Space News has some updates on the latest perspectives on heavy-lift development. In one, administration officials are “pushing back” on development of the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket included in last year’s authorization act. OSTP director John Holdren told Space News said that delays in getting a final FY11 budget mean that it would be effectively impossible for NASA to spend the full amount authorized in FY12 for SLS, $2.65 billion, even if appropriated. “There is, I think, a real question as to whether it can be done in the time that the Congress would like, but in the end it’s difficult to legislate scientific and engineering reality,” he said. Meanwhile, in a House hearing yesterday, members pressed NASA to press ahead with SLS. Referring to the language in the authorization act, science committee chairman Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) said, “The administration needs to acknowledge this and act accordingly.”
Speaking of SLS and ongoing Congressional budget debates, the Space Frontier Foundation warns, “It’s Silly Season Again!”. It contrasts the full-year House CR, HR 1, with a Senate version that, as previously noted, appeared to mandate NASA move ahead immediately with a 130-ton SLS and not a 70-to-100-ton initial version included in the authorization act. “[S]ome in Congress want to make NASA build their favorite rocket, without competition, even though NASA has already told them it can’t be done for the resources available on anything like the timetable Congress wants,” the Foundation states in their release, asking people to contact their Congressional representatives and ask that any SLS development be competed openly. “It’s time to stop the Congress from mandating the Senate Launch System, and let NASA compete ideas for one (or more) Space Launch System(s).” [emphasis in original]
Bart Gordon, the former chairman of the House Science Committee who retired last year, has a new position: partner in the public policy and law practice of K&L Gates in Washington. Gordon’s areas of work will include “innovation and technology-related issues”, according to the release, although aerospace is not explicitly mentioned.