about $1 billion per flight.


A new chapter for America’s space program

NASA inspires. It always has, and it always will.

I remember President Kennedy’s bold prediction that we would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade and I remember America delivering. I remember NASA delivering.

In my own life, I can distinctly remember experiences I had as a young teacher discussing basic principles of math and science in response to students’ questions about space. An ambitious space program led to remarkable gains in more than space exploration; it directly contributed to gains in my classroom.


America's space legacy

This weekend, NASA will launch Americans into space on the final flight of the space shuttle program. Our country owes a debt of gratitude to the thousands of men and women who gave so much to make this program successful, and more so to the fourteen men and women who gave their lives. Because of the satellites launched and repaired from the shuttle and its role in constructing the International Space Station, this program helped rewrite chapters in science books for future generations.

As we applaud those achievements, it is only fitting for us to ask what is next for our nation's human spaceflight program. Where are we going and when? What will it take to get there in regards to government investment and workforce needs? What technologies need to be invented to get there? Will we preserve America's space leadership legacy and exceptionalism?


Technology opens doors for women of the world

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the following remarks at the closing luncheon for the TechWomen Initiative

Being a woman in the field of technology is not always easy. Being a woman in any field is not always easy. But there are so many opportunities in technology that we just have to forge ahead. We’re doing so around the world because we want to make sure that all the tools that technology has made available are just as open to women as they are to men. I also believe that innovation thrives on good ideas, and women have a lot of good ideas. And we don’t want those ideas to just die. We want them to be shared and to help others and to create businesses and jobs and improve lives. And it has a greater impact when technology has access for everyone. 

Wherever you live, whether it’s in Silicon Valley or in the Middle East or North Africa, we want to support you. We want to support the software that you design, the engineering projects that you manage, the courses that you teach. We want to help you develop and apply new technologies, and we want to help you spread the word about what is available for all people.


Broadcast blackouts – where are we with reform efforts?

The threat of TV blackouts is never welcome news. For the millions of consumers unlucky enough to have had to worry about their favorite shows going dark, or actually losing their signals, the problem is not only real but frustrating and inconvenient. So what’s being done about it?

Blackouts occur when video distributors (such as cable, satellite and telephone companies) are unable to reach agreement with television stations over “retransmission consent” fees. These disputes frequently blow up into public relations battles with each side blaming the other and consumers getting caught in the middle. At worst, TV stations pull the plug and their channels go dark for days and sometimes weeks.

Why is this happening? Broadcasters say it’s because they need more money to pay for programming, so they have to charge higher rates. Program distributors say it’s because broadcasters have the incentive and ability to play hardball, since there is usually more than one distributor in each local market to keep carrying the station. We see it happen in large markets and small ones. 


The cloud is transforming Washington

When President Obama hosts his first Twitter town hall meeting Wednesday, it will mark the latest chapter in Washington’s migration to the Internet-based technologies already fully embraced by Americans beyond the beltway. Cloud computing, in particular, is transforming the way business gets done in Washington, and platforms like Facebook and Twitter are key to understanding voter concerns on hot-button issues like the economy, national security, health care and education.  

Over the past half-decade, social media has redefined the way government conducts its daily business. Cloud computing -- services and platforms delivered over the Internet (Facebook, Google, and Twitter are all examples) -- has become more powerful with the broad adoption of high-speed broadband. Stories about building movements, streamlining operations, recruiting followers and launching interactive Web platforms — once the stuff of front page news — have, for the most part, become routine. Stated simply, the cloud is now the most efficient way for government officials to collaborate, broadcast messages (an almost unbelievable 94 percent of all people engaged by an online political message watched it in full according to one recent survey) and directly source ideas that form the basis of public policy.


Stem cell bill ignores patients and real science

The reintroduction of a bill for federal taxpayer support of human embryonic stem cell research by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), will waste taxpayer funds on unworthy science and possibly delay cures for patients. While the text of the bill isn’t yet available at this writing, sources say it will be close or identical to her previous offering in the 111th Congress.

The bill’s purpose supposedly is to codify the Obama administration’s 2009 liberalized policy of federal funding for human embryonic stem cells. However, it lays out a policy that is neither ethically responsible nor scientifically worthy, including authorizing funds for the cloning (by somatic cell nuclear transfer) of human embryos for experiments.


Reputation in the modern world

Today, the important discussion about online privacy continues with the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on how best to protect consumers’ privacy in the modern world. Intel has worked hard to understand what consumers want out of technology and why.

We consistently hear that consumers have different ideas about what information deserves to be private. Consumers want to control information that is important to them, specifically information that shapes their online reputations and their families, friends, and work colleagues. People want to be able to choose what, when, and with whom to share certain information. After having made choices about how to protect this information, they do not want to be surprised by how the data will be used. By exercising control over their information, consumers aim to manage their reputation and to protect those they care about.


AT&T and T-Mobile merger would foster competition

It’s unsurprising to watch foes of the free market calling on Congress and federal agencies to block or heavily regulate the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile. They point to the pre-1980s telephone monopoly era, claiming a lack of competition and stagnated innovation are poised to return. Yet, while they demand government block or lob conditions on the merger, they fail entirely to recall that it was government which caused those mid-20th century problems – not the free market.

Prior to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a single company controlled virtually the entire nation’s telephone service under the protection and de facto authority of the federal government. Beginning in 1934, AT&T was a government-sanctioned and heavily regulated monopoly. The Federal Communications Commission didn’t just regulate service and prices, but actively took steps to prevent competition. And thanks to this level of government involvement, there was very little advancement of technology.


Getting illegal bus companies off the road

When a passenger steps on board a bus to begin a trip, they need to know that the bus they are on is safe and in good working order, the driver has met all the current certifications and the bus company is reputable and operates within the law.

On June 13, I, along with Federal Motor Coach Safety Administration Administrator Anne Ferro and three others, testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee about ways to make bus travel safer. We at the American Bus Association are working closely with members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, the FMCSA and all other interested parties as Congress continues its work on the new, six-year transportation reauthorization bill.