Earlier this week NASA Watch reported that Sen. Shelby was fighting to redirect stimulus money from commercial crew activities to Constellation, going so far, reportedly, as to threaten to put a hold on the nominations of Charles Bolden and Lori Garver, and had won some kind of compromise on the funding from the administration (which, through NASA, had submitted the spending plan for the $1 billion in overall stimulus funding appropriated to the space agency.) Today’s Orlando Sentinel has a few more details, including that $100 million of the $150 million originally planned for commercial crew work will go to Constellation instead. The exact spending plans, including what NASA will do with the much smaller commercial crew funding apparently remaining, haven’t been released yet, although Sen. Barbara Mikulski tells the Sentinel that she expects “the issue to be resolved” next week.
Shelby’s argument has been that the exploration funding in the bill was intended solely for reducing the Shuttle-Constellation gap, a spokesman for the Alabama Republican told the paper (although there is no specific language dictating that in the bill). And certainly Constellation can use every bit of additional funding it can get. However, would that $100 million have a greater effect towards reducing the gap in US human space access if it’s spent on Constellation (where it might accelerate schedules by on the order of a month), or on commercial efforts that might (but are certainly not guaranteed to) be operational years before Ares 1 and Orion?
One other item: an OMB official tells the Sentinel that Shelby is apparently the only member of Congress that has attempted to block spending of any part of massive stimulus package.