Congress, NASA

A quick review of the Senate NASA authorization bill

The Houston Chronicle has obtained and posted a draft of the NASA authorization legislation that the Senate Commerce Committee will markup Thursday morning. A quick review of the legislation finds a number of changes from the White House’s proposed budget, some of which have been reported in varying details in recent days.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the legislation’s provisions for the development of a “Space Launch System”, which it defines as “the follow-on government-owned civil launch system developed, managed, and operated by NASA to serve as a key component to expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit.” This system, authorized for $1.9 billion in FY11, $2.65 billion in FY12, and $2.6 billion in FY13, would initially be capable of launching between 70 and 100 tons to low Earth orbit, including the “multipurpose crew vehicle”, which is defined elsewhere in the bill as closely derived from the Orion program. The system would also be required to evolve into heavier variants that could place up to 150 tons into LEO. Both the launcher and the spacecraft “shall, to the extent practicable, utilize existing contracts, investments, workforce, industrial base, and capabilities 2 from the Space Shuttle and former Orion and Ares 1 projects, including Space Shuttle-derived components and Ares 1 components”. The legislation doesn’t set a schedule for the launcher but does state a goal of “full operational capability” for the crew vehicle by the end of 2016.

Commercial crew, another hot topic, is also discussed in the legislation, although the news about the program is not nearly as negative as some might have feared. While the legislation does include, as previously reported, a prohibition on issuing contracts for commercial crew services in FY11, the bill does allow continued funding of commercial crew development (CCDev) activities in FY11, including adding additional participants in the effort. NASA would be allowed to enter into commercial crew transportation contracts in FY12 or later once the agency completes a number of prerequisites ranging from human-rating requirements to a market assessment to the development of “appropriate milestones and minimum performance objectives” for commercial vehicles. This effort would be authorized for $312 million in FY11, $400 million in FY12, and $500 million in FY13. That’s significantly less than what the administration proposed: $500 million in FY11 and $1.4 billion in FY12 and again in FY13.

Other sections of the legislation deal with the retirement of the shuttle, support and utilization of the ISS, and various science, aeronautics, and technology programs. This bill is, overall, a compromise among those who support the administration’s proposals for NASA and those who want to maintain the current program of record. It’s worth noting that the legislation refers to the “former Orion and Ares 1 projects” and, while referring to the ability to “enable missions to the surface of the moon”, does not explicitly call for such missions, instead setting a long-term goal for human space exploration as “the eventual international exploration of Mars”.

92 comments to A quick review of the Senate NASA authorization bill

  • Thanks Jeff, that’s something I hadn’t noticed before.. Congress expects the heavy lift vehicle to carry crew. How many times does CAIB have to be beaten into these people? Don’t they understand that a manned vehicle takes *forever* for NASA to build? Developing an unmanned heavy lift vehicle has been the plan since 2004. What’s gunna happen when NASA has spent years to develop a manned vehicle and then suddenly commercial crew comes online? By law, NASA will be prevented from flying crew on that launcher that they have spent years developing.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    “By law, NASA will be prevented from flying crew on that launcher that they have spent years developing.”

    False, The launcher would then be used for beyond LEO missions as well as a backstop for the commercial space taxi in case it takes longer to build.

  • Mark, if the services are available commercially NASA is prohibited by law from doing it in-house, and that was recently re-enforced in the national space policy.

    Of course, I wouldn’t put it past NASA to claim that they were launching crews beyond LEO, not to LEO and therefore they’re not required to procure commercially. In short, we’ll see what the courts have to say about that.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    The other big news is that the lunar surface is returned to the mix of proposed destinations, explicitly and, with the goal of a “permanent human presence” restored, implicitly. A big rebuke for Obamaspace.

  • Mark, oh really? where does it say that?

    Are you reading commentary somewhere or is this your interpretation?

  • Florida Today comments on the “compromise”:

    http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100714/BREAKINGNEWS/307140004/1086/Our+views++Compromise+space+bill+offers+promise++problems+for+KSC++Brevard

    How sad. What was a bold vision for America’s spacefaring future has been diluted into yet another socialist government jobs program. Hopefully it’s rejected by other committees and by the House.

  • Dennis Berube

    Yes, and it is way past time someone finally went against Obamas space plans. Im glad to see that Orion and Ares 1 are still in a go mode. Paying the Soviets or whoever to taxi us to the ISS is rediculous. Does anyone here actually believe private enterprize will lower ticket prices to space once they get established? Think about it! They are in it for money, profits etc. and their talking 50 mil. for launches too, just what the Russians are charging us. Back in the days of Concorde, the airways were charging in the end 10 thousand a ticket. That automatically put the little man out on the street so to speak. Space will be no different. No cheap ride to orbit. If there is moneyin it, private investors will go that route, if not they will get out. One such company has already filed for bankrupcy. I think we will see more doing the same in the future.

  • Stephen, yeah, it’s really sad. This heavy lift vehicle is likely to be as big a trainwreck as Ares I and Orion could end up being even bigger and fatter than it is already. Think about, what’s gunna happen if there’s another failure there? If the Nelson rocket is canceled in a few years, that money may never go back to NASA.

    Dennis, Ares I is *NOT* back in play. Learn to read.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Trent Waddington,

    Speaking as a non-engineer, it was my understanding that the whole point of using shuttle-derived technology is to short-circuit the whole “human-safe” argument by using components that are already known to be reliable for a crewed spacecraft (SSME, for example). In any case, I understand that there are some disagreements amongst engineers and from supporters of an EELV and EELV-heritage solution about just how extensive “human-rating” needs to be.

    Time will tell whether a commercial crew vehicle is available before the Orion flies on the SLS (Space Launch System – the name that the politicians give the vehicle in question in the bill). In any case, it is my personal hope that, once the commercial option is fully proven, all ISS activities will be progressively transferred to them so NASA can focus on BEO missions.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Using the shuttle derived stuff also saves on termination costs for the previous version of Constellation.

    Trent

    “SEC. 202. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES.
    4 (a) LONG-TERM GOAL.—The long-term goal of the
    5 human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall
    6 be to expand permanent human presence beyond low-
    7 Earth orbit and to do so, where practical, in a manner
    8 involving international partners.”

    Also

    “(2) to determine if humans can live in an ex20
    tended manner in space with decreasing reliance on
    21 Earth, starting with utilization of low-Earth orbit
    22 infrastructure, to identify potential roles that space
    23 resources such as energy and materials may play, to
    24 meet national and global needs and challenges, such
    25 as potential cataclysmic threats, and to explore the
    1 viability of and lay the foundation for sustainable
    2 economic activities in space;”

    Both suggest the Moon as an early goal,but just so NASA understands, the bill later says:

    “(1) The extension of the human presence from
    15 low-Earth orbit to other regions of space beyond
    16 low-Earth orbit will enable missions to the surface of
    17 the moon and missions to deep space destinations
    18 such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars.
    19 (2) The regions of cis-lunar space are accessible
    20 to other national and commercial launch capabilities,
    21 and such access raises a host of national security
    22 concerns and economic implications that inter23
    national human space endeavors can help to address.
    24 (3) The ability to support human missions in
    25 regions beyond low-Earth orbit and on the surface
    1 of the moon can also drive developments in emerging
    2 areas of space infrastructure and technology.”

    A big rebuke for Obamaspace.

  • G Clark

    I’m not too thrilled with the Technology Development lines getting gutted.

  • Colin

    Senator Warner (D, VA) offered an amendment that will be voted on Thursday to this authorization bill restoring full funding to commercial spaceflight. If you have a senator on the Commerce, Science, and Technology committee (and you probably do), call them and support Senator Warner’s amendment and voice your displeasure at the gutting of Technology Development.

    Committee Members:

    http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=CommitteeMembers

    I’m not really sure what the hell Nelson is trying to accomplish with this bill. It’s bad for Florida – almost looks like he’s shooting for a job with ATK when he retires.

  • Warner’s amendment “restoring full funding to commercial spaceflight” seems a bit contradictory. If it were really commercial, it wouldn’t need government money!

  • Dennis Berube

    Trent, it may not be Ares 1 that launches Orion, but at least Orion is on!!! Aries 1 is not dead either. Work still proceeds on. Quite probably the new heavy lift vehicle will follow in the Ares 5 design patterns. All from shuttle derived parts. Watch it happen…… Also with one private enterprize already claiming bankruptcy, more will come. Watch it happen.

  • Dennis Berube

    I live here in VA and Warner should retire. Commercial space endeavors will only hold us in LEO for decades to come. A good point has been made above too. If it is truly commercial, why does government money need be involved? Here at the age of 62, I had hoped to see man walking on Mars, in my lifetime. Now it doesnt even look like I will see man walking again on the Moon, let alone Mars. Why did we let it get away from us. The space station gives us the chance to have a permanent foothold on space, and what do they want to do with that. Let it eventually fall back into Earths atmosphere and burn our money into nothing. Just like the Saturn 5, we should have kept it going. We would already be established on the Moon. Now it is like we are starting over. Paying the Soviets 335 mil. to taxi us to the ISS is totally crazy and a waste of money… Put the money into our own pockets and fly our own spacevehicles…

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 7:33 am

    LOL

    this is the equivelent of Ricky Santorum going out onto the Senate floor and declaring WMD had been found in Iraq after a few shells showed up.

    There is nothing in the language you quoted but boilerplate. It is as inert as the second stage of Ares 1X.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Yes, and it is way past time someone finally went against Obamas space plans. Im glad to see that Orion and Ares 1 are still in a go mode…

    you have dropped the notion that Ares was a cost reduction of shuttle, that was funny in itself, but then you replace it with the above…still funny.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Everyone would do well to hold their water until after the mark-up on Thursday, followed by action in the House to mend the House and Senate bills together.

    Warner’s amendment could easily get erased in a single voice vote in the mark-up.

    Additionally, if the bill’s HLV is deemed by NASA to require 5 seg. SRBs, they just may be test flown on another Ares I-X from that new MLP now sitting at KSC- that’ll make you Ares I phobics heads explote like a muppet, now won’t it?

  • Colin

    Government can be a perfectly legitimate customer for commercial companies. This funding allows NASA to buy rides at fixed prices, rely less on the Russians, and stops the government from competing with industry. Commercial companies have other customers than NASA but the funding in the bill will get NASA away from doing the same damn thing they’ve done since the ’60s and start focusing on exploration.

    NASA can be a customer of commercial companies, but they need money in order to make those purchases. What does not need to happen is what was in the original authorization bill, which is just a continuation of everything we’ve been doing in the past.

  • MrEarl

    Hasn’t anyone been paying attention?
    Congress has bought into the VSE. It’s been supported in legislation by two different congresses (one Republican, one Democrat) and now looks like it still has support in a third.
    Do not confuse the VSE with Constellation, they are two different things.
    What this legislation dose is retain the capabilities that we now have while supporting the emergence of commercial human space flight.
    In the past two months two very well done studies have been released, one by the Space Shuttle Program and the other by Boeing, that detail a very cost effective family of launchers that can be produced with the shuttle stack components both sidemount and in-line. These launchers range in capacities from 18mT to 118mT. Even the Boeing study states, “Both In-line and Sidemount Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle (HLLV) concepts, utilizing Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) and Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) elements, would enable exploration missions that might otherwise be impractical with current launch vehicles.”
    This is a measured approach that looses the excesses of Constellation, encourages the development of commercial crew while retaining present capabilities.
    It’s not perfect for anyone, that’s why it’s called a compromise.

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    I realize that Iraqi WMD’s was the only time in the past 8 years that you actually got something right, (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes), but the analogy is getting old and less ans less relevant every day.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Oler:
    I realize that Iraqi WMD’s was the only time in the past 8 years that you actually got something right,..

    no actually I got almost everything correct about the last Bush administration.

    and I have no problem shoving the WMD example in the face of those who were part of the stupid group of people who advocated based on fear and lies that the US become a rogue nation.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Robert G. Oler

    Dennis Berube wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 9:04 am
    Paying the Soviets 335 mil. to taxi us to the ISS is totally crazy and a waste of money… Put the money into our own pockets and fly our own spacevehicles..

    OK take all the money sent to the Russians (the Soviets are a throwback to old thinking) put it all in one “lock box”…

    now for 300 million do you think you can fly the shuttle? No.

    Falcon9′s with Dragon…yes

    Robert G. Oler

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  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    When you bring out the WMD’s it’s a sure sign that your argument is weak.
    I’d love to play poke with you sometime. I bet you have an obvious “tell”. LOL.
    I’ll bet you a Rib-eye at Truelucks vs a dozen steamed crabs from Obrycki’s that the final appropriation for NASA looks much closer to the Senate legislation referred to by Jeff than the FY’11 budget put out by the WH on Feb 1st.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ Max Peck,

    Additionally, if the bill’s HLV is deemed by NASA to require 5 seg. SRBs, they just may be test flown on another Ares I-X from that new MLP now sitting at KSC- that’ll make you Ares I phobics heads explote like a muppet, now won’t it?

    Um… No, actually it won’t. If they want to waste money on a flight test of the five-seg on an Ares-I-X, that is their problem. So long as they don’t try to fly people on that death-trap, I will be content. That said, it would be cheaper and simpler simply to fly them on the first all-up HLV core flight. There is no real benefit to testing the boosters seperately in a configuration that is radically different from their operational configuration and, consequently, a radically different flight dynamic environment. It would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars that the agency doesn’t have on an unnecessary shot whose only apparent purpose would be to allow Ares-I-huggers to claim that their Stick wasn’t a disastrous money-pit from beginning to end.

    IMHO, the Ares-I MLP should be towed back to the works and refitted to act as the launch platform for the LEO-only version of the HLV. The only real modification required would be to widen the thrust appature and possibly slightly reduce the height of the FSS.

    On the other hand, I think that Ares-I-X, high-thrust but relatively low-frills, is ideal for airborne abort tests of the Orion LAS. I also really think that they need to deliberately blow one of those things up mid-air so we really know about the post-abort crew evacuation environment around an SRM-boosted vehicle. Fly those tests out of Vandenberg to keep them out of the way of the work being done at KSC.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 10:34 am

    everyone who like Whittington (I dont know about you) babbled on about how Saddam had to be taken out because he was going to kill us…says what you do about the WMD…it is like “its not fair to bring up the big thing we got wrong”.

    But then again all the people who supported VSE when Bush the last pushed it out were again “wrong”.

    You wouldnt like to play poker with me. Really, you dont have enough money. I was pretty good before my last stint in the Mideast…then I got way better! Having Marines for partners will do that.

    It all depends on how you define “much closer”. There wont be more then 1 additional shuttle flight (and odds dont favor that), Ares is dead, Orion might hold on as a CRV but the contract will be different…and Heavy lift will look like a Delta on Steroids….and Commercial lift/crew is on its way. Follow the money.

    Bookmark this post. Next year I’ll be reposting it mush as the WMD thing…trust me. LOL

    Robert G. Oler

  • The only excuse this compromise has for the Shuttle-derived rocket is to hedge our bets on commercial craft. Well, those are coming, like it or not, so once they’re available circa 2014 or so these bloated government vehicles will be useless. Just as with Constellation, billions more taxpayer dollars flushed down the toilet to justify socialist government jobs.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Mark R. Whittington wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 6:44 am
    “The other big news is that the lunar surface is returned to the mix of proposed destinations, explicitly and, with the goal of a “permanent human presence” restored, implicitly. A big rebuke for Obamaspace.”

    That’s news to “Obamaspace”.

    “NASA is taking a new approach to this long-term goal; by laying the ground work that will enable humans to safely reach multiple potential destinations, including the Moon, asteroids, Lagrange points, and Mars and its environs.”

    That’s the second sentence in the introduction to Exploration Systems in the FY11 budget proposal from the Administration. Right up at the top. But maybe you don’t read that far in?

    Obama said that returning to the Moon was not as interesting as reaching out to other destinations, but the lunar surface was never off the table. The idea that the lunar surface was explicitly removed from the list of possible destinations by Obama is patently false. No surprise that the draft auth bill includes it. In fact, the draft auth bill says little more about the Moon than the FY11 budget proposal does.

  • Ben Joshua

    Senator Nelson is throwing a “Hail Mary Pass” from behind the scenes with this authorization proposal. If it fails, he still gets some points with the home crowd.

    The appropriations committee will have final say, as always. With senators from Maryland, Ohio and California having a say, with Senator Rockefeller offering an ear to the administration, and with non-space-state’s senators tired of voting a lot more money for a lot more time for a sort-of-maybe-obtainium space program, the authorization sub-committee plan is by no means a done compromise.

    This is the brinksmanship stage of a big showdown between old school, ever more expensive $$ per kg. to orbit (someday), and a long overdue turn to the wisdom of NASA’s charter, calling for active commercialization, bolstered by the success of ULA and the recent Falcon 9 debut.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall when appropriations takes this up. I suspect the FY11 plan will be a large part of the final budget proposal, perhaps with a “kinder, gentler” compromise of a symbolic nature, so Nelson does not go home empty handed. I fear though, for the tech dev and robotics budget, which deserve some real muscle, and have real potential for results.

    Behind the scenes horse trading and power politics is happening as we speak. Which senators have the oomph, and the willingness to use it?

  • mark valah

    What are the chances this bill will pass? What are the chances Obama will veto it? This may be a long tango business.

  • Doug Lassiter

    It’s pretty simple. If Obama sees the compromise this bill ends up presenting as being more digestable than what the appropriators would do without it to guide them, he’ll sign it. It’s a lot easier not having binding auth legislation than it is not having binding approps legislation.

  • Dennis Berube

    Gentilemen with regards to the Ares-1 as still viable, I was just reading yesterday, that they figured out why the chute failed upon its return to a splashdown. They are working to fix it. Now why would they fix it, if another flight was not in the works?????? I understand too, that coming up is the test of the second stage liquid fueled engine sometime this year or early next. Why if these are not to be continued as viable options? Again turning back to the remarks concerning the 335 mil being assigned to the Soviets for a taxi service. The cost comes out to around 50 mil a seat, which is exactly what Space X has already said it wants to eventually charge NASA for rides too. Now does that sound like a deal????? As to the shuttle continuing, I am taking John Glenns idea that we continue with the shuttle until viable transportation of our own can be achieved with our own vehicles. Let us truly hope that Space X and Bigalow will not falter. No one answered on the cost of future spaceflight with regards to the commercial side. Do most of you really believe you will get to fly in space? I pointed out that even when Concorde was flying ten thou a ticket made if very prohibitive for the common man. I suspect space will be the same!

  • Dennis Berube

    On another point, everyone keeps saying NASA has no direction. Why doesnt NASA take the forefront in moving to acquire energy from space? This would be the best possible direction it could go in. While our oceans are being blackened due to oil spill, NASA could be gearing up for an large L5 solar array that could give us all the power we could ever use. We would need a ship like Orion to reach L5, but also once established we could begin getting returns on our money. Even today the energy people seek places to build hydo damns, which is becoming more difficult all the time. Our Sun could supply us with what we need.

  • common sense

    @ Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    “and I have no problem shoving the WMD example in the face of those who were part of the stupid group of people who advocated based on fear and lies that the US become a rogue nation.”

    I am with you on that 100% or even more if it’s possible. Sorry excuses from sorry people will not change the facts despite their best efforts at painting reality with daytime nightmares. At the very least they should have fought the real ennemy…

    Oh well…

  • richardb

    This bill, should it pass the Congress and become law, is a clear rebuke to OSpace. It revives the Shuttle suppliers as well as the contractors involved in Orion and Ares I. It places a larger financial burden on commercial operators such as SpaceX and Orbital as far as any contracts for crew carry. Where OSpace was long on soaring rhetoric and short on hardware to implement it; Congress actually provides the hardware thru the directive to spend $7.1 billion, over 3 years, for the new Space Launch system, largely shuttle and Ares I/V derived. They also provide $4.1 billion over 3 years for “multi-purpose vehicle”, aka Orion.

    I wonder what the pre Obama spending projections where for Ares I and Orion for 2011 – 2013? Probably pretty close to this authorization bill. Now should a bill like this become law, what are the chances Obama will instruct his Nasa Admin to execute it in good faith? Again I’ll asnwer my own question. Probably the chances are low.

  • MrEarl

    CS and Oler:
    So this is purely partisan for you guys. I’ve always suspected that despite your denials.
    If the Bush administration had proposed something like the Obama plan and Obama had proposed the VSE you’d be all for it I presume.

  • Kelly Starks

    >mark valah wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    > What are the chances this bill will pass? ==

    Probably, not bad. It keeps building the vehicles needed for VSE, which Congress liked. It halves the boost dev budget of Constellation and eliminates a lot of the technical risk/complexity/op-costs by eliminating Ares-I (which always was a brain dead obvious solution). Its a minimum impact, minimum risk, “compromise” solution. Though compromise mainly means congress cleans up Constellation, and nods at some of Obama’s ideas.

    > == What are the chances Obama will veto it?

    Low, to very low. He’s burned to many bridges with congress to make a big issue of this, and they could easily bundel it with something he needs/wants bad.

  • Kelly Starks

    > richardb wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    > This bill, should it pass the Congress and become law, is a
    > clear rebuke to OSpace. ==

    Agreed.

    >== should a bill like this become law, what are the chances Obama
    > will instruct his Nasa Admin to execute it in good faith? Again I’ll
    > asnwer my own question. Probably the chances are low.

    Disagree. They are already backing off in the face of congressional outrage on these issues. If congress flat passes a bill (on top of the previous funding one) that orders NASA to do this, and Obama has Bolden use the budget money on tasks explicitly not related to the budget authorizations — that is VERY major breach of Congressional constitutional authority. It virtually eliminate the primary authority/power of Congress. They are NOT going to roll over and allow a precedent like that to go by unchallenged.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    “So this is purely partisan for you guys. I’ve always suspected that despite your denials.
    If the Bush administration had proposed something like the Obama plan and Obama had proposed the VSE you’d be all for it I presume.”

    In my case you’re mixing up stuff. I said before and will say it again. The VSE was a dramatic and needed change for NASA. The one thing, essentailly, I did not agree with was the ridiculous timeline. The new plan is very much like the VSE without the timeline. Gingrich et al. agree with us it seems, hardly a partisan position is it? Constellation is a disaster. I already commented on that.

    The WMD issues are worth repeating until chaos comes. Sorry. It is a very sad moment for our country when lies were made to invade another country. I’ll stop here if you don’t mind so that we don’t go again off topic.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    CS and Oler:
    So this is purely partisan for you guys. …

    the desire to shove the face of those who were for going into Iraq into the mud of history is not partisanship it is simply oposing what was wrong, is wrong, and will forever remain wrong. Those who supported going into iraq should hide their head in shame. they were wrong about everything, they sat by chanting “stay the course” as 4000 Americans and a little over 200000 or so Iraqis were killed and for no valid reason.

    Worse these are generally the same people who thought Bush and Griffin were going to do something good with their new policy.

    “If the Bush administration had proposed something like the Obama plan and Obama had proposed the VSE you’d be all for it I presume.”

    Yes.

    I am on record with this. An Article in The Weekly STandard that I wrote, Rich Kolker edited and Mark Whittington asked to have his name attached to (and took part of the payment for) more or less lays out the foundation of what has become the Obama policy. There are some differences but they are minor…so when Whittington babbles on about supporting Constellation or a return to the Moon as a government enterprise, well he is just being partisan supporting Bush.

    The problem with a lot of people on the GOP right is that they cannot understand 1) why Bush failed and 2) why Obama was elected.

    I dont think Obama is doing all that good a job. I am on record several places (you can go on our facebook page, it is “open”) as being very critical of the vast majority of his Presidency. But, had he spent more of the stimulus bill in line with policies like his space policy. …in my view we would be a LOT better off.

    But as for Iraq…the fact that we got scared after 9/11 and followed a person who lied exaggerated and then was incompetent…should make us all sad…and those who were his biggest cheerleaders…in the dust bin of history.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Now should a bill like this become law, what are the chances Obama will instruct his Nasa Admin to execute it in good faith? Again I’ll asnwer my own question. Probably the chances are low.”

    I’ll give you a better answer. The chance that NASA will execute what is authorized is whether the appropriators fund what is authorized. It has nothing to do with what Obama “instructs” the agency to do. The agency works for Congress. Obama just proposed to Congress what the agency could do.

    The agency is NOT obligated to use budget money on tasks explicitly related to authorization. That’s just false. They’re obligated to use it on what it’s appropriated for. Certainly as laid out in the approps bill language, but to a large extent also in the more detailed report language that goes with it. In fact, the last authorization bill mandated “long-term exploration-related technology research and development, including such things as in-space propulsion, power systems, life support, and advanced avionics, that is not tied to specific flight projects”. Ya think NASA did that?

    Furthermore, ya think the appropriators are bound by constitutional authority to fund what has been authorized? Unfortunately, they aren’t. The FY08 authorization bill, as passed by Congress and signed by the President into public law authorized a NASA budget of $20.2B. The appropriators gave NASA $17.8B.

  • It is a very sad moment for our country when lies were made to invade another country. I’ll stop here if you don’t mind so that we don’t go again off topic that if anyone rebuts the lie that “lies were made to invade another country,” I can accuse them of going off topic.

    FIFY

  • It’s very unlikely Obama will veto whatever sausage comes out of this grinder. NASA and thousands of other agencies are all lumped into one giant bill, to keep a President from doing just that.

  • Ben Joshua

    This authorization bill provides a spine tingling moment in the drama of NASA’s and HSF’s future direction.

    It is Senator Nelson’s foot in the door for final behind the scenes negotiations.

    Authorizing bills, however, are peculiarities of congressional procedure and rules. They are used for posturing and negotiating.

    Actual decisionmaking takes place in the appropriations process. Keep an eye on that, to catch an indication of how NASA will proceed.

    The main event awaits…

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    WMD, Iraq, ect really has no relevance in space policy currently being debated.
    So as I understand you, If the Obama WH had proposed the VSE you would support it.

  • NASA and thousands of other agencies are all lumped into one giant bill, to keep a President from doing just that.

    No, that’s appropriations. This is an authorization bill. It will be stand alone. Which is why it’s not likely to even pass.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Authorizing bills, however, are peculiarities of congressional procedure and rules. They are used for posturing and negotiating.”

    No, that’s simplistic. No more for posturing and negotiating than appropriations bills. It’s amusing how little understanding there is about this legislation among space enthusiasts.

    What authorizing bills are for is to establish the long-term outlook for Congress. It’s about where Congress really wants to get to in the long run. An appropriation bill doesn’t do that. It specifies expenditures for one year, and vaguely points to runout numbers a few years beyond that. An NASA authorization bill is about long term policy, and is to its appropriation counterpart bill as a “vision for space exploration” is to a FY budget proposal for NASA. Now, an authorizing bill doesn’t provide money, and sometimes people tend to be dismissive of it for that reason. But it provides rationale which, in the longer term, is what is used to defend expenditures of that money.

    An appropriations bill may precisely reflect the extant authorization bill, because sometimes where you really want to get to requires that you go somewhere else first.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Excuse me, I meant

    An appropriations bill may NOT precisely reflect the extant authorization bill, because sometimes where you really want to get to requires that you go somewhere else first.

  • Fred Cink

    “lies were made to invade another country” It’s obvious that SOME of the voices here are fixated on spending their self acclaimed (but questionable) mental prowess and precious resources (and this forum’s space) discussing the Tonkin Gulf Incident and the resultant “Resolution” (or was it those dastardly Spanish-incited revolutionary zealots in Cuba who blew up the USS Maine.) How ’bout you drop the constant bickering BS and discuss ways to get off this rock as opposed to the oh-so-intellegent and adult minded themes of “IT’S BUSH’S FAULT” vs “OBAMA SUCKS.”

  • richardb

    Doug, said “I’ll give you a better answer. The chance that NASA will execute what is authorized is whether the appropriators fund what is authorized. It has nothing to do with what Obama “instructs” the agency to do. The agency works for Congress. Obama just proposed to Congress what the agency could do. ”

    I do understand that this bill is part 1 of 2 with the appropriations being the 2ed part which might not happen before Congress leaves for the campaign. That is why I said if the bill becomes law, perhaps I wasn’t clear on that. In any event Obama has already circumvented Congressional intent by his shut down of Constellation by using little used laws enabling Nasa to hold back funds to cover termination costs. I don’t put it past him.

    Let me give you a scenario. Bolden having tire tracks on his backs from the Obama express does the resigns to spend more time with his family routine. Obama dithers for months on appointing a replacement and slow rolls Nasa’s rollout of a Space Launch vehicle design. That design could go into FY2012 with lots of unspent funds. In fact with RFI’s and RFP’s, he could conceivably spend all of FY2011 on paper studies.

  • Coastal Ron

    Dennis Berube wrote a lot of things:

    Does anyone here actually believe private enterprize will lower ticket prices to space once they get established?

    The answer is yes, and one only has to look at what the Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture called United Launch Alliance (ULA) has offered. They are offering Delta IV Heavy launches for $300M/flight, which could put Orion (or up to 50,000 of anything) into LEO. They have also offered Atlas V for commercial launches (their CST-100 or ???) for $130M/flight.

    They are in it for money, profits etc.

    When I hear this line of reasoning, I wonder what kind of country you want us to be – Capitalist or Socialist?

    When you fly off on vacation, do you use a government provided airplane, or a commercial one? On a commercial one, are you afraid they are less safe than a government-provided one would be? Who has more motivation to not kill their customers? Commercial companies will not survive if they do not treat their customers right, and that includes not killing them. This is a silly argument for you to make…

    Commercial space endeavors will only hold us in LEO for decades to come.

    How will making it quicker and cheaper for NASA to get to LEO “hold us in LEO for decades”? Before NASA could put the Orion into LEO, they had to build a launcher (Ares I). If they had used Delta IV Heavy instead, which is an existing, safe and cheaper launcher, we would be launching Orion this year, and we would have saved $10B. That $10B could have gone towards getting us closer to the Moon than Constellation ever has.

    The space station gives us the chance to have a permanent foothold on space, and what do they want to do with that. Let it eventually fall back into Earths atmosphere and burn our money into nothing.

    Stay up with the issues here Dennis – the OLD NASA budget was going to splash the ISS, the NEW NASA budget keeps it. Constellation was the reason we could not afford the ISS & Shuttle, or much of anything else NASA wanted to do but did not have money to do because of the cost overruns on Ares I, Orion and everything else Constellation.

  • common sense

    @ Fred Cink wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for moderating the forum. We clearly need clear thinkers like you.

  • DCSCA

    Kelly Starks wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 1:54 pm <– Yep. This administration has already played its space hand and moved on. How the cards get shuffled by Congress is far down their list of priorities when it comes to the space program. This president likes meeting in the middle. For this cycle, they'll crow over the art of the compromise, the jobs saved/created and press on to more immediate problems.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Sorry to bring this up so late, but I read right over this without thinking much about it. In the long term, this may be a profoundly important part of the bill.

    “SEC. 204. INDEPENDENT STUDY ON HUMAN EXPLORATION OF SPACE.

    (a) IN GENERAL.—In fiscal year 2012 the Administrator shall contract with the National Academies for a review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight, using the goals set forth in the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2008, the goals set forth in this Act, and goals set forth in any existing statement of space policy issued by the President.

    (b) ELEMENTS.—The review shall include—(1) a broad spectrum of participation with representatives of a range of disciplines, backgrounds, and generations, including civil, commercial, international, scientific, and national security interests; (2) input from NASA’s international partner
    discussions and NASA’s Human Exploration Framework Team; (3) an examination of the relationship of national goals to foundational capabilities, robotic activities, technologies, and missions authorized by this Act; (4) a review and prioritization of scientific, engineering, economic, and social science questions to be addressed by human space exploration to improve the overall human condition; and (5) findings and recommendations for fiscal years 2014 through 2023.”

    As in, let’s decide why the hell we’re really doing this. There is no shortage of opinion here about why we should be doing it. But what national policy foundation is it all based on? Remember that the Space Act doesn’t explicitly include a provision for human space flight.

    The Augustine Committee was never really asked to consider this, but having a similarly astute team chew on the question (and a team that could be considered wholly independent of the Administration and Congress) would be fascinating. This report could end up being much more influential than even the Augustine report has been.

    If nothing else comes out of this bill, I’d sure like it to be this.

  • DCSCA

    “When I hear this line of reasoning, I wonder what kind of country you want us to be – Capitalist or Socialist?”

    It is both- and neither. It’s not a matter of either/or absolutes.

    It is fair to say that some current private space enterprises show promise — but the kind of massive capital investments ‘free enterprise’ private space ventures demand remain difficult to generate. Been that way for 40 years and won’t be getting any easier in this age of austerity. For the very ‘free market’ they’re trying to peddle their goods and services to is limited by the demand for those services coupled with a high risk venture and uncertain return to investors. And given the largess of capital needed for operating private space ventures and the demands of ‘capitalism’ – in that investors expect a profitable return in their investment, usually on a quarterly basis – they can get better returns investing in offshore oil drilling than something more risky– like space ventures. Which is why private rocketeers cut the chatter and best get flying to prove themselves.

    Bear in mind that over the 80-plus year history of rocketry, in various political guises around the world, it was chiefly big government rocket development programs that funded and moved the technology forward, not the private sector. Private enterprise was the follow along, cashing in where it could. It has never led in this field –(but you can revel in how private enterprise pretended it could watching Destination Moon, in Technicolor.)

  • Fred Cink

    I would agree that “big government” has driven rocket development starting in the early 40s when Nazi Germany tapped Von Braun et al. When asked where their ideas/approaches/solutions came from, they answered “the U. S. Patent Office” The vast majority of all rocket technology (and associated patents) up to that time can be credited to Robert H. Goddard. It sure is nice to have those kind of shoulders on which to stand.

  • Ben Joshua

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    “What authorizing bills are for is to establish the long-term outlook for Congress. It’s about where Congress really wants to get to in the long run.”

    Since the Appropriations Committee decides the actual budget proposal, time will tell which of our views of the authorization process is closer to a civics trextbook, and which is closer to what takes place behind closed doors.

    I believe the appropriations members and the senators from states that host primarily non-HSF NASA centers will have something to say about Congress’s long term outlook for NASA.

    By the way, nice to see you are amused by my view of things (“lack of understanding”). No sarcasm intended, I hope you are truly enjoying the discussion.

    Anyway, the final outcome of the NASA FY11 process may teach both of us a thing or two. I hope we are both open enough to learn from the little surprises that are sure to emerge.

  • Doug Lassiter

    “Since the Appropriations Committee decides the actual budget proposal, time will tell which of our views of the authorization process is closer to a civics trextbook, and which is closer to what takes place behind closed doors.”

    They decide the budget (not the proposal) for *one year*. You seem to think that one year corresponds to long term outlook. It doesn’t.

    Sure, long term outlook can be pushed by short term expenditures, but that’s not policy, it’s largely pork. One influential legislator dies or is pushed out of office, and the balance quickly shifts. For a two or three year auth bill it doesn’t.

    I’m amused by a lot of things. But discussion here is often insightful and thoughtful. Irrespective of the views expressed. Some people take the trouble to make it that way, and others don’t.

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Oler:
    WMD, Iraq, ect really has no relevance in space policy currently being debated.
    So as I understand you, If the Obama WH had proposed the VSE you would support it….

    the devil is in the details.

    Lets say that somehow NASA had under Griffin cobbled up some program that was “on time and nearly on budget” and got us back to the Moon in say oh 2017 or such.

    And they managed to find water and then do some in suiti resource work to make some O and H from some of the water there.

    What next?

    NASA and HSF policy are full of things that NASA has done (reusability, a space station etc) that are all fine and good until it comes to actually doing something with them. In the end with the O and the H what would happen is that everyone would say “wow that was great” and then the realization would set in that the O and H are 10 or 20 or something times more expensive then the O and H brought from the Earth and in to small quantities to be useful…and then the next realization would be that to get them in large enough quanities to be useful would take far more money and ….

    what next?

    It does no good for government lead projects to demonstrate things that are so far outside the scope of even government operations in terms of cost…that they are unaffordable.

    There is a reason the military bailed out of the space shuttle.

    To the larger question. I am “non partisan” in terms of human spaceflight. I really dont care who proposes what, if it doesnt create a private space industry; it is a waste of money.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Bear in mind that over the 80-plus year history of rocketry

    The difference here is that you look at the past for guidance, and I look at it for lessons.

    It is fair to say that some current private space enterprises show promise — but the kind of massive capital investments ‘free enterprise’ private space ventures demand remain difficult to generate.

    I’m a spreadsheet kind of guy, so let’s look at the numbers to get one launch of a crew capsule:

    Development
    Orion/Ares I – Still need $4B + at least $20B for Ares I development. $24B for the first crew flight on an unproven launcher (no launch heritage).

    Commercial Crew – ULA says that it would take $1.3B to man-rate Delta IV Heavy (already flown 3 times + 10 single-core versions) and $400M for Atlas V (flown 21 times). Let’s say $1B for SpaceX to man-rate Falcon 9 /Dragon (10+ flights before crew). All of that equals $2.7B to get 3 launchers man-rated, and all will have flown many times beforehand to demonstrate their safety & reliability.

    Launch Costs
    Orion/Ares I would cost $1B/flight, and let’s be generous and say that’s Orion Lite and they can carry 6 people total.

    Commercial Crew – ULA has said they would charge $300M/flight for Delta IV Heavy and $130M/flight for Atlas V. SpaceX has said they they will charge $20M/seat. Adding up the costs of each of these, and assuming Orion-Lite for the Delta IV Heavy and CST-100 for the Atlas V, that would be $570M to put 20 people total into LEO. I’m missing CST-100 & Orion capsule costs, but they won’t be in the $B’s.

    Summary

    With commercial crew, you get at least three different launch vehicles for a price far less than finishing the Orion-Lite capsule, and for the same $1B that you would have spent on Ares I to get 6 people into LEO, commercial crew would get 35 people to LEO and save you $20B.

    Orion/Ares I only gives you one launcher, using an unproven launcher (and unproven SRB crew system) duplicating existing commercial alternatives.

    Ares I is the one that requires “massive capital investments”. NASA would be paying commercial providers seed money to lower the costs far below what NASA would be able to do. That sounds like a great investment opportunity for the American Taxpayer!

  • Robert G. Oler

    MrEarl wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    to add one more thing.

    If Person A is advocating a policy, it is fair to point out that their history of advocacy is either strong or weak. So for instance, when I was a minor political figure in Clear Lake…I had consistently made predictions and recommended policies that failed, then when I came up with another policy or recommendation; it is fair to point out a track record.

    Almost everyone who made claims about VSE was completely wrong about those claims. They are generally the ones advocating at the top of their lungs (or keys) that the program of record continue.

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 6:26 pm <- =yawn=

    Past is prologue. Nothing is preventing the private sector from soaring to the stars and conquering the cosmos but the very down-to-earth realities and bottom line demands of the very 'free market' it is trying to service with its product. If you're a 'spreadsheet kind of guy' and you want to use 'capitalism' to fuel your rockets, you're going to be moving at the speed and parameters that 'free market' dictates –supply-and-demand-type-stuff. That's why the government has moved rocketry forward for 80 years, not private enterprise. So raise capital, get flying and turn a profit for your investors, if you can. You really should view Destination Moon– (the film was quite profitable- Luna's voyage, not so much, until they added the discovery of uranium toward the end ;-) ). Entetainment elements aside from the period, it might be an education for you.

  • DCSCA

    “To the larger question. I am “non partisan” in terms of human spaceflight. I really dont care who proposes what, if it doesnt create a private space industry; it is a waste of money.” <- Nonsense, as usual.

  • DCSCA

    Fred Cink wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 5:32 pm <– Nobody disputes that. The fellow who invented the wheel earned eternal praise – and little else. Too bad the U.S. patent office wasn't around for him to file. ;-)

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    with all those people interested in space because of Trek movies…

    actually the notions you expresss are wrong.

    Free Enterprise does work…go check out the difference between Syncom and the latest DirecTV satellite…the trick is that government does not compete in a free enterprise field.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Rhyolite

    “They are in it for money, profits etc.”

    This a canard (and I don’t mean the aeronautical type).

    ATK, Lockheed, Boeing and the other Constellation contractors are just as in it for profit as Lockheed, Boeing, Orbital and SpaceX (notice the overlap?) would be for commercial crew services.

    The difference is that the Constellation contractors are guaranteed a profit under cost plus contracting regardless of whether they ever deliver a working system. In fact they make more money if the cost spiral and the schedule slides. That’s called perverse incentives.

    The commercial crew providers only make a profit if they deliver services. If there is competition, they only keep their contracts if they continue to perform safely and they control their costs. The incentives for commercial contracting are more in line with the tax payers than the cost plus contracting. Over the long run this makes a huge difference.

  • Justin Kugler

    Doug,
    I agree that part is very interesting. It’s being reported as just another study, but it looks a heck of a lot like creating something like the Decadal Survey for human space flight. We need a system like that to bridge the technical and policy worlds.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    That’s why the government has moved rocketry forward for 80 years, not private enterprise.

    Oh to be so young and innocent again – not to mention ignorant.

    You seem oblivious to all the companies that NASA relies on to get things done. Does NASA process the Shuttle? No, a contractor called United Space Alliance does. Did NASA design and build the Shuttle? No, Rockwell International did. Does NASA launch it’s own satellites? No, United Launch Alliance does.

    NASA has plenty of brains, and generates lots of knowledge that they pass onto American companies, but NASA’s core strength is not in building complex vehicles or running transportation systems. So why do you want them to do that? Weird.

    I see you haven’t been able to refute the numbers I used to show that by using commercial companies, NASA could have three different commercial crew systems for the price of just finishing the Orion capsule. And that would save $20B in not having to develop Ares I any longer. Apparently you don’t care about deficits?

    Nor can you dispute that commercial companies can provide reliable transportation for a price that the government could never match.

    So again, you use the past to justify why things will never be done, and I (and others) use it to learn from.

  • DCSCA

    @CoastalRon- Oh to be so young and innocent again – not to mention ignorant. <- Don't be so hard on yourself. Ronnie. Past is prologue and wise minds learn from it. This seems to be an obstacle for you to overcome. So we'll repeat the lesson: Nothing is preventing the private sector from soaring to the stars and conquering the cosmos but the very down-to-earth realities and bottom line demands of the very 'free market' it is trying to service with its product.

    Go for it. Get flying. If you're a 'spreadsheet kind of guy' (bear in mind that in 'capitalism', investors are aware liars can figure and figures can lie) and you want to use your 'capitalism' to fuel your rockets, you're going to be operating within the parameters that 'free market' dictates That's why the government has moved rocketry forward for 80 years, not private enterprise. The private sector has been unable to raise enough capital investment for a high risk venture for a limited market with a questionable return on that investment. That business environment has varied little over a century. But feel free to try to shift that paradigm. So quit making excuses, get cracking, raise capital, get flying and turn a profit for your investors, if you can. This writer is looking forward to Elon Musk waving to the crowds boarding the first commercially operational Dragon spacecraft and flying it to orbit and returning safely to Earth. Should be a good show and do a great deal to bolster the confidence of investors. In the meantime, view Destination Moon to see how deep pocketed capitalists 'imagined' it would be done. You might learn something..

  • DCSCA

    @coastalRon “Apparently you don’t care about deficits?”

    “Deficits dont matter.” – Dick Cheney.

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 8:53 pm <- Nonsense, as usual.

  • Robert G. Oler

    DCSCA wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    “Deficits dont matter.” – Dick Cheney….

    more words of wisdom from someone who has not gotten anything correct in a few decades…

    hope he is enjoying Government health care

    Robert G. Oler

  • DCSCA

    Robert G. Oler wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 11:40 pm <– LOL yeah, re. gov't healthcare– on this we can agree.

  • Coastal Ron

    DCSCA wrote @ July 14th, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Nothing is preventing the private sector from soaring to the stars and conquering the cosmos but the very down-to-earth realities and bottom line demands of the very ‘free market’ it is trying to service with its product.

    The private sector is doing their part to expand our knowledge and capabilities, but you have the issue backwards.

    The whole point of creating a commercial crew market is to save the government (i.e. us taxpayers) money. The commercial market can do the routine work for NASA at a much lower cost, and with this extra money, NASA can afford to do a lot more, a lot quicker.

    I know this is a hard concept for you to understand, so I typed it slowly… ;-)

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It looks like the White House is going to throw in the towel and agree to the Senate language. All the folks in the Internet Rocketeer Club who supported Obamaspace get thrown under the bus, but everyone gets to have a little something. Nelson and Hutchison now look like political geniuses.

  • DCSCA

    Coastal Ron wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    “The whole point of creating a commercial crew market is to save the government (i.e. us taxpayers) money.”

    =blink= No, Ron, you have the ‘issue’ backwards and it appears you’re going to have a steep learning curve. You best learn something about marketing goods and services in the private sector and the profit motive that fuels free market capitalism. It certainly isn’t “to save the government money.”

  • MrEarl

    Oler:
    The WH is about to throw in the towel.
    What time are the reservations at Trulucks this Saturday? :-)

  • richardb

    While its a little early to remind some who frequently comment here that their zeal for OSpace was naive and simplistic, so I won’t do that yet. Even Obama to my surprise seems to be caving with alacrity to the bipartisan repudiation of Ospace coming out of the Senate. That’s politics though, when you can’t beat em, join em. I have doubts that Obama will embrace this compromise in good faith but still the continuation of Constellation under a new name looks to be a fact.

    Now when will Bolden resign? I think that is in the cards very soon.
    Obama has contradicted him this week on his silly statements about Islam. He couldn’t present a coherent defense of Ospace anytime he tried over the last 6 months. He was prone to gaffe’s before his Al-jazzera remarks. The man has to go. Lori Garver on deck?

  • MrEarl

    Oler, CS, Tommy and Bennett have been strangely quite today. :-)

    Since the WH seems to be accepting the compromise, it’s important to see that Bolden remains the administrator. He is much more likely carry out the will of congress set down in the compromise. Garver is the one most likely to “go rouge” and try to stall implementation.

  • While its a little early to remind some who frequently comment here that their zeal for OSpace was naive and simplistic

    It will always be too early for that. It’s kind of dumb to “remind” someone of something that was never true.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 11:34 am

    “Oler, CS, Tommy and Bennett have been strangely quite today. ”

    Let’s see how the day unfolds… It’d be surprising they take whatever I’ve read so far anyway and pretty much wipe out their original plan. Then again. Politics… You never know I guess.

  • Bennett

    As Clark notes on his website, there are things to like about the “current” state of this bill, even though “A new heavy lifter is an staggering waste of money and hits the agency with a huge opportunity cost by using up most of the money intended for development of crucial in-space transportation and infrastructure technologies.”.

    Constellation is officially dead. Commercial Space is funded and once the shuttle flies its final mission, NASA will turn to them for manned launches.

    There will be some changes before this ends up on the President’s desk, but overall it’s better than what we had 2 years ago.

  • MrEarl

    Has STS135 been funded with this bill?

  • richardb

    See Simberg the reason your contributions are worth nothing is you hurl insults when you disagree with someone’s posts. Fact is you’ve been wrong about much of OSpace. We all know it.

    Shuttle survives for another year or more. As I said it would a couple months ago.
    Constellation is funded generously, true the names change but the program survives intact. As I said it would a couple months ago.

    OSpace is not dead, but its on life support. So I’m wrong there.

    Nobody paid any attention to your Instapundit petition either.

  • Constellation is funded generously, true the names change but the program survives intact. As I said it would a couple months ago.

    You are delusional.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 1:31 am

    > The whole point of creating a commercial crew market is
    > to save the government (i.e. us taxpayers) money. The commercial
    > market can do the routine work for NASA at a much lower cost,
    > and with this extra money, NASA can afford to do a lot more, a lot quicker.

    This is of course a nonsensical statement.

    First – The same gov. incentives to bloat costs with the NASA contracted launches like shuttle, will still be there for Commercial crew or anything else NASA does.

    Second – (and one of the reasons for the first point) assuming it did lower NASA costs – NASA would just lose that money back to the treasury, and the budget would be reduced proportionately. NASA doesn’t get a bag of money. They get approval for programs. If the programs cost less, their budget is reduced – and the political interest in the program is reduced.

  • Kelly Starks

    > richardb wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 11:25 am

    > While its a little early to remind some who frequently comment
    > here that their zeal for OSpace was naive and simplistic, ==

    Seemed more like wish fofilment. Assume for the first time Obama really is going to do what you want, not what he’s always wanted.

    >== Even Obama to my surprise seems to be caving with alacrity to
    > the bipartisan repudiation of Ospace coming out of the Senate.
    > That’s politics though, when you can’t beat em, join em.

    This is what really is confusing me. Up until now he’s railroaded though everything he’s wanted – regardless of it being political suicide for the Senate and congress — and congress rolled over. But for this one he just dropped it out, largely ignored, now its reversed by congress. Normally, this would not be surprising for a congress — but this congress..?.

    > == Now when will Bolden resign? I think that is in the cards very soon.
    > Obama has contradicted him this week on his silly statements about
    > Islam. He couldn’t present a coherent defense of Ospace anytime he
    > tried over the last 6 months. He was prone to gaffe’s before his Al-jazzera
    > remarks. The man has to go. Lori Garver on deck?

    You forget Bolden been a good solder and done and said whatever Obama wanted from the Al-Jereeza statement, to his supporting Obama’s destructive ideas.

    Certainly few others would want the job, and Congress would not want Garver.

  • Coastal Ron

    Kelly Starks wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    First – The same gov. incentives to bloat costs with the NASA contracted launches like shuttle, will still be there for Commercial crew or anything else NASA does.

    Uh, no. The Shuttle is a government run transportation system, and uses contractors like USA to help run the government transportation system. If NASA launches a Shuttle, or doesn’t launch the Shuttle, USA gets paid for being there.

    Commercial crew services would be contracted for a service. They get paid for delivering crew to their destination. If they don’t deliver, they don’t get paid. If they don’t have any customers, they don’t get paid. Do you see the difference here?

    Second – (and one of the reasons for the first point) assuming it did lower NASA costs – NASA would just lose that money back to the treasury, and the budget would be reduced proportionately. NASA doesn’t get a bag of money. They get approval for programs.

    Hmm, yes, I’m sure your way is better for the American Taxpayer – keep the costs artificially high, and don’t allow anyone to do something less expensively… NOT!

    But wait, maybe there is a different possible outcome! NASA’s budget total has stayed relatively flat over time, even with the coming and goings of major programs. Congress seems fine with this, so if NASA were to save money in one area (say transportation to LEO), then Congress would naturally redistribute the available funds to other NASA programs.

    If you watch the way that Congress does the NASA budget, you’ll see that they take a set amount of money today, and squish it around across the different programs, but stay within the overall budget outlines. Nothing stays the same from year to year, so if they could reduce their transportation costs to LEO by half, that money would not be deducted from their future budgets.

  • Kelly Starks

    > Coastal Ron wrote @ July 16th, 2010 at 2:17 am

    >> Kelly Starks wrote @ July 15th, 2010 at 7:12 pm
    >>“First – The same gov. incentives to bloat costs with the
    >> NASA contracted launches like shuttle, will still be there
    >> for Commercial crew or anything else NASA does.”

    > Uh, no. The Shuttle is a government run transportation system,
    > and uses contractors like USA to help run the government
    > transportation system. If NASA launches a Shuttle, or doesn’t
    > launch the Shuttle, USA gets paid for being there.

    Uh, yeah – NASA’s Commercial Crew program staff will stay there in between flights and for several years before there are flights. They will load the costs with all the oversight costs, the KSC support costs, etc.

    Little of the shuttle launch costs involved costs of launching the shuttles – they involved program overhead already starting under Obama’s proposal. They added on top of the COTS costs. This isn’t like NASA going to send folks to a Boeing launch center and by a ticket.

    >> “Second – (and one of the reasons for the first point) assuming
    >> it did lower NASA costs – NASA would just lose that money back
    >> to the treasury, and the budget would be reduced proportionately.
    >> NASA doesn’t get a bag of money. They get approval for programs.”

    >== NASA’s budget total has stayed relatively flat over time, even
    > with the coming and goings of major programs. Congress seems
    > fine with this, so if NASA were to save money in one area (say
    > transportation to LEO), then Congress would naturally redistribute
    > the available funds to other NASA programs.

    Never what they did before. When space station Freedom was canceled all the money went to other projects – frequently in the same districts (I remember Florida got money for a big parking structure in Miami). Actually I don’t think any agency gets to keep on their budget “savings”.
    Worse, if the programs cost a lot less, there’s less political benifit to having them at all.

  • Francis Louis Charbonneau Jr

    The only part of the compromise which is quite acceptable in my opinion that the situation with the current head of NASA has not been discussed. I think that he ought to go to work for Al Jazeera and leave the space program to people who have the abilities and the mental faculties to work on it. I am sure that many of my esteemed colleagues who have written above would agree. Bolden needs to find a new job at Al Jazeera and to stop his “feel good” mission for NASA to help the Muslims feel better about themselves. If he needs to practice pop-psychology he had better go to the Mosque to learn their philosophies.

  • Kelly Starks

    >== Bolden needs to find a new job at Al Jazeera and to stop his
    > “feel good” mission for NASA to help the Muslims feel better about
    > themselves. ==

    Its stupid – but its what Obama ordered.

    Oh joy.

    :(

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