A minor miracle?

Congress is currently putting together an FY08 supplemental appropriations bill designed primarily to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, while the vast majority of the funding in the bill (over $165 billion) is devoted to the DOD, members of Congress are also tucking into the legislation a variety of non-defense provisions. If one senator has her way, those additions will include a little extra money for NASA.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the commerce, justice, and science appropriations subcommittee, announced Thursday the Senate’s version of the bill would include $200 million for NASA. That additional funding, the release states, in intended “to help pay back the costs and restore cuts to science, aeronautics and exploration programs that were cut in order to pay for the return to flight.” There is no other information in the release regarding how the money would be allocated, and what freedom NASA would have to move the money to programs of its own choosing.

That $200 million is far short of the $1-2 billion extra space agency supporters have sought in the past couple of years and are trying to win for the FY09 budget. Also, there’s no guarantee the $200 million will make it into the final bill: the Senate Appropriations Committee delayed its markup of the supplemental a week on Thursday because of “House inaction” on its version of the bill, in the words of full committee chairman Robert Byrd. Still, an extra $200 million would hardly be unwelcome at NASA.

17 comments to A minor miracle?

  • anonymouspace

    In addition to making it into the full Senate Appropriations Committee markup of the bill, the $200 million dollar increase would also have to be agreed to by the House and avoid an overall showdown with the White House over non-emergency items appearing in an emergency supplemental bill. The House did not agree to last year’s, bigger “Mikulski miracle”, and this White House has taken a dim view of unrelated Congressional adds to Iraq/Afghanistan funding bills.


  • gm

    two little and light electric-powered motors propellers could be used on the Orion to perform a precision LAKE landing at KSC and SAVE MONEY on airbags’ development: and Orion retrieval after Ocean landing:

  • Keith Cowing

    Why dig a square lake when you can just land in the Banana River? How goofy.

    Why use electric motors – you could use rubber bands and save on power too. Just have the crew wind them up.

  • Me

    Any lake that you dig is going to be salt water, and the environmentalists aren’t going to allow a lake to be made.

    ust plain goofy like the rest of the ideas, they belong in the comics section of the internet

  • gm

    the same reason why the Shuttles land at KSC rather than at Kennedy airport… :) …said that, why did you find “goofy” a HIGH PRECISION helicopter-like Orion landing at KSC rather than an Apollo/Soyuz-like “falls like meteorite” landing profile?

  • gm

    apart the HIGH RISKS of every UNPRECISE (sea or land) landing profile (just look at the latest Soyuz-TMA reentry…) an OCEAN-only Orion landing may cost over one billion$ per year to NASA for fixed retrieval costs (not a good policy in today’s NASA/USA/World economy crisis…)

  • me

    “Why did you find “goofy” a HIGH PRECISION helicopter-like Orion ”

    Because your concept is non viable and goofy. Your concept can’t control the descent of the capsule. Also there is not place to stow the propellers. Your concepts belong in cartoons since that is as real as they can get.

  • gm

    my concept can control the descent, of course, but only the directions (that’s enough for a precision landing) the place for the (very small and light) electric engines and propellers are in the Orion’s sides and that needs only good engineers to design it

  • gm

    post edit: change “my concept can control the descent” with “my concept CAN’T control the descent”

  • gm

    thinking again… the Orion’s TPS and the parachutes may act like wings giving some (limited) lifting force to the capsule, then, MY concept CAN (also) control (in part) the descent to have a much accurate (maybe, close to a few meters) Orion landing precision… :) …a really good concept, indeed… :)

  • Keith Cowing

    Hey, here’s a concept: why not land IN THE OCEAN!!!

  • gm

    “The AIAA thought of that”

    yes, it’s the link I give in my article

    “why not land IN THE OCEAN”

    too expensive… good only for the (unlimited funds) Apollo project

  • Kevin Parkin

    I disagree with the way this money is being added

    I disagree with with increasing NASA’s budget because the existing budget is mostly supporting highly inefficient organizational practises. The administravia side of NASA must shrink before the engineering side can grow.

  • Vladislaw

    “why not land IN THE OCEAN”

    Why not land on land, so when the landing takes place, it’s over. You do not have to worry about the capsule sinking, you do not have to worry about loss of crew drowning, you do not have to worry about the loss of samples. You land on land and the mission is over, you do not have to marshal ships and planes to find it and load it onto a ship.

    Granted the earth is 70 percent covered in water, but if NASA can’t hit a target the size of desert state like nevada how are they going to land on the moon or mars. Drop the capsule on USA somewhere, the astronauts can pop out get on their cell phones and with GPS can call in the location and get picked up, no need to worry about drowning the occupants.

    If the soviets can drop a can from space for 30 years is it unrealist to believe NASA can also?>

  • […] here is on the FY2008 supplemental appropriations bill working its way through Congress, which has an extra $200 million for NASA in the Senate version (to be marked up by the Senate Appropriations Committee today), but none in the House version. […]

  • […] Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) was the scheduled speaker at a Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon on Thursday, but with votes taking place on the Senate floor that morning, it wasn’t clear that he was going to make it—so much so that the luncheon organizers drafted a last-minute replacement, NASA administrator Mike Griffin. However, Nelson was able to get away and make it to the luncheon (after Griffin had started speaking) and he brought good news: the Senate had voted 75-22 to pass its version of a supplemental appropriations bill that, while primarily intended to fund military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, includes $200 million for NASA. […]

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