Three things

By Phil Plait | October 2, 2008 7:00 pm

There are three things you need to know:

1) According to, President Bush just signed a bill into law (part of a MUCH larger temporary spending measure) that will allow NASA to continue to use Russian space services. A federal law says agencies cannot use Russia’s space services as long as their aerospace industries support Iran. This temporary measure waives that regulation, which means NASA can use Soyuz spacecraft to service the space station. I am having a hard time finding confirmation of this story as I write this. I’d link to the story but they have decided to start running full-page javascript ads which block their content, so to heck with that. Tip o’ the spacesuit visor to Dariush Molavi.

2) The Carnival of Space is up at Alice’s Astro Info blog. She did something very cool with it, and you should take a look. Personal note: I met Alice at an American Astronomical Society meeting in January, and at a workshop I was helping run I showed her how to start a blog! I only gave her a nudge, but she ran with it, and now has a blossoming online presence. So that makes her my blogdaughter, and that is very, very cool. If you’re on Facebook, you should friend her.

3) My dear friend Richard Saunders has announced the launch of Skeptic Zone, a rebirth of Australian online skepticism. A lot of good folks are involved, contributing articles, pictures, podcasts, and vodcasts. It’s drobbly, it’s bonzer, and every Bruce and Sheila should take a look.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, NASA, Politics, Science, Skepticism, Space

Comments (29)

  1. Drobbly? What the…?

  2. Hardz (in Oz)

    “It’s drobbly, it’s bonzer, and every Bruce and Sheila should take a look.”

    WTF are you talking about, Plait?

  3. There seem to be A LOT of Aussies over at as well. As the website advertises, “A Community For Atheists, Agnostics, Brights, Freethinkers, Humanists & Skeptics”

  4. Blogdaughter, huh? Does that make your real daughter my sister-in-blog?


  5. Naomi

    Phil… …please never try to use Australian slang ever again XD

  6. Yeah, I checked for anything and and Google news for “bush signed,” and came up with nothing… Can anyone confirm this? Maybe it was an article that Brian had typed out in case it happened…

  7. Charlie Foxtrot

    Crikey, Phil! Ya sound like a flamin’ drongo! Keep a lid on it, ya galah!

  8. rjohnston

    I’m pretty sure you made “drobbly” up, Phil…

  9. Davidlpf

    Lets throw some shrimp on the barbie.

  10. IVAN3MAN

    A jaywalking Australian in New York almost gets himself run over.
    A policeman grabs him by the arm and asks: “Did you come here to die?”

    To which the Australian replies: “No, mate, I came here yesterday.”

  11. I’m no drongo, you gullah!

    But the drobbly thing was totally for Richard Saunders. Inside joke.

  12. Naomi

    “I’m no drongo, you gullah!”

    Do you mean ‘galah’? :p

    “A policeman grabs him by the arm and asks: “Did you come here to die?””

    But… ‘to die’ doesn’t sound anything LIKE ‘today’! I mean, unless you’re from the back of Bourke, or something, but very few people actually are :p

  13. owlbear1

    With the success the Chinese had with their recent space walk. How long until they can get to the Moon?

    I think 10 years tops and the Chinese will have at least done an orbit of the Moon with taikonauts.

  14. IVAN3MAN

    @ Naomi

    My only experience of Australia is Crocodile Dundee. :-)

  15. IVAN3MAN

    @ Naomi

    You have to use an upper-case “P” after the “:” to get that tongue-sticking-out smiley to work. Like this — 😛

  16. Daniel

    We just keep on ratcheting up the tension with Russia…God help us (or FSM for all the atheists…much love) if McCain gets elected.

  17. @IVAN3MAN: “My only experience of Australia is Crocodile Dundee.”

    To paraphrase the movie… that isn’t a movie, this is a movie… *holds up a copy of “Wolfcreek”*
    Croc Dundee is a fantasy. Wolfcreek is a more realistic depiction of modern Australians.

  18. From the files of “hmmm, I thought I’d seen that before” and with the magics of the google monster I have managed to track down a reference to a “drobbly”…

  19. IVAN3MAN

    @ shane

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve just looked up Wolf Creek in Wikipedia, and I’ll be ordering the DVD from Amazon, pronto.

  20. Here’s the text of the article at :

    WASHINGTON — NASA now has the legal ability to conclude a new deal with Russia for the three-person Soyuz vehicles it will need to ensure U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese astronauts can fly to the International Space Station beyond 2011.

    The permission to move ahead with a new deal with Russia was included in a massive temporary spending measure U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Sept. 30 to keep the government operating at current spending levels until March.

    NASA has been prevented from negotiating a new Soyuz deal by a 2000 weapons proliferation law that bars buying space station-related goods and services from Russia so long as its aerospace companies continue to aid Iran.

    While the U.S. Congress granted NASA temporary relief from the Iran-North Korea-Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) in 2005, that only cleared the way for NASA to conclude a $700 million-plus deal with Russia for periodic Soyuz and unmanned Progress re-supply flights to the International Space Station through 2011.

    With the U.S. space shuttle due to retire in 2010 and its NASA-designed successor, the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares I rocket due to enter service before 2015, NASA officials have been pressing U.S. lawmakers all year to grant a new waiver.

    Attempts to amend INKSNA through a stand-alone bill that would have limited NASA’s post-2011 Russian spacecraft purchases to crewed Soyuz vehicles faltered after Russia invaded neighboring Georgia in August. Shortly after the invasion, the bill’s main congressional proponent, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) declared chances of passage all but dead.

    A series of last minute developments, however, combined to help win NASA the Soyuz waiver agency officials argued it desperately needed if the United States wished to continue to use the $100 billion space station beyond 2011. On Sept. 22, the INKSNA issue was given new prominence when Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, wrote House and Senate leadership urging passage. The next day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, normally chaired by Obama’s running mate Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, approved the International Space Station Payment Act of 2008 (S. 3103), clearing the bill for the full Senate’s approval.

    That particular bill, which would have limited NASA’s authority to buy Soyuz vehicles, went no further. Instead a simple extension of the current waiver was included in a massive temporary spending measure, known as a continuing resolution, that the House of Representatives passed Sept. 24 by a vote of 370-58. The Senate followed suit Sept. 27, clearing the way for the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act for 2009 (H.R. 2638) to be signed into law by Bush.

    In addition to permitting NASA to buy Soyuz and Progress spacecraft through 2016, the bill also keeps most federal agencies funded at their 2008 levels for the first five months of the new budget year, which began Oct. 1.

    NASA officials have been bracing for months for having to get buy without a budget increase for all or part of 2009. NASA’s 2008 budget was $17.3 billion.

  21. Naomi

    Hee, my mistake 😛 I’m used to MSN, which is non-caps sensitive, so ^_^


    (You should really auto-confirm all links pointing to Wikipedia 😉

  23. annoyingmouse

    (long time reader, first time poster and all that sort of thing)

    On the subject of Australian skeptics, I’ve been listening to Dr Karl’s Great Moments In Science ( It’s a brilliantly presented weekly spot debunking various stupid science myth that we all have to put up with. I believe he’s a former Australian Skeptic of the Year and author of a series of books called “Mythconception”. I came across him here in the UK through his weekly 3 in the morning BBC Radio 5 slot ( Probably there for all the skeptics like myself who struggle to sleep knowing the number of irrational people out there.

  24. Jose

    Wolfcreek? that isn’t a movie, this is a movie… *holds up a copy of “Dot and the Kangaroo”

    My other top choice for this joke was Crocodile Dundee 2.

  25. Jose

    Which characters specifically in Wolfcreek are most representative of modern Australians? The answer may affect my future travel plans.

    I’m glad I thought of Dot and the Kangaroo, though. For years, my answer to “What is the all time scariest scene in a movie.” had been the subway scene in The Wiz, but I had forgotten that terrifying bunyip scene. I saw both movies when I was a three, and nothing has come close to scaring me as much since.

  26. I would absolutely love to visit Australia. Should I ever manage that, I’ll have to time it so that I can attend a Skeptics in the Pub :-)

  27. Grand Lunar

    I read of the law with NASA using the Soyuz in the Orlando Sentinal as well.
    Though I’m not sure where their source was from.

  28. @Jose,

    Jon Jarret’s character is just your average Aussie serial killer bloke.


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