Congress, NASA

Senate committee to markup NASA authorization bill today

The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to markup its version of a NASA authorization bill, among other non-space legislation, during a session this afternoon. There aren’t many details about the legislation itself: the hearing notice doesn’t even include a bill number for the authorization bill. CQPolitics reported yesterday that the bill will be similar to what the House approved last week, which is what Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the committee’s space subcommittee, said in remarks last month. There may be one key difference, though:

According to a Senate Democratic aide, the draft also contains language that would prevent NASA from retiring the shuttle fleet in 2010 if scheduled missions remain on its flight manifest. The administration decided to retire the shuttle fleet in 2010 and develop a new craft that could take astronauts farther into space.

The aide said the measure would require NASA to report on the steps, costs and schedule for recertifying the shuttle fleet beyond 2010 if that becomes necessary.

The House version, HR 6063, contained language not nearly as strong as what this article suggests: while it added a mission to fly the ISS, it states that the shuttle will be retired after completing that and the other missions on its manifest, “events that are anticipated to occur in 2010.” The House version also contains no language about shuttle recertification. Given that the White House had a strong negative response to the addition of the AMS shuttle flight in the House version, this language will likely provoke a similar, perhaps even stronger, response—perhaps even a veto threat?

10 comments to Senate committee to markup NASA authorization bill today

  • spectator

    I am surprised and pleased that Congress has ponyed up a couple billion to Nasa’s budget for the purposes proposed. Except for the shuttle missions. Have they forgot the 14 already killed during shuttle missions? Do they ignore how consistently the shuttle comes up with new ways to kill its crew? The last flight had the flame trench shatter and splatter brinks and mortor both away from the shuttle and in the direction of flight. Who imagined that the flame trench would be a threat? I guess for Congress 2003 is now a dim memory in people’s minds but job losses are a fresh threat during an election year.

  • Charles in Houston

    Fellow Observers Of The Space Scene -

    Keep your eyes open in case a need for Shuttle recertification becomes reality – we may see a variety of ways of recertifying the Shuttle for various durations. We have the OMDP, and have heard of the mini-OMDP, but we may see a developing variety of recertification options. Maybe they’ll have a Micro or Nano? We may have to sponsor a contest to come up with different acronyms.

    And I just hope that I don’t get struck by any “brinks” – they sound heavy!

  • Bill White

    The Jupiter 120 would have the capability of delivering AMS to ISS even after Orbiter is retired. Other ISS modules as well.

    Also, perhaps we need to coin a phrase to reflect the growing tendency of any space policy discussion to include an argument in favor of Direct 2.0, a tendency that now approaches 100%.

  • spectator

    Brinks to bricks is a mapping similar to how to who. Its also a cautionary example about posting before at least one cup of coffee and before being awake for at least 1 hour.

  • Airlin er

    Have they forgot the 14 already killed during shuttle missions? Do they ignore how consistently the shuttle comes up with new ways to kill its crew?

    Yes, it horrible to think that a mature airline industry is constantly thinking up new ways to kill paying passengers as well, several hundred this year so far.

    Rockets are not mature, therefore they can’t be trusted with public servants.

  • While I think the risk should not be the top concern — spaceflight is dangerous, folks, and is likely to be for as long as any of us are around — keeping the Shuttle flying one second longer than necessary is the worst possible outcome. That would eat up every penny needed for a new system, whether that is Constellation or something better. Absent a truly improbable number of billions of dollars increased funding, it would ultimately result in a far longer “gap.”

    – Donald

  • spectator

    “Yes, it horrible to think that a mature airline industry is constantly thinking up new ways to kill paying passengers as well, several hundred this year so far”.

    Lets not get silly folks. The obvious point you are missing is that the Shuttle LOC is about 2%. Now apply 2% to the airline industry and we’re talking hundreds of thousands dead every year.

    I’m not risk adverse about the shuttle, hell if I had the chance I’d fly it before retirement. But given its primary mission should be completed in 2010, why keep sitting at the craps table? Walk away and do as Donald has suggested, build the replacement because its a zero sum budget game game between Orion and the Shuttle.

  • [...] Senate committee to markup NASA authorization bill today [...]

  • Nemo

    Lets not get silly folks. The obvious point you are missing is that the Shuttle LOC is about 2%.

    Every other manned spacecraft falls into one of two categories: those that have an LOC rate of 2%, and those that never flew enough to even demonstrate an LOC rate of 2% (and among those that never flew enough, there is no reason to believe they would have been any better).

    In order to better the shuttle’s LOC rate, Orion would have to complete its first 62 flights without a fatality. I’m willing to bet that will never happen – either it will never fly that many times, or it will suffer a fatality before it gets to 62 flights.

    The reason to retire the shuttle is budget, not safety.

  • Vladislaw

    At two lunar flights a year for the orion it would have to fly for 31 years to reach 62 flights, I have a feeling that constellation will not be flying from 2016 (?) to 2047.

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