NASA administrator Charles Bolden, in an op-ed in today’s Houston Chronicle, says that even before he was approached last year to run the agency “it was obvious to me we had serious problems in balancing our priorities” under Constellation and that “it would take courageous action on the part of the president and NASA leadership to realize our dream of sending people beyond low-Earth orbit.” In a defense of the agency’s new plan, he warns, “If we flounder, it is unlikely we will have a similar opportunity in our lifetimes. America will lose its leadership in technological innovation and human spaceflight.” Bolden is in Houston today and will give an all-hands address to NASA employees at noon EDT.
Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) tells the Decatur Daily that he believes the Augustine Committee was a “setup” to give cover to an administration desire to kill Constellation. “Why would you have a commission study something you’ve been doing 4 1/2 years and for billions of dollars?” he asks. “I met with Augustine and the principals, and realized this was a setup.” He is also opposed to turning to the commercial sector for launching crews, even if it benefits United Launch Alliance, which builds its rockets in Decatur. “What do you think would happen to United Launch Alliance, to Orbital Sciences or SpaceX, if there was a Columbia accident on their nickel? We are done. The country is done. That company is done,” he told the paper. “We can’t take that chance. It’s not a good idea to privatize a country’s conscience, a country’s pride.”
Another opponent of commercial crew, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), has been occupied recently with another topic: financial report. During that time he has spoken out against the concept of “too big to fail” that has been used to justify bailouts of troubled financial companies. “The message should be, unambiguously, that nothing’s too big to fail,” he said Sunday on “Meet the Press”. Now, the Space Frontier Foundation is turning his words against him: in a message posted on RLV and Space Transport News, the Foundation lists the long record of troubled or failed projects associated with the Marshall Space Flight Center, from elements of the shuttle program through various canceled launch systems to Ares 1 and 5. Shelby, the Foundation statement concludes, “should explain why MSFC has long been too big too fail and been bailed out repeatedly at the cost of many tens of billions of dollars.”