A slight change in NASA’s budget announcement plans

NASA issued Sunday evening a press release revising its budget rollout plans. Gone is the press conference at NASA Headquarters at 3 pm EST. Instead, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and CFO Beth Robinson will participate in a teleconference at 12:30 pm EST. Also, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will be a participant of an OSTP press conference, led by OSTP director John Holdren, Monday at 1 pm EST about the federal government’s overall FY11 R&D budget. Holdren and Bolden will then make an announcement Tuesday at 10 am EST at the National Press Club to “introduce new commercial space pioneers, launching a game-changing way of developing technology to send humans to space.”

16 comments to A slight change in NASA’s budget announcement plans

  • richardb

    NASA is in a fight for survival if the plan is to kill VSE, postpone HLV for the indefinite future but at some future time then depend upon commercial US companies for LEO access till 2020 or the ISS is retired.

    Its quite possible that come Nov 2010, the American electorate will vote for candidates that pledge fiscal restraint if not for outright budget cuts. NASA will be an obvious victim since it obviously lied to Congress about the viability of Ares and the VSE.

  • Funding the ISS cost $2 billion a year and rumors are that the administration only going to spend $6 billion over 5 years for commercial development. There’s already enough money to fund those programs outside of Constellation and Space Shuttle resources. So unless Obama is suddenly going to continue flying Space Shuttles, NASA’s going to have over $6 billion dollars a year ($3.4 billion a year Constellation money plus $3 billion a year Space Shuttle money) in extra funds to do nothing with.

    So its pretty obvious that they’re going to use that $6 billion a year to build something! My guess would be a continuation of Orion funding and a new HLV.

  • McGlynn

    I just got word that the Constellation Program and the Heavy ELV have been canceled. The news should hit tomorrow.

    Money had been set aside to terminate the program ($1.9B). Money is going to COTS for resupply vehicle ($3.6B over 5 years) and for Hydrocarbon heavy lift engine development ($1.3B/5years).

    The budget is just been released to NASA in the last 48 hours.

    No additional shuttle flights.

    While I hope I am wrong, the source is pretty good.

  • red

    Marcel: “NASA’s going to have over $6 billion dollars a year ($3.4 billion a year Constellation money plus $3 billion a year Space Shuttle money) in extra funds to do nothing with.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they fund Orion and a new HLV like you’re guessing, but I’d factor in some of the following when estimating how much money they’ll have available for that:

    – transition/shutdown costs for Shuttle/Ares
    – possibly more than $2B/year for ISS
    – additional ISS money for actual use of the station
    – rumored new technology development program
    – robotic HSF precursors, assembly/servicing capabilities, telerobotics, or other HSF/robotic synergy
    – possible space infrastructure to support the Flexible Path

  • Marcel,
    My hope is that the one piece of Constellation that was good solid engineering, Orion, would be held onto and perhaps mated with another booster/boosters such as the Delta/Atlas boosters or Falcon 9. Really, if they do plan on aiming beyond LEO at any point those are the three options. There are other commercial providers, but not of heavies, at least not if we’re going to keep this domestic. I’ve been wondering where that money would end up as well.

    On the other hand, as was pointed out in another space politics comment section in the past few days, there’s nothing saying AresI/AresV won’t survive in some altered form. It has been said by Ride that Ares is going away, but the same could be said of the space station Freedom, which lives on as the US components to the ISS.

    Whatever does happen, it will be a big change, even if some vestige of the Ares programs remain. Honestly, this could be a serious PR coup for NASA if it is played right. If SpaceX gets COTS D and Orbital or ULA get it as well, we may see multiple manned US spacecraft funded by NASA before Ares I/Orion ever would have gotten off the ground. At the very least I think we’ll see Musk, et al pull it off. And if NASA can buy a piece of that forward momentum and stick a NASA logo on the side (and they will on the NASA flights, of course), this may end up being a quick and easy path to avoiding the draconian measures richard mentions. The only serious issue is that SpaceX won’t have manned Dragon prior to November.

    I just hope for NASA’s sake that this time around it gets the usual amount of attention (read none) in the elections. This may look good in two or three years, but for November things will be very up in the air.

  • omi

    Indeed hopefully NASA is still able to build a Heavy Lift of some sort at least otherwise hello new dark age of the 2020’s+

  • Robert G. Oler

    Well everyone we will see..but we could be on the verge of the most exciting time in space exploration since LTC John H. Glenn made his wonderful flight Robert

  • Ferris Valyn

    Robert – Just to clarify, I suspect you mean is FIRST flight

  • Robert G. Oler

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ February 1st, 2010 at 12:28 am

    to me that was his wonderful flight. (grin) …

    I wonder which one he enjoyed more…I had forgotten that he blasted off on his second…on my Birthday. He was, on the second flight (when I knew him) a prince of a fellow. I had some “Mercury” stamps from the first flight…and he kindly signed them.

    I started out opposed to the flight and actually it is the only op ed I have ever pulled before it was published…the more things went on the more I thought “well instead of him they would just send some flunkie and Glenn actually did something”. The odd thing is that I told Glenn that and he was very very pleasant about the thing. He signed the stamps after that.

    All in all a square up person. And a top flight Aviator…I have always wondered how he felt when they told him about the pack (on the Mercury flight)…he had to have known what it meant…

    Robert G. Oler

  • danwithaplan

    I am very glad that [SD] HLV (in any form, including Direct) is dead, if the rumors are true.

  • sc220


    I do hope we can start building infrastructure in support of Flexpath missions. One early mission that looks interesting is more extensive telerobotic investigation of resources in Aitken Basin. This could be coupled with polar-orbital Orion missions for high-bandwidth comm and operations with minimal communications latency. Perhaps then some lunar comm link could be developed and left in place for more extensive NASA and non-NASA telerobotic exploration of the lunar surface.

    In the meantime, NEOs beckon using Orion with human-rated Atlas/Delta upper stages.

  • Bill

    “Well everyone we will see..but we could be on the verge of the most exciting time in space exploration since LTC John H. Glenn made his wonderful flight Robert”

    …or passing the baton of space leadership to China and India. Good luck with that, Robert. Obama hates the space program. He has to say he’s in favor of it because he’s the President. If he could, he would redirect all $$ for space into poverty and education programs. The only reason he’s keeping earth science alive is because it helps his climate agenda. Remember, Mondale’s one of his heros. Exciting? Yes, for other countries!

  • MoonExploration

    @ Bill

    I agree with you Bill, to 100%.

    Obama gave at the beginning of the presidential campaign, his real idea of what he thought about the space program. And that wasn’t much.

    The reason I think it’s especially sad that the ambitions of a Lunar Base now is gone is because a base on the moon gives humanity an additional “solid” ground under their feet. A real step forward a space colonization and expansion into space.

    ISS does not offer anything long term and permanent in our expansion into space. A Lunar base can of course also be abandoned, but can also be re-staffed. If the ISS was to be abandoned, it would burn in the atmosphere within a relatively short time.

    Going to any of the Lagrange points in space is totally useless as well as taking humans to orbit any of the moons of Mars (to what use?). That is handled better with robotic missions.

  • richardb

    Nasa has had a long string of failures in developing new rockets since the 1970’s shuttle and now we have Ares I to add to that list. NASA will become the poster child of fiscal recklessness over the next 2 years. I expect the left, never a friend of manned space, will unite with the fiscal Republicans to cut the heck out of NASA in the new Congress, once Obama’s destruction of the manned space program is completed during 2010. NASA will have few friends in Congress after Obama is done working it over.

  • Major Tom

    “…or passing the baton of space leadership to China and India.”

    How? India will maybe start a human space flight program this year or next. China has yet to dock two human spacecraft together — forget space stations or exploration missions.


    “Obama hates the space program.”

    And that’s why the White House is proposing to increase NASA’s budget? During a time of historic deficits?


    “Remember, Mondale’s one of his heros.”

    Reference? When has anyone said that Mondale (or any election loser) is their hero?


    “a base on the moon gives humanity an additional “solid” ground under their feet.”

    National space policy should be based on whether astronauts have “solid ground under their feet”?


    “A Lunar base can of course also be abandoned, but can also be re-staffed.”

    Not if, like ISS, a lunar base has fatal failure modes that can’t be corrected without a crew present.

    Think before you post…

    “Going to any of the Lagrange points in space is totally useless”

    Because there are absolutely no observatory, solar warning, or other spacecraft at lagrange points worth servicing. Because lagrange points are such awful locations for staging lunar surface missions or missions deeper into the solar system.


    “humans to orbit any of the moons of Mars (to what use?)”

    Martian moon missions land — they don’t orbit.


  • Anthony Kendall

    I wouldn’t take Obama’s early-mid campaign comments about delaying Constellation for 5 years as his current position. As a candidate, becoming informed about all of the various constituencies and special interests in this country must be a long process. Rather than seeing any malice toward NASA, I simply see that he was un-informed, and now sees more of the value of the program.

    Hating Ares is not at all the same as seeing no future for American leadership in human space flight. Ares is (and soon to be was) a giant boondoggle, a compromise of the worst sort.

    If Obama leads NASA toward a vision of building commercial capacity, even without a heavy lift vehicle, human spaceflight will be better off than it ever has been. Only private industry has the ability to scale production to the point where costs go down. That’s the real problem all spaceflight faces.

    And, face it, earth sciences, robotic exploration, and space telescopes are what have brought NASA success in the last two (or four) decades. Why shouldn’t Obama see that and promote it?

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