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NASA Director Alleged to Have Violated U.S. Satellite Law on Space Technology Collaboration

By Sharon Weinberger of Nature magazine --  Advocates of international trade and collaboration in space technology thought that they were making headway against rules that restrict both in the name of US
security. But on the same day that the US government released a long-awaited report that recommends easing those regulations, allegations surfaced that a NASA director may have broken the rules when he gave foreign nationals access to an agency research facility. It is not yet clear whether the allegations will strengthen
the case for preserving current restrictions.

The allegations were brought by unnamed whistle-blowers to US Senator Charles Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, who asked about the accusations in a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden on 18 April. At issue is whether Simon `Pete' Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, gave foreign citizens access to information that falls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a set of rules that aims to prevent the transfer of potentially strategic technologies to foreign countries. Critics have long complained that ITAR unduly hampers US companies that seek to export satellite technology; it has also created hurdles for academic and government research institutions -- including NASA Ames -- that have collaborators in friendly nations such as the United Kingdom and Canada.

Source - Scientific American.