In his speech Thursday, Griffin said that with “the budgetary resources currently projected during the critical development years of 2009 and 2010, we can reasonably forecast the Orion and Ares systems coming online by early 2015.” Griffin isn’t happy with that timeline, but said that “it would be far worse if I were to over-promise or fail to provide my most credible, realistic assessment to our stakeholders in the Congress.”
However, the Houston Chronicle reports that agency supporters in Congress will make another effort this year to increase NASA’s budget to speed up the Constellation development schedule. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) plan to work together to add $2 billion to NASA’s budget over the next two years to allow Ares and Orion to enter service in September 2013. Hutchison reiterated past arguments that an extended gap between shuttle and Orion “is a security threat to our country,” adding, “I just hope we don’t have to wait for a crisis.”
Hutchison said that she would again with Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to get the funding approved in the Senate. However, the bigger challenge would appear to be in the House, which did not approve any extra money in the FY08 budget and failed to accept the Senate’s extra billion in conference. “Lampson said he’s counting on a growing bipartisan sentiment in the House to assist NASA,” the Chronicle reported, without elaborating on extent and growth of that sentiment.