For many months one of the mantras in the space community was to “close the gap”: find money to extend the life of the shuttle, accelerate Constellation, or both, to minimize the gap in US human spaceflight access (at least by government vehicles). That battle cry has died down in recent months, particularly as the Augustine committee found evidence that keeping the current program on its current schedule may prove to be prohibitively expensive. That makes it difficult to push for trying to accelerate the current plan.
However, it hasn’t stopped some people on Florida’s Space Coast for continue to push to close the gap. Florida Today reported yesterday that a group called the Aerospace Career Development Council is calling for an increase in NASA’s budget to close the gap in the draft version of a “Federal Space Policy Agenda” document the group is completing. That means both extending the shuttle and “speeding the development of the next manned rocket system”, according to the article. It’s not clear if the draft report specifically mentions Ares 1/Orion or not, although one of the council member quoted in the article is USA’s Florida head for Constellation. The document, in its final version, will go to federal, state, and local officials “in hopes they can use it to win funding for programs that preserve space industry jobs at Kennedy Space Center”, according to the report. With sky-high (Moon-high?) funding requests like that, though, it better be awfully persuasive.