More on House appropriations reorg

CongressDaily (via offers some more details Friday about a potential reorganization of the House appropriations subcommittees. The report confirms that the VA-HUD subcommittee, which includes NASA, would be eliminated under the DeLay/Lewis plan, with NASA and NSF being reassigned to the Energy subcommittee. This would have the effect of making NASA a much bigger fish in a smaller pond: instead of being a $16-billion agency in a $90-billion appropriation, NASA would be an appropriations bill of about half that size. The article also notes that, not surprisingly, the Senate is in no rush to make similar changes in its own appropriations committee structure.

Meanwhile, News 10 Now, a cable news channel in upstate New York, reports that Rep. James Walsh (R-NY), the current chair of the VA-HUD appropriations subcommittee, confirmed that a reorganization that would eliminate his committee is being considered. Walsh said he believes he would remain a chair of a subcommittee, although he did not know which one. He said a decision about his future—and presumably of the reorganization plan—will come in about a week.

7 comments to More on House appropriations reorg

  • TORO

    As stated earlier, it is obvious NASA should not be in with DOT, which is tied into the energy dept., or else the ethics comparison of a modern crash dummy car millions of astronaut candidate material Americans use daily would be compared to the rocket side strapped Doo Doo bird. In with the war dept. would not help either since we sent the entire pacific fleet out to test the sub escape systems after the Kursk and did nada for the Astronaut. And the 1950’s bombers had ejection systems that could have similarly been installed and challenger…

    There’s really no good fit for NASA if we are an ethical nation, so just put NASA out all by itself and keep pretending the astronauts are no longer human, but instead some special remote category of crazed thrill seekers, and,like the death penalty moral issue, that we are not involved at all in the moral process – it is all their own duing, and no need to debate capital punishment, so no need to debate human space flight Doo Doo bird flights. We can treat them different, just as the Nazi’s considered those who bravely explored Aushwitz. Interesting the Aushwitz commemoration and Astronaut commemorations were about the same time. Set NASA as far apart from all other Americans who perform their duty to this nation, so that we can all sleep well at night, and find peace in our time, as prime minister Chamberlain would say.


  • Greg

    I really don’t understand what you mean by comparing astronauts to concentration camp survivors (by the way, it is spelled Auschwitz). This isn’t an attack, I just don’t see any reasonable comparison between the intentional murder of 6 million Jews and accidents in space. I’d be curious for you to explain what you mean.

  • TORO

    I figure it is not an attack, and you are probably right – it may not be a reasonable comparison. It is probably a glanced at today’s paper extreme comparison, and not probably not a good one, and I should have grabbed the paper on the table before attempting to spell Auschwitz – I imagine if I ever visit there it would be hard to mispell the word again.

    But my point is human spaceflight has ethics issues associated with it, and the decision to put humans back into a space shuttle ever again is a life and death issue; a prime moral issue regarding human spaceflight, and thus subject to debate – just like abortion, capital punishment, torture, smoking, war, etc. Obviously it is only a handful of people / astronauts that die or potentially die compared to other moral issues, but the point is human spaceflight is a moral issue, and the issues ovelap, and even though few people die it gets so so so much attention worldwide.

    There are many ethics therories to approach the issue. One method is to establish boundary conditions, and compare / contrast. I imagine at some point it was “brave exploration” to achieve the Canary islands in Greek and Roman times, but if Columbus had not achieved the Canaries I doubt he would have been funded to go beyoond and “explore”. Similarly, going to low Earth orbit, the Canary Isalnds of space, is hardly “brave exploration” any longer, but unlike Columbus is the most dangerous part of the Journey. Thus I argue our focus for the next 10 – 20 years should be developing and crash dummy testing a no cargo peanuts vehicle with an escape system or two to get humans to and from LEO. Once this is done, we can push the next boundary and the Moon, Mars, etc. will be easy to achieve. Until we achieve LEO at a much better fatality rate and controlled cost, we’ll just flounder around in LEO. The technologies developed to make the LEO and back trip safer could inspire automakers and transfer technoloy to reduce vehicle fatalities on our road and highways – which would be the utilitiarian and perhaps even a “double effect principle” justification for the project.

  • MrEarl

    Give us a break and stop pounding your “ethical” bleeding heart. There is a certain amount of risk involved in everything in life. If you’re a frequent airline passenger you should be comforted to know that a recent government study found that airlines do not need to install defenses angst shoulder launched anti-aircraft missals even though there is plenty of evidence that terrorists have targeted civilian airliners. It was considered too expensive considering the risk.
    I’ll be the first to say that NASA has sometimes misjudged safety concerns on the shuttle but overall it makes every effort to make the shuttle as safe as possible. Human space exploration is an inherently risky undertaking and there are two rules that you MUST accept.
    Rule number one, during space exploration good, courageous people will die.
    Rule number two, no one can change rule number one.

    Neither should we forget their sacrifices for our advancement into a new frontier.

  • TORO

    I barely touched the issue and arguements. I’ve sent the arguements to politicians. I don’t see blood, and I don’t claim to have the answer. All I said was it is debatable. You’re debate back is proof in the puddin’! There is, by the way, and interesting comparison of the space shuttle to commercial aircraft in the Roger’s Commision Testimony, regarding crit I components.

    My rule is it is no longer brave exploration to and from LEO. I say that is the new rule.

  • Matthew Brown

    Well the FAA already has rules for operation of things like the shuttle. A decade or so ago when i had my first crisis of faith with NASA i looked around with ways to get into space without NASA’s impedement. And well it was FAA’s experimental aircraft classifcation. And under those rules the Shuttle would be classified as such. WHich would allow for only mission critical crew members. No passengers, the high safty measures only come when you have passengers. So if Nasa was brought under the DoT it would operate under experimental aircraft rules, which do have a number of deaths from expiramental aircraft crashes. These just don’t get national coverage. SO Ethicaly the issues have already been dealth with with experimental airplanes. We just won’t be seeing millionairs purchasing tickets on the shuttle. Even if columbia never happened.

    But NAsa is not a regulatory agency so DoT is not a good model for where it should go. It is closer to DoE, scientfic reaserach and pratical applications. But it would be regulated by the FAA. Its not an easy fit in any case.

    As to deabating ethics of this. It is valid no matter if we, the space communicty thinks so or not. The people do, there are enought of a vocal minority that will raise it to stall forward movement. Politics is the art of getting things done. In otherswards how too appleal to all sides, specially when there is a side that believesNasa gets more money then Social security, education and the evironment put together.

    I know this problem is there and we have to address it, but i also know i’m not smart enough to for coming up with a solution.

  • TORO

    The old cliches are no longer valid – time for some science and engineering at NASA.

    The Sinosaurus human LEO transfer has a reliability likely twice the Shuttle. Further, from what you can believe of the Sinosaurus websites, the launch escape system is stated to be R=0.995. I don’t see the destructive testing this was based upon, but the Space Shuttle R=0.9999 was a myth as well.

    Regardless, a decent engineering comparison shows the Sino vehicle is 400 times safer than the American doo doo bird. There will always be risk, but why do they have a seat belt and air bag and we got nothing? We had the seat belt, destructively tested at WSTF in Nov. 1963 for Apollo, but then what happened? Where did the LES / in effect the seat belt go?

    As Rogers stated in his commission, we Americans sometimes get exhuberant in our success. Rear Admiral Truly wrote following Columbia he had no doubt Columbia would still be flying in 2005.

    The shuttle is a ship of fools. Until the next American human transport to and from LEO, and nothing more except LES’s, is developed and launched, the American human space program will flounder around at and below LEO – that much I have statistical confidence regarding.