Congress, NASA

NASA: $18.5 billion in full-year CR

NASA would get just under $18.5 billion for 2011 in the final continuing resolution (CR) for the fiscal year released late Monday night by the House, containing just under $18.5 billion for NASA. A summary table of the bill versus 2010 and the 2011 president’s budget request (PBR) is below:

Account 2010 Actual 2011 PBR 2011 Final CR Diff from 2010 Diff from PBR
Space Operations $6,146.8 $4,887.8 $5,508.5 $(638.3) $620.7
Exploration $3,746.3 $4,263.4 $3,808.3 $62.0 $(455.1)
Science $4,469.0 $5,005.6 $4,945.3 $476.3 $(60.3)
Aeronautics $501.0 $1,151.8 $535.0 $34.0 $(616.8)
Education $182.5 $145.8 $145.8 $(36.7) $-
Construction $448.3 $397.3 $394.3 $(54.0) $(3.0)
Cross-Agency Support $3,194.0 $3,111.4 $3,111.4 $(82.6) $-
Inspector General $36.4 $37.0 $36.4 $- $(0.6)
TOTAL $18,724.3 $19,000.1 $18,485.0 $(239.3) $(515.1)

The biggest cuts are in exploration and in aeronautics, the latter reflecting the lack of funding for the new space technology program in the original 2011 request. (NASA administrator Charles Bolden said last month that NASA would find ways to fund space technology efforts elsewhere in the agency.) In exploration, the CR directs NASA to spend at least $1.2 billion on the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and $1.8 billion on the Space Launch System “which shall have a lift capability not less than 130 tons and which shall have an upper stage and other core elements developed simultaneously.” That seems contrary to statements by Bolden as recently as yesterday that the SLS would be evolvable and not immediately be able to lift 130 tons (metric or otherwise) into low Earth orbit.

Other policy provisions:

  • The so-called “Shelby provision” from the 2010 appropriations act that prevents NASA from terminating Constellation programs is formally, finally removed.
  • The CR contains a provision like that in HR 1, the House funding bill from February, that prevents NASA and OSTP from using any of the funds in the CR for bilateral programs with China or hosting Chinese visitors at NASA facilities.

116 comments to NASA: $18.5 billion in full-year CR

  • Jo Tan

    Thanks for the update. Any info on CCDev2 funding?

  • SpaceColonizer

    First of all, wow Jeff, bravo for being up so early.

    Secondly, I can’t believe I’m up so late!

    Third… WTF!!! This is a train wreck. I’m not complaining about the $ amount, but now they’ve respelled the language (although I heard mention of this strategy before) to require a 130ton non-evolved launch vehicle. And they want THAT by 2016!? Wow… WoW… WOW!!!

    Well I guess Bolden’s got to form his answer to what this does to the FY12 budget and all his plans. My guess… it throws a pretty huge fucking wrench into it. He can’t even really announce his plan for the plan for the SLS this week anymore. His plan for the plan was going to be for a 70tn that would evolve to be a 130tn. Now he has to plan for a 130tn straight up? Again…. they want THIS by 2016? Wow… some age of austerity.

  • SpaceColonizer

    Wow… there weren’t any cuts in cross agency support… I figured that would take at least some hit.

  • Bennett

    So now we await the CCDev awards? Any news on when that is going to happen?

    In regards to the rocket, it’s obvious that the ATK folks have everyone (in DC) in their pocket, but that doesn’t mean that NASA needs to spend money NOW on SRBs that have already been developed and tested, does it?

    Just tell the Senate that, “Hey, that part is already done and we need to work on the core, second stage, infrastructure, etc… for several years, so no $$$ for ATK until 2015.”

    “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

  • tu8ca

    @ SpaceColonizer
    The ‘age of austerity’ only applies to the common working man.

    Does anyone honestly expect the prime contractors (same as the big military contractors) to suffer? Does anyone expect there to be consequences for squandering $10 billion on CxP? And, consequently, does anyone believe the 130tn project will go any better?

    There’s no need and no payloads for a 130tn lifter in 2016. It’s a boondoggle, pure and simple, for the rich fat prime contractors who’ve been gorging themselves at the trough of corporate welfare for decades.

    Personally I’m a huge fan of space exploration. I just hate squandering billions needlessly, and watching politicians do what’s best for their carriers at the expense of the country.

  • Jonathan Goff

    Heh. A 130 ton SLS that can be built on this budget and this timeline, with an upper stage from the get-go isn’t going to be Ares or Shuttle derived. That option isn’t even remotely practicable on that timeline and budget… Congress should be careful what it asks for. Bolden might actually give it to them.

    Also, by requiring that much to be spent on SLS and MPCV this year when we are that far into the year might also not be realistic. Between the budget SLS has, the short timeline, the unrealistic requirements (doing a full 130 ton vehicle on the timeline and budget that was pushing reality for even a 70 ton vehicle), and the huge changes from CxP, they’re going to have to cancel all of the existing Ares contracts and rebid them. Even if they had those solicitations ready to go today, I doubt they could make a selection and award in 6 months.

    Not sure if I should cry at the myopia of our leaders, or just kick back and pop some popcorn.

    Jon

  • amightywind

    CR for bilateral programs with China or hosting Chinese visitors at NASA facilities.

    This will be a blow to the soft minded internationalists who live to hand out gratuities and sing kumbaya with our adversaries. Further proof that NASA is potent foreign policy instrument.

    And they want THAT by 2016!

    Hard to see why this is a stretch when the design, all of the parts, and facilities are already available. The political cabal that runs NASA will do anything to avoid actually building a rocket! Mike Griffin had no such reluctance.

  • Jim

    Why is this a CR? I thought they agreed on a real 2011 budget finally…
    Since it doesn’t continue at 2010 funding levels or 2010 programs (getting rid of Constellation) isn’t this the real 2011 budget?

  • tu8ca

    “Hard to see why this is a stretch [by 2016] when the design, all of the parts, and facilities are already available.”,

    Three letters; CxP

    Never underestimate the skill and determination of corporate executives to squeeze the most money possible from a government contract while expending the least possible risk and effort on their part.

  • Scia

    “This will be a blow to the soft minded internationalists who live to hand out gratuities and sing kumbaya with our adversaries. Further proof that NASA is potent foreign policy instrument.”

    Actually I think its because China steals all the tech they can get their hands on.

  • Jeff Foust

    Any info on CCDev2 funding?

    CCDev-2 funding would most likely come out of the ~$800M in the exploration account not allocated to SLS or MPCV. (There’s no specific language regarding it in the CR.) That should clear the way for NASA to move forward on announcing awards.

    Why is this a CR?

    It’s a procedural thing, really: this is the final budget for 2011.

  • CharlesHouston

    What sort of wrinkles (if any) will the CR status (vs a normal appropriations bill) entail? They have to add a lot of anomaly language, correct, to remove the Shelby Provisions, fund STS-135, etc etc etc???? Certainly it is the final for 2011 (and for a half of 2012 I bet) but it will track closely with the Authorization bill???

  • Egad

    Jonathan Goff astutely remarked, “Bolden might actually give it to them.”

    Also heh. If General Bolden were more wicked than he seems to be, he certainly has been handed an opportunity to make certain congresscritters look like absolute fools. Alas, he’ll probably not do that.

  • 130 ton heavy lunch by 2016?

    Put it out to bid, with bonus incentives to meet deadline and/or be under budget (and be successful of course), that’s how CA got it’s freeways done fast after Hayward earthquake.

  • yg1968

    Jeff,

    If no amount is specified for commercial crew in the full-year CR, I think that the NASA Authorization Act still governs. If there is not enough funding for everything, I think that it gets prorated based on the NASA Authorization Act. Bottom line, if my math is correct, I believe that commercial crew has been cut to from $312M to $225 million.

  • Robert G. Oler

    That sound you hear is the air rushing out of the DIRECT group as they realize that DIRECT designed by non rocket scientist is to remain a model.

    Cx is finally dead…having predicted its end even before it started while gaining no pleasure from it (OK just a little bit) it is fun to recognize that at least the agency is predictable. Those folks couldnt manage their way out of a head. Robert G. Oler

  • Coastal Ron

    So Congress wants an Ares V type launcher on an Ares I budget & schedule?

    How does going from a 70-100 ton evolvable launcher to a 130 ton launcher require $0 and zero time?

    This can only be explained by intense lobbying on the part of the entrenched Shuttle infrastructure, and their desire to keep the maximum amount of money flowing until the inevitable cancellation of yet another over-budget, over-schedule, un-needed program (i.e. SLS).

    Congress is living in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Dave Huntsman

    Well said, John and Egad.

  • amightywind

    The final disposition of the shuttle orbiters was as I predicted. One for KSC, 1 for Smithsonian. Enterprise to NYC was a predictable political payoff for Charles Shumer, but strange in that New York has had little role to play in the shuttle era. New York has become a technology backwater. Assigning Endeavor to California baffles me. It is difficult to figure out who is being paid off in the LA area. There is no denying the important role of played by California contractors, and Edwards Air Force Base in the program.

  • Major Tom

    “Hard to see why this is a stretch when the design, all of the parts, and facilities are already available.”

    If you’re referencing the Jupiter-246 design, that’s a pure lie.

    The 6xRL-10B-2 upper stage does not exist.

    If NASA forgoes the 6xRL-10B-2 design in favor of a J-2X-powered upper stage to maximize retention of Constellation contracts and workforce, per the authorization, then the engine for the upper stage doesn’t exist either.

    The 4xSSME thrust structure for the core stage does not exist.

    If the SLS is going to launch more than just a few times, a new, expendable variant of the SSME will have to be developed before the existing SSME inventory is eaten up. That core stage engine does not exist.

    If NASA forgoes the four-stage SRBs in favor of five-segment SRBs to maximize retention of Constellation contracts and workforce, per the authorization, then the booster stages don’t exist in any flight-proven configuration, either.

    Orion doesn’t exist in any flight-proven configuration.

    The payload faring, internal carriers, and stack interface don’t exist.

    For crewed missions, the boron carbide/kevlar shield and LES don’t exist.

    And key modifications to the mission processing and launch infrastructure don’t exist.

    “Mike Griffin had no such reluctance.”

    Griffin gave Ares I/Orion a larger budget (~$3.5B in FY10 rising to $5.5B in FY11 versus $3 billion in FY11) and easier requirements (25-tons versus 130-tons to LEO, ISS servicing versus BEO missions). Yet after five years of trying, Ares I and Orion never got past the lower-stage suborbital test stage. There’s no reason to believe that SLS/MPCV, if constrained to the same technical base, contracts, and workforce, can get a 5x bigger LV and more complex capsule operational in the same time for less money.

    Sigh…

  • Major Tom

    “The final disposition of the shuttle orbiters was as I predicted.”

    You made no prediction at all in the “Shuttle Diplomacy” thread:

    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/04/05/shuttle-diplomacy/#comments

    Stop lying.

    Ugh…

  • John Malkin

    mightywind wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    It is difficult to figure out who is being paid off in the LA area.

    Maybe because there is no conspiracy behind it. Bolden said it’s near the location it was built at the former Rockwell International site. I’m disappointed the Midwest didn’t get one but I think the Ohio delegation should give it a rest and work on the 2012 appropriations bill. I guess Obama didn’t put any weight into it since Chicago would have gotten one. I could have biked to it.

  • JR

    RE: starting HSF all over

    Do we get to send a monkey up again?
    I know wehere we can get a couple of really big ones!

  • E.P. Grondine

    ATK has its 5 segs.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    This is what happens when a President blows up the previous space policy and then walks away, leaving it to others to try to repair the wreckage. I hope the Internet Rocketeer Club is happyu. They sowed their own myopic dream of space as a crony capitalism exercise and now they are reaping chaos in abundence.

  • SpaceColonizer

    (Previously posting as James T, also previously posting drunk at 3:30 in the morning PST)

    I don’t know if it’s the whiskey or the budget, but my head hurts. At the FY12 budget hearing (which in the end really had nothing to do with FY12) there was a phrase used by Sen. Mikulshi at least a couple of times: that congress has the responsibility to be “stewards of taxpayers’ money.” Well, guys and gals, here’s the thing… THEY’RE BLOWING IT!!!

    130tn HLV by 2016? With no payload in the works to use it. Jesus Tapdancing Christ… 130 TONS!? That’s so huge. How much would it end up costing even to make a payload to fit that bill? Going to go out on a limb here and say…. more than can possibly be budgeted by the end of the decade.

    Let’s face facts, the Senate Launch System will NOT be completed by 2016, even IF a primary configuration of 70 tons is “allowed.” It’ll have cost overruns, it’ll have technical complications, it’ll just not get done as fast as anyone “wants.”

    Let’s assume that people come to their senses and permit an initial configuration of 70 tons. Even if they try as hard as they can, it won’t be done until 2018, at the earliest. Then what? Use it to send a needlessly large resupply to ISS? To ferry astronauts to the ISS? It would be overkill for such a vehicle to stop in LEO, and CRS will already have been in full gear for at least 4 years with Commercial Crew probably already available. Add to that the fact that 53 tons (Falcon Heavy) isn’t too far off from that 70 ton mark, and SpaceX is claiming that could be ready for customers as early as 2013.

    What else could a 70 ton SLS be used for? How long will it take to design/build that payload? Keep in mind that not all the SLS funding will be freed up, work towards the 130 ton configuration will take at least a large chunk of it, plus the cost for “using” it in the mean time. I guess I have to admit that’s the only fair argument for going straight for the 130 ton, because by the time we can finish making something for the 70 ton configuration to launch, the 53 ton commercial option will have been available for at least 4 years and the 130ton configuration would almost be ready.

    Wow… did I just rant myself into approving a primary configuration of 130 tons? Time to make some pancakes.

    Long story short… commercial is now ahead of the curve. The game has changed. We’ve gotten to the point where the new space commercial companies are going to beat legacy contractors to the punch. If we are committed to a 130 ton first inception of SLS, then it won’t be ready until 2020 at the earliest. You think SpaceX and other companies aren’t going to make new announcements in the next 8 years? You think SpaceX is going to stop with the Falcon Heavy and not design anything bigger in the next 8 years? Well think again.

  • common sense

    I wonder how some one like Bolden can take all the nonsense from Congress without well actually even smiling. You know actually that maybe why he gets emotional. It must be easier to vent off the frustration and sadness and ridiculous, what is it, Kabuki theater he has to live in. After so many years in the real world of the military, going to combat and to space well he now has to face his most formidable adversary: Idiocy. I am not really this kind of person but I might cry too. Going home to his family every night after a day in the office boy. Anyway. I hope he keeps up the good work and provide a detailed plan for what he is going to do with all this money that is not wasted on Orion, err MPCV (Sen. Hutchinson, you know it really is not Orion any more…).

    Major Tom I think you are way too pessimistic. Come on. I long for the day we see a Jupiter or a Sidemount up on a pad somewhere. Speaking of which, won’t they have to build a new pad? A new tower? A new crawler? Because y’know a rocket in a hangar does not look THAT great. Nope.

  • common sense

    @ Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    “This is what happens when a President blows up the previous space policy and then walks away, leaving it to others to try to repair the wreckage. I hope the Internet Rocketeer Club is happyu. They sowed their own myopic dream of space as a crony capitalism exercise and now they are reaping chaos in abundence.”

    This what? What are you talking about? Can you make an effort for intelligibility once?

  • common sense

    @ amightywind wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Yeah ever heard of Rockwell? Those people who actually designed and built the orbiter… Not everything is/was in Utah/Alabama/Texas you know?

  • Maybe because there is no conspiracy behind it. Bolden said it’s near the location it was built at the former Rockwell International site.

    Parts of it were built in Downey, but it was assembled in Palmdale, sixty miles away.

  • Aberwys

    common sense wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Don’t give Kabuki a bad name. At least they take the time to present a show that the audience wants to see. What we saw yesterday was not even close to what anyone wants to see.

    Heck, there was really no ceremony in this hearing at all. Babs restated her comments from lunch earlier that day and Bolden, well, at best, oh forget it. I lack adjectives for yesterday’s performance.

    Didn’t he say he’d quit if he did not sufficiently inspire Obama’s daughters? I’m still waiting for that inspiration too…

  • Martijn Meijering

    Those folks couldnt manage their way out of a head.

    I’m not familiar with that idiom…

  • The losers are already threatening political retaliation. Hutchison claims Bolden broke the law and Senator Brown of Ohio wants the GAO to investigate Bolden.

    Political thuggery is bipartisan.

  • @ Mark R. Whittington wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 4:38 pm
    This what? What are you talking about? Can you make an effort for intelligibility once?

    Perhaps a line by line analysis of Mr. Whittington’s position:

    “This is what happens when a President blows up the previous space policy…”

    Cost overruns, under-performance, missed milestones, etc, etc…the Constellation program blew itself up, Obama just put out the fire, embers till smolder, too bad USA got only 1 launch for it’s $10B investment of my tax $$$

    “…I hope the Internet Rocketeer Club is happyu… ATK is happy, Boeing is happy, the regular old rocket club is still happy with fat tax $$$, same old rocketeer club in congress is happy repaying their corporate benefactors

    “… They sowed their own myopic dream of space…” This reads a lot like the myopia suffered by Constellation cronies and Heavy lift Porkers who would sacrifice everything else NASA does for their myopic vision of one big rocket.

    “.. as a crony capitalism exercise…” Blames the Dems for their crony capitalism? A century of Republican tax breaks to corporate capitalism and any American has the ***s to write – who is writing this crap, Rush Limbaugh?

    “…and now they are reaping chaos in abundence…” It takes chaos to sweep away the moribund, the result is, if President Obama, is successful, is a vibrant space faring society with more than one US monopoly controlling the price of space access and a lot more launches and space activity for America’s investment.

    Thank you President Obama for trying to take NASA away from crony capitalism into a more cost effective economical space flight model.

  • DCSCA

    No real surprise on locations chosen for shuttles. Population centers. Getting Atlantis into downtown LA, where the museum is, will be an interesting challenge, though. It’s a less than stellar neighborhood and a challenge to get to. In my 12 year living in Los Angeles, managed one trip over there and it was a traffic nightmare given the locale. Simberg’s correct (for once) re- Downey & Palmdale. Edwards might have been a better spot, if only to placate the AF folks some, but many fewer visitors would make the trek up tothe high desert unless they were on their way to the amusement park up that way Chances are school kids in LA will flock to see the exhibit– but whether they can read ‘United States’ along the sides is another matter, as it is most decidely in English.

  • I’m not familiar with that idiom…

    It’s not an idiom. It’s an idiotism (i.e., an Olerism). “Head” is Navy (or mariner in general) slang for toilet.

  • SpaceMan

    I’m not familiar with that idiom…

    Head is a naval term for the compartment/room/space where toilets of one form or another reside.

  • Joe

    Stephen C. Smith wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 6:04 pm
    “The losers are already threatening political retaliation. Hutchison claims Bolden broke the law and Senator Brown of Ohio wants the GAO to investigate Bolden.”

    Let’s see Hutchison (the ranking member of both the Authorization and Appropriations committees) just got an appropriations bill agreed to that matches the authorization law in funding for the SLS/MPCV (her primary objective).

    Just exactly how does that make her a “loser”?

  • DCSCA

    ^- my error. Endeavour to LA; Atlantis to KSC. But then, they all look the same, don’t they.

  • common sense

    @ Aberwys wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    “Don’t give Kabuki a bad name. At least they take the time to present a show that the audience wants to see. What we saw yesterday was not even close to what anyone wants to see.”

    Yeah you’re right. I was just trying to use an expression en vogue around here these days. I therefore duly apologize to Kabuki theater. Oh well…

    “I lack adjectives for yesterday’s performance.”

    Well there was nothing to qualify so no adjective will do I suppose. Empty time, empty conversation. Empty everything. Waste of our time and money. Our Congress going forward, or backward maybe?

    “Didn’t he say he’d quit if he did not sufficiently inspire Obama’s daughters? I’m still waiting for that inspiration too…”

    I would not blame Bolden though. What is the best response to hypocrisy? Well I would venture hypocrisy is. So. However if I were to inspire Obama’s daughters it would most likely not be in engineering or anything like that. There are much more rewarding jobs such as lawyer (the good ones), MD (okay the good ones), anything that relate to other people. Engineering relates to contraptions…

  • Coastal Ron

    The orbiter Enterprise was the only real open question in this whole contest.

    The Smithsonian was going to get one, since by law it has to.

    Kennedy Space Center was going to get one, since that’s where 1.5 million visitors come every year to see what NASA has spent their money on.

    Los Angeles is the birthplace of the orbiters, and Edwards is where many have come back to Earth. The L.A. metro area (CSA) is the 2nd largest in the U.S., and one of the top tourist destinations. Also, since the other two operational orbiters were going to be on the east coast, the west coast is needed for balance.

    Houston? It is the 6th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), but because it’s so far away from any other large populated areas, it doesn’t even qualify as a Combined Statistical Area (CSA). And really, how much of the U.S. actually vacations in Houston?

    Dayton? It is the 61st largest MSA, and though I’m sure it’s a nice place to visit, it is not exactly a huge tourist destination.

    And if visibility is part of the criteria for orbiter homes, then the Intrepid museum in New York city is certainly a good place for Enterprise.

    The choices make sense. Where else should they have gone, and why (i.e. overriding reason U.S. citizens would have supported the location)?

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Hutchison just got an appropriations bill agreed to that matches the authorization law in funding for the SLS/MPCV.

    Just exactly how does that make her a “loser”?

    Stephen was talking about Shuttle orbiter dispositions, not budget numbers.

    But while we’re at it, NOW do you believe that Congress wants NASA to build a 130 ton SLS? Before you said there was no evidence, but I guess that issue is cleared up now.

    Oh, and does anyone know how NASA is going to built a 130 ton SLS with the same budget & schedule constraint as the original 70-100 ton version?

    At least Congress is going to make it easy to determine when this program is not going to be able to meet it’s budget & schedule goals, since it’s behind-schedule and under-budget on day one. Now we just need the GAO to come in and validate that condition so NASA has official backup for the inevitable Congressional hearings on why the Senate Launch System is not meeting it’s 2016 launch date.

  • amightywind

    They sowed their own myopic dream of space as a crony capitalism exercise and now they are reaping chaos in abundence.

    This what? What are you talking about? Can you make an effort for intelligibility once?

    Which one of the big words didn’t you understand? Obama blew up NASA and is backing away from it as quietly as he can. It is going to make a fantastic campaign issue in Florida next year.

    I would not blame Bolden though.

    Bolden’s is the first NASA without a manned launch system or one under development. He is the Jimmy Carter of NASA, on steroids.

  • Major Tom

    “Let’s see Hutchison (the ranking member of both the Authorization and Appropriations committees) just got an appropriations bill agreed to that matches the authorization law in funding for the SLS/MPCV (her primary objective).

    Just exactly how does that make her a “loser”?”

    First, Mr. Smith was referring to the disposition of the Shuttle orbiters after retirement, not the remaining-year budget CR. NASA announced decisions on the former earlier today.

    Second, the CR provides ~$300 million _more_ for SLS/MPCV than was authorized in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. In FY11, the Act authorized $1.1 billion for MPCV and $1.6 billion for SLS, or a total of $2.7 billion, while the CR provides $1.2 billion for MPCV and $1.8 billion for SLS, or $3.0 billion total. If Hutchison is to blame, then she’s not following her own authorization and allowed MPCV/SLS budget growth of $300 million or 11% in just half a year. And this cost growth is coming at a time when the overall NASA budget is shrinking from $19 billion in the authorization to $18.5 billion in the CR.

    Regardless of whether Hutchison or someone else was behind the move, MPCV and SLS are already experiencing significant cost growth and impacting other NASA programs in a shrinking budget environment. Not good for MPCV/SLS and not good for other NASA programs.

    FWIW…

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    So it looks like Congress has not managed to understand the reality of their SLS and that they have surrendered the high ground to the General.
    Will Bolden have the balls to contract out the SLS? Will he decide that the best approach is to keep it going in-house while SpaceX moves forward with the FH? Will other U.S. commercial companies decide to compete with SpaceX using their own dime?
    Lots of questions from this. Time will tell and in the meanwhile SpaceX continues on developing real hardware and flying real vehicles.
    I predict a combined COTS-C flight 2/3 around November this year with the first CRS flight shortly thereafter.
    If CCDev Rd2 doesn’t deliver sufficient funds to SpaceX and Boeing to finalise their vehicles then NASA will have wasted more time and the HSF gap will increase which would be a pity. The upgraded Soyuz has had some teething problems. All they need is a major one and the ISS could be history. Serious risk situation.

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    “Regardless of whether Hutchison or someone else was behind the move, MPCV and SLS are already experiencing significant cost growth and impacting other NASA programs in a shrinking budget environment. Not good for MPCV/SLS and not good for other NASA programs.”

    The worst of course being that there is not enough budget for either SLS or MPCV. Suffice to look at Ares 1 and Orion. This makes Hutchinson a winner for space pork but a loser as her programs will eventually die since she does not seem to understand the budget issues.

    Loser. No matter how you look at it.

  • common sense

    “Which one of the big words didn’t you understand?”

    I understand words even big empty words. I don’t understand rethorical nonsense whose grammar is debatable. Here for reminder: “They sowed their own myopic dream of space as a crony capitalism exercise and now they are reaping chaos in abundence.”

    “It is going to make a fantastic campaign issue in Florida next year.”

    No it won’t. Not in Florida. Maybe in certain districts but that’s about it. Voters will be nicely reminded of the republican cuts on medicare.

    “Bolden’s is the first NASA without a manned launch system or one under development. He is the Jimmy Carter of NASA, on steroids.”

    Not true. According to your own values there are SLS and MPCV which are nothing but Ares and Orion in a different flavor with similar budget as those under Bush, W that is.

  • yg1968

    I might be wrong about commercial crew being reduced. For example, I don’t know if NASA could take money from COTS and give it to CCDev-2. I don’t know if any exploration reduction in non-SLS and non-MPCV items must be made on a pro rata basis or if some flexibility is possible.

  • jrst

    @yg1968 “I don’t know if any exploration reduction in non-SLS and non-MPCV items must be made on a pro rata basis or if some flexibility is possible.”

    Some flexibility is possible. Pro-rata is not a rule. IIRC ~5-10% is typically considered within normal and discretionary bounds for an agency to move funds around; beyond that they have to talk to the committee (in some cases new legislation is required–depends on stipulations in the bills).

    Hard see much further this point until NASA responds and we get more insight into the give-and-take. IMHO the only thing we aren’t likely to see much give-and-take on are the $1.8B SLS and $1.2B MPCV numbers; what’s left is still an open question.

  • E.P. Grondine

    I want to join others here in thanking Jeff for his reports.
    Thanks, Jeff.

    You all do realize that posting here has no real effect on anything in the real world?

    About the only thing that one can effect with postings here is the political perception of actions.

    Given that, does anyone here actually follow the corporate lobbyists closely?

    I can assure you that any individual, if pursued and attacked, can be fouled up. Thus if you could foul up enough individual lobbyists, then you might have some effect.

    Aside from that, the only thing to do as regards 130 tons first phase is ask “Why?”.

  • reader

    SLS in 2016 ? Bring on the rainbow farting unicorns !

    In other news, Norm Augustine is looking forward to do another blue ribbon panel around 2015 or so. Rehashing the same old. Without any hope of actually being listened to ..

  • Szebehely

    Oler, Samberg, Major Tom, and Common Sense, just wanted to let you guys know that the Champagne has been put in the chiller and am awaiting passage of NASA’s 2011 Budget and to celebrate the resumpt…er, sorry, beginning of the Ares V…darn it!, the SLS, and Orion…verdammt, the MPCV

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    A bit off-topic but I’d assumed that crew was pretty important to SpaceX. A recent interview with Elon has dissuaded me from that as he stated that the priorities for SpaceX are, in order, CRS and then competing directly with the EELVs. No mention of crew at all. Interesting. Full text here:

    http://www.spacenews.com/venture_space/110412-eelv-spacex-priority-after-iss.html

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    common sense wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 9:46 pm
    @ Major Tom wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    “Regardless of whether Hutchison or someone else was behind the move, MPCV and SLS are already experiencing significant cost growth and impacting other NASA programs in a shrinking budget environment. Not good for MPCV/SLS and not good for other NASA programs.”

    ” “The worst of course being that there is not enough budget for either SLS or MPCV. Suffice to look at Ares 1 and Orion. This makes Hutchinson a winner for space pork but a loser as her programs will eventually die since she does not seem to understand the budget issues.

    Loser. No matter how you look at it.” ”

    Yes, and the winner looks like being SpaceX if they successfully develop and fly FH. Since they already have plans to evolve their FH to a super HL vehicle Falcon X / XX they’re doing NASA’s work for them (this is ok since NASA’s paying them to anyway). In the article I referenced above, specific mention of SpaceX Falcon 9:

    “Referring specifically to SpaceX, Garver said a conventional NASA procurement of a Falcon 9-class rocket would cost nearly $4.5 billion according to a NASA-U.S. Air Force cost model that includes the vehicle’s first flight. Outsourcing development to SpaceX, she said, would cut that figure by 60 percent, but only if other customers purchase the vehicle, thus permitting scale economies to reach maximum effect.”

    Other customers have purchased F9 and SpaceX believes they have customers for FH.

  • Ben Russell-Gough

    @ E. P. Grondine,

    ATK has its 5 segs.

    Not quite. It has ground-test articles of the five-seg, not flyable units. Worse, they are balanced for the in-line configuration (for use on Ares-I or Liberty), not the parallel configuration that will be needed on SLS. So, there will need to be a small but non-trivial redesign of the boosters too. Given ATK’s performance to date, it won’t be cheap. Tens of millions here and tens of millions there and you’re pretty quickly talking about real money.

    There is a reason why DIRECT’s 3.0 proposal always called for the use of the shuttle RSRM and unmodified new-build SSMEs on the first block of J-130. It was because they recognised that making five-seg and RS-25e would potentially be a long pole. If Congress insists on using J-2X and 5-seg, then the 2016 IOC date has gone out of the window.

    Meanwhile, today it looks like Virgin, Bigelow, Sierra Nevada and ULA are going to announce the world’s first private space station project. NASA are in very real danger of seeming irrelevant here.

  • I don’t know if any exploration reduction in non-SLS and non-MPCV items must be made on a pro rata basis or if some flexibility is possible.

    Good question, the CR gives the money to the pork ship (SLS) instead of commercial crew; no surprise there.

    Does the bill also indicate that NASA is ordered to use the old cost-plus contracts to build this albatross, or can Bolden bid everything or parts of it out to fixed contract?

  • amightywind

    BfD

    Thanks for the link to the Musk puff piece.

    “I am a little disappointed” with the Air Force, Musk said. “It is now practically the sole holdout of all the world’s agencies, the sole entity” that has not purchased a Falcon 9 rocket.

    It is his political acumen that you must admire most. Perhaps the Air Force ignores him because he has never launched a real payload before.

    Musk said the Falcon 9 Heavy would be only half as expensive as Russia’s Proton, when measured in the cost of placing a given satellite into orbit.

    The F9 is roughly comparable to a Zenit 3SL, with a worse first thrust package. It is hard to see how he achieves such economy beyond burning his PayPal cash.

  • Jim Hillhouse

    @Ben Russell Gough,

    Your statement concerning ATK’s 5-segment boosters being ground test articles and not flyable units is inaccurate, though given the gross inaccuracies pilfered by opponents to the SLS, understandable.

    All “test articles” used by ATK in it’s tests, eg DM-1 and DM-2, were made up of actual flight articles. At the tests, ATK actually lists the various Shuttle missions that the segments have flown on. Aside from reaching their life-cycle limits, you could use those segments again were the Shuttle program continuing.

    The test setup of the 5-segment boosters is very nearly the same as that for the 4-segment used for the Shuttle. If anything, the engineers at ATK can extrapolate any data from the inline test to parallel results–they’ve been doing this for awhile.

    In fact, something you may not have know, the 5-segment program first began long before Ares I, but as part of a Shuttle performance enhancement effort.

  • Jim Hillhouse

    So, folks, how about that great budget released by the House? NASA needs to be careful what it asks for…Charlie says he can’t build the SLS for $1.631B of funding as authorized this year, so the Appropriators boosted that by $169M. Sweet! And boosted funding for MPCV by $80M over authorized levels to $1.2B. Awesome! Too bad it looks like that additional money, as well as the funding cut of $60M in Exploration over that authorized, seems to have come out of Commercial Crew’s hide. What a great say in America!

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 12th, 2011 at 8:48 pm
    “But while we’re at it, NOW do you believe that Congress wants NASA to build a 130 ton SLS? Before you said there was no evidence, but I guess that issue is cleared up now.”

    I know you can come up with some creative interpretations of what people have said, but I never said anything that could be sanely interpreted as that.

    What I said was that the Authorization law called for an initial 70 – 100 ton capability by 2016, with growth capability to 130 tons at an unspecified later date. That sort of requirement is not uncommon in technical development (as I also tried to explain at NASA it is usually called “scarring”, in the military threshold/objective). There is nothing radical or hard to understand about it.

    But the Administration (along with numerous posters on this site) chose to say it was incomprehensible and thus could not be enforced. OK, you played your game and now you have a requirement that even the administration will have trouble pretending to not understand. Hopefully in execution the 70 – 100 ton (Threshold) to 130 ton (Objective) evolution will be possible. But the situation is strictly fault of the Administration for not playing a straight game with the Congress, thus forcing the Appropriations Committee to remove the flexibility in the Authorization Law that the Administration tried to use a wiggle room.

  • FYI, an interesting comment from Elon Musk during his address at the 27th National Space Symposium on Tuesday April 12:
    “”What we’ve been told by NASA is that if we don’t reach the space station by the end of this year, there’s a risk that they will have to de-man the space station next year. We’ve got to be sure that we get to the space station. That is very much our primary focus.”"

    See:
    http://www.space.com/11373-spacex-rockets-dragon-capsule-nasa-nss27.html

  • yg1968

    @jrst

    If prorata is not the rule, is NASA allowed to allocate up to 312M (the amount which was authorized for commercial crew in the NASA Authorization bill) for commercial crew development without asking for the approval of the appropriations committees?

  • Major Tom

    “So, folks, how about that great budget released by the House? NASA needs to be careful what it asks for…Charlie says he can’t build the SLS for $1.631B of funding as authorized this year, so the Appropriators boosted that by $169M. Sweet! And boosted funding for MPCV by $80M over authorized levels to $1.2B. Awesome!”

    It’s not “sweet” or “awesome”. It means that SLS and MPCV have experienced cost growth of about $300 million or 11% in just six months. They’re on track for annual cost growth of 20%. This is the kind of unsustainable, out-of-control budget that killed Constellation in the first place. It’s nothing to be proud of in terms of stewardship of the taxpayer dollar, and it’s something to be very worried about in terms of SLS/MPCV viability, especially in this budget environment.

    “Too bad it looks like that additional money, as well as the funding cut of $60M in Exploration over that authorized, seems to have come out of Commercial Crew’s hide.”

    We have no idea where it came from. The CR provides no specific funding level for commercial crew. The Administration will likely use that legislative flexibility to fully fund commercial crew. But the cost growth on SLS/MPCV will have to come out of the hide of some NASA program(s) somewhere.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @ Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 2:51 am

    “A bit off-topic but I’d assumed that crew was pretty important to SpaceX. A recent interview with Elon has dissuaded me from that as he stated that the priorities for SpaceX are, in order, CRS and then competing directly with the EELVs. No mention of crew at all. Interesting.”

    I can’t remember how many times I’ve said it… Of course the market is that. How often do you launch cargo/satellites compared with a crewed vehicle? Sometimes I think that Elon is using the crew argument as a smoke screen so that he be left alone doing the real business of devouring the world launch market. He may not be a rocket scientist in the purest term but he is a very savvy financier despite all the bravo-sierra slung around here and elsewhere.

    In the mean time the headless chickens were running in circles, in circles, circles… Where is my orbiter???? Taking care of the useless, wasting more time and money, shoving this pile of paper from left to right and writing authorizations to do so, readying hearings to listen to themselves spouting nonsense that make them happy. I wonder how many of those people watch their mirrors in the morning thinking how great they are.

    What are they going to do with the Ares 1 launch tower? Maybe Houston could get that? Don’t know. Just sayin’

  • common sense

    “But the situation is strictly fault of the Administration for not playing a straight game with the Congress, thus forcing the Appropriations Committee to remove the flexibility in the Authorization Law that the Administration tried to use a wiggle room.”

    All that really matters is that “The so-called “Shelby provision” from the 2010 appropriations act that prevents NASA from terminating Constellation programs is formally, finally removed.”

    Everything else (SLS, MPCV) is unfunded Kabuki… err, sorry Aberwys ;) unfunded theatrics. Come to think of it that may also be a bad name for theatrics. Hm.

  • common sense

    @ Szebehely wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Yeah well let’s see how far this budget goes for SLS/MPCV. When they have an SLS-X suborbital flight next with two SRBs taped together around a recovered Shuttle tank if there is one somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic. Maybe Branson could get to it with his new sub. Hey why not. We’ll see.

    Careful with the Champagne though it is insanely full of empty bubbles…

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    “It means that SLS and MPCV have experienced cost growth of about $300 million or 11% in just six months. They’re on track for annual cost growth of 20%. ”

    Which has very little value to some of our fiscal conservative friends here. Fiscal conservative so long it is not for my toys. The GOP needs more fiscal conservatives like KBH.

    BTW, how do they justify the cost growth? Any one knows?

    Oh well…

  • Coastal Ron

    The NASA Authorization Act (S. 3729) stated the following for the SLS:

    (1) IN GENERAL.—The Space Launch System developed pursuant to subsection (b) shall be designed to have, at a minimum, the following:

    (A) The initial capability of the core elements, without an upper stage, of lifting payloads weighing between 70 tons and 100 tons into low-Earth orbit in preparation for transit for missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

    (B) The capability to carry an integrated upper Earth departure stage bringing the total lift capability of the Space Launch System to 130 tons or more.

    So the big change from (A) to (B) seems to be the EDS.

    My question is did Congress authorize any additional money to build the EDS in time for the 2016 need date, or was it supposed to be part of the original budget for the SLS, but that money was budgeted in the out years after the initial 70-100 ton capability came online?

    It seems to me that either way Congress should be allocating more money in the appropriations bill for the SLS than they originally planned for in the NASA Authorization Act.

    Where is the money for the EDS?

  • SpaceMan

    Where is the money for the EDS?

    Unicorn Herd Rainbow Bonds

  • jrst

    @yg1968

    Maybe. Could NASA come up with a plan for $312M CC within the current budget? Undoubtedly. Will they do that? Unknown. Would the committee agree with NASA’s plan? Unknown.

    In short, we’ll have to wait until we see NASA’s plan based on the CR and negotiations with the committee.

  • Egad

    > Where is the money for the EDS?

    Where is the money or the plan for whatever (Altair?) is going to depart Earth on the Earth Departure Stage?

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    “common sense wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I can’t remember how many times I’ve said it… Of course the market is that. How often do you launch cargo/satellites compared with a crewed vehicle? Sometimes I think that Elon is using the crew argument as a smoke screen so that he be left alone doing the real business of devouring the world launch market. He may not be a rocket scientist in the purest term but he is a very savvy financier despite all the bravo-sierra slung around here and elsewhere.”

    Point taken. I think you’re right. Elon’s been charging at the cargo market behind the scenes all the time and lulling his competitors into a false sense of security by talking about crew. Now’s he’s pounced and given the short timeframe to launching FH, they won’t be able to catch him. F9, a truly evolvable vehicle. Actually F1 because he probably proved up a lot of his systems including the basic engine with that vehicle.

  • red

    It looks like the SLS and MPCV raid violates the intent of the FY 2011 Authorization by considerably exceeding the original values for SLS and MPCV at the expense of human research, commercial crew, commercial cargo, exploration research, and robotic precursors. It also violates the intent of the compromise in the areas of aeronautics and general space technology. So much for the complaints from the SLS and MPCV camps about violating the intent of the Authorization by merely proposing additional commercial crew and technology funding in the Administration FY 2012 proposal. It looks like the Administration will be forced to get tough it they don’t want SLS and MPCV to continue raids on the rest of NASA.

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    If SpaceX is not really interested in crew at this point (may be due to resource constraints that anything else) where does that leave Bigelow. He needs crew transportation. Boeing might meet his cost numbers but I doubt Soyuz would and he’s said he needs 2 providers minimum.
    Guess it’s wait a bit longer for another provider. Maybe that’s why he’s moved on the inflatable on the ISS? There’s crew there already and the ISS is stuck with only one provider anyway so he can prove most of his systems without worrying about the crew transport side of things.

  • red

    There’s another tabular view of this at

    http://spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/NASA_FY2011_Budget_in_112th_Congress.pdf

    Here are some of the figures for Exploration from the FY 2011 Authorization:

    Human Research 155M
    Commercial cargo 300M
    Commercial crew 312M
    Exploration Technology 250M
    Robotic Precursors 100M

    With the Full-Year CR, all of these these only get 808M because of the SLS/MPCV raid (i.e. the pain of the budget cuts and Shuttle extension weren’t spread equally, and SLS/MPCV even had a big budget increase).

    In FY 2012, the Administration has just about given up on robotic precursors, so it wouldn’t be surprising if that line is discarded to make up part of the shortfall this year, too.

    Also, here are some other values for the Authorization and full-year CR:

    Aeronautics 580M 535M
    Space Technology 350M N/A
    NASA Launch Support and Modernization 429M (not broken out in CR)
    Cross-Agency Support 3111M

    So where can the difference be made up? A while ago Bolden talked about delaying the KSC modernization; could that 429M be a source for patching up some of the SLS/MPCV damage?

    Cross-agency support funding is down $83M from 2010, but Innovative Partnerships was moved to Space Technology. Could Cross-Agency support be a source for reviving a bit of Space Technology?

  • common sense

    @ SpaceMan wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    “Unicorn Herd Rainbow Bonds”

    Yep, I used the same to finance my mortgage. It’s run by a real estate subsidiary of JSC.

  • Coastal Ron

    Beancounter from Downunder wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    If SpaceX is not really interested in crew at this point (may be due to resource constraints that anything else) where does that leave Bigelow.

    I think SpaceX is interested in crew, but Musk knows that the big driver of it is NASA, and NASA doesn’t need crew until mid-2016. Boeing isn’t going to build CST-100 without NASA money, and I think Bigelow is well aware of the situation. SpaceX has said they only need 3 years to get crew going, so there is plenty of time.

    I think SpaceX will actually do what Musk has been saying, which is to fly the CRS missions and prove out Dragon for cargo. At some point before mid-2013 NASA should be funding at least two winners of a commercial crew competition, and likely one of them will be SpaceX/Dragon (the other will likely be Boeing/CST-100). Since Dragon will have lots of flight history, they will be able to concentrate on the crew-specific additions like the LAS and ECLSS.

    Keep in mind that SpaceX is not that large of a company, and Musk has said that he is slowing down it’s growth this year and concentrating on manufacturability, so yes, I think resource constraints are part of it. I think the Falcon Heavy development ramps up where the Falcon 9/Dragon-cargo development ramps down, and when Falcon Heavy development ramps down, commercial crew should be ready to start up.

    Though we all want commercial crew to hurry up and get here, I think we need to be patient and wait for all the parts to fall into place (i.e. funding, need, capability, etc.).

    My $0.02

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    Thanks for actually citing the language. It appears I misunderstood Jeff’s report.

    70 ton initial to 130 tons is feasable, without the ATK 5 segs.
    Team DIRECT has its win, and a good section of our tech base has been preserved.

    I don’t know who is being considered for the second stage engines.
    (efing stroke.)

    It looks to me like no one here has given much though to Musk clustering 5 F9′s together – that would put up what, 70 tons?

    You can be sure that Musk has given it some thought. And maybe he will bid it later on, maybe not.

    The only questions are cash flow, how Merlin 2 development goes, and flame trenches. All Musk “needs” is non-interference.

    And as far as interference goes, there are friendly countries that are equatorial and have no restrictions on launch, or export to secure facilities within them. Perhaps Brazil, if need be.

    It looks to me like Musk left the F1 market for Orbital.

    70 tons versus 130 tons initial – bad news turns good for a change – now its back to the fight over how much of the impact hazard comes from comets, and how large it is.

    (And the future consideration of the tech of re-usable first stages and new propulsion technologies – the fun parts).

    Payload development should be straight forward.

    The US will have some pretty good small heavies by 2022.

    Thanks, CR, Jeff.

  • Major Tom

    “It looks like the SLS and MPCV raid violates the intent of the FY 2011 Authorization by considerably exceeding the original values for SLS and MPCV…”

    Since appropriations are not suppossed to exceed authorized levels, a member of Congress could raise a point of order over this and derail the year-end CR. But that’s not going to happen given how much effort went into negotiating it.

    FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 12:13 am

    It looks to me like no one here has given much though to Musk clustering 5 F9′s together – that would put up what, 70 tons?

    You can be sure that Musk has given it some thought. And maybe he will bid it later on, maybe not.

    SpaceX already laid out their launcher evolution last July, and they are sticking with single & triple core designs (not like Angara with 1, 3, 5 or 7 cores). Back in July they were showing the following:

    Falcon 9 (w/Merlin 1D) – 23,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon 9 (w/Merlin 2) – 25,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon Heavy (w/Merlin 1D) – 70,500 lbs to LEO
    Falcon Heavy (w/Merlin 2) – 75,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon X (Merlin 2 & new larger core) – 84,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon X Heavy (triple core) – 276,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon XX (single even larger core) – 308,000 lbs to LEO

    Musk said he could do the Falcon XX for $3B development (fixed price), and $300M/flight. Keep in mind that they just revised the performance for Falcon Heavy, so the performance of the larger launchers could go up too.

    If Congress wants heavy lift, then they should put it out to industry for bid, with a guarantee of X amount of flights. However I don’t see that Congress will allocate money for many missions/payloads that need ANY heavy-lift launcher, including SLS, so this is all a debate over something that won’t happen.

    Spending money on the SLS takes away money from exploration we could be doing with existing launchers. That Boeing and SpaceX float ideas for HLV designs only means that they are responding to a potential customers desires (Congress in this case), not that there is a true need.

    Congress can allocate money to dig holes and fill them up, but that doesn’t mean there is real-world demand for such tasks.

    If Congress thinks HLV’s are truly needed, then where is the funding for the payloads?

  • Rhyolite

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    “Back in July they were showing the following:

    Falcon 9 (w/Merlin 1D) – 23,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon 9 (w/Merlin 1D) – 23,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon 9 (w/Merlin 2) – 25,000 lbs to LEO
    Falcon Heavy (w/Merlin 1D) – 70,500 lbs to LEO
    Falcon Heavy (w/Merlin 2) – 75,000 lbs to LEO”

    That’s actually out of date now since they are showing Falcon Heavy (FH) with 117,000 lbs to LEO. I suspect this is largely due to the addition of propelant cross-feed, which effectively adds a stage to the rocket. The FH is now more capabile than Falcon X. One wonders if there would be a similar improvement for Falcon X Heavy.

  • Joe

    On 04/13/2011 red asked
    red wrote @ April 13th, 2011 at 10:13 pm
    “It looks like the SLS and MPCV raid violates the intent of the FY 2011 Authorization by considerably exceeding the original values for SLS and MPCV”

    And Major Tom replied (on 04/14/2011)
    Major Tom wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 9:18 am
    “Since appropriations are not suppossed to exceed authorized levels, a member of Congress could raise a point of order over this and derail the year-end CR.”

    Yet when a similar question was asked on 03/29/2011(less than 3 weeks earlier)

    Joe wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 7:09 pm
    “ If the White House requests more money than the Authorization allows and if the Appropriators were to give out such money would the Federal Agency involved be allowed (legally) to spend the appropriations in excess of the Authorized level?”

    It got the following replies

    Major Tom wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 9:27 pm
    “Sure. The new law (the appropriation) supersedes the old law (the authorization).”

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 11:18 pm
    “Just to add to what Major Tom said – this happens ALL the time.”

    Rand Simberg wrote @ March 29th, 2011 at 11:27 pm
    “Of course. All that matters is what is appropriated. All the power is with the appropriations committees, which is why congresscritters fight to get on them.
    Authorizations are momentary (since every Congress can have a different opinion every two years) opinions of a momentary Congress. That is why authorization bills are much ado about nothing, and often don’t even happen.
    But they provide a great platform for congresscritters to bloviate about agencies “refusing to follow the law.”

    Question (to whom it may concern) what changed those 3 weeks?

  • Ferris Valyn

    Joe – just because it violates the intent of the Authorization act, does not mean that its illegal.

  • Coastal Ron

    Rhyolite wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    The FH is now more capabile than Falcon X. One wonders if there would be a similar improvement for Falcon X Heavy.

    I did note that Falcon Heavy had been recently revised, but I don’t know if we know enough to assume that some of the same reasons Falcon Heavy got the payload boosts wouldn’t also apply to Falcon X, or even Falcon XX.

    The need for anything about 50,000 lbs to LEO is theoretical anyways, so why should SpaceX stick their necks out for something that doesn’t have funding? As Tom Peters has said, it’s better to under promise and over deliver.

  • Joe

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 1:44 pm
    “Joe – just because it violates the intent of the Authorization act, does not mean that its illegal.”

    But it could “derail the year-end CR.” Sounds an awful lot like (at least) implying it is illegal to me (as opposed to something that happens ALL the time.

  • Ferris Valyn

    Joe – it could cause a derailment because it opens some not particularly pleasant procedural issues. But, it is not illegal

  • Question (to whom it may concern) what changed those 3 weeks?

    We were discussing the general case of an appropriations bill providing more funding than authorized, which happens all the time. In this particular case, we’re talking about a continuing resolution that is not supposed to do so, by common agreement.

  • Joe

    Ferris Valyn wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 2:31 pm
    “Joe – it could cause a derailment because it opens some not particularly pleasant procedural issues. But, it is not illegal”

    What procedural issues?

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
    “We were discussing the general case of an appropriations bill providing more funding than authorized, which happens all the time. In this particular case, we’re talking about a continuing resolution that is not supposed to do so, by common agreement.”

    What common agreement and among who (both the autorization and appropriation commitees are apprently on board with this)?

  • Major Tom

    “Question (to whom it may concern) what changed those 3 weeks?”

    Nothing. Once it’s passed and signed into law, the new appropriations CR supersedes the old authorization law. But the appropriations CR is not yet a law, so a member of Congress could raise a point of order on the issue of the proposed appropriations levels being higher than the levels authorized in law. That would effectively derail the appropriations CR until the issue was resolved. But if no member of Congress raises a point of order (and they would be taking their political life into their own hands if they did so at this point, given all the negotiations that went into the appropriations CR), then the appropriations CR will likely be voted and signed into law and it will then supersede the authorization law.

    For better or worse, this is the way it works…

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 3:02 pm
    “For better or worse, this is the way it works…”

    OK, for better or worse that is a least a coherent answer.

    For “better or worse” (worse form your point of view) it just passed the house.

  • For “better or worse” (worse form your point of view) it just passed the house.

    I’d have preferred a shutdown myself. And not just because of the NASA earmark.

  • Major Tom

    “For “better or worse” (worse form your point of view) it just passed the house.”

    Why is this “worse form [sic]” my “point of view”?

    FWIW…

  • Joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 4:14 pm
    “I’d have preferred a shutdown myself. And not just because of the NASA earmark.”

    Do not like to use Wikipedia as a source, but it was convenient:
    “In United States politics, an earmark is a legislative (especially congressional) provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects, or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees.”

    By that definition any appropriations bill (“directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects”) is nothing but earmarks.

    To you it is a pejorative implying disreputable activity. By your definition, it at least appears, the definition of earmarks is simply any appropriation you do not like (never mind the fact that it was done in coordination with the appropriate committees – House/Senate; Appropriations/Authorizations).

    If that is all an Earmark is (something with which Simberg disagrees) then the term means nothing.

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 4:31 pm
    “Why is this “worse form [sic]” my “point of view”?”

    Thanks for correcting my spelling (spell checker does not catch that particular typo). I would think it is worse from your point of view because you disapprove of the money allocated to SLS/MPCV (that was what we were talking about).

    Please note any other misspellings or grammatical errors as I am trying to improve my online penmanship.

  • Jim Hillhouse

    “Since appropriations are not suppossed to exceed authorized levels, a member of Congress could raise a point of order over this and derail the year-end CR. But that’s not going to happen given how much effort went into negotiating it.”

    Major Tom, there is no provision in the Constitution concerning appropriations exceeding authorizations. Over the years, the gap between the authorizers and appropriators has grown considerably. Yet, this year is the first in a very long time where the authorizers and appropriators are in-sync with each other in their bi-partisan, bi-cameral support of the HSF program. Quite an accomplishment for the Obama Administration.

    It’s silly to think that there will be a point of order raised. The only member of Congress who cares a whit about subsidizing the commercial guys over NASA is Rohrabacher. Even Jerry Lewis, who is in the same Party and Congressional delegation (CA) used to nix Rohrabacher’s authorizations for commercial space when Rohrabacher ran the House Space Authorization Subcommittee.

    Where will the money for Commercial Crew come from? Who knows. But it will not come out of SLS, MPCV and the other items appropriated. That doesn’t leave a whole lot, certainly not $612 million, as authorized for cargo and crew.

    Moral of the story for the commercial crew fans…no, really SpaceX’s Elon is, “Don’t try to bite the hand that feeds you.” And really, get much better and broader support than just a few people in the White House and NASA. Oh…and don’t call Shelby and Aderholt names.

  • Major Tom

    “By that definition any appropriations bill (‘directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects’) is nothing but earmarks.”

    No.

    “Specific” is telling NASA it should build an HLV with certain performance to orbit and that the HLV should use the Shuttle and Constellation technical bases, workforces, and contracts. That’s an earmark.

    Contrast that with an openly competed program (like COTS or CCDev) where there are goals (support ISS cargo and crew transport on commercial vehicles), but no technical specifications (like tonnage to orbit) or use of particular technical bases, workforces, or contracts are called out in the legislation or report language. That’s _not_ an earmark.

    Setting aside disagreements on whether an HLV is necessary or desirable, for the sake of getting the taxpayer the best deal, for the sake of matching technical specifications to actual technical needs, and for the sake ensuring programmatic success, the latter approach is much more advantageous than the former.

    Beyond the political stigma, earmarks have a long history of creating underachieving, nonsensical, and unneeded projects. If you like SLS, you don’t want it to be governed by an earmark.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “I would think it is worse from your point of view because you disapprove of the money allocated to SLS/MPCV (that was what we were talking about).”

    Yes, in that aspect, the appropriation is worse than the authorization. But there are many other aspects to the CR to be considered, and taking them into consideration has nothing to do with whether the CR has passed the House in the past hour or two.

    FWIW…

  • Coastal Ron

    Jim Hillhouse wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Yet, this year is the first in a very long time where the authorizers and appropriators are in-sync with each other in their bi-partisan, bi-cameral support of the HSF program.

    How many speeches were made in support of the SLS during these budget debates? The MPCV? How much time was given to NASA’s 0.5% of the federal budget? The real truth is that NASA continues to be a minor agency that is lorded over by those few that have monetary interests in them, but little national interest. The lords spoke, but the people did not.

    Where will the money for Commercial Crew come from?

    The great thing about commercial crew is that it doesn’t need 5 years to get someone into space. SpaceX will only need three years, and even then they will already have over 12 flights of their vehicle and launcher to point to for reliability. And instead of $4.5B minimum that the MPCV needs to launch, Boeing likely will need far less for it’s CST-100.

    Moral of the story for the commercial crew fans…no, really SpaceX’s Elon is, “Don’t try to bite the hand that feeds you.”

    You keep thinking that SLS/MPCV & commercial crew funding is all about anti-SpaceX feelings, but SLS and MPCV would have been pushed this hard regardless who the bogeyman was – it’s all about money flowing, not getting things done in space.

    What you really need to focus on is whether the SLS and MPCV have enough funding to be finished by 2016 or ever. By any measure they don’t, which means they will be under Congressional scrutiny soon, and a prime target for cancellation in a budget conscious Congress looking to cut what’s not really needed (i.e. a mega-launcher with NO funded payloads).

    I for one don’t want to the future of space exploration to be dependent on the whims of those in Congress like Senator Shelby, so while I like NASA doing exploration type stuff, I look forward to commercial companies taking over the grunt work of moving crew and cargo to/from space. It’s inevitable, so it’s just a matter of how much pork Congress wants to extract before we get there. I give SLS two years until it’s under the knife.

  • By that definition any appropriations bill (“directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects”) is nothing but earmarks.

    This is why you shouldn’t use Wikipedia. An earmark isn’t just for a “specific project.” It is for a specific project to occur in a specific zip code, usually for a specific company. SLS, as defined by Congress, is clearly an earmark.

  • Joe

    Major Tom wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 5:19 pm
    “Specific” is telling NASA it should build an HLV with certain performance to orbit and that the HLV should use the Shuttle and Constellation technical bases, workforces, and contracts. That’s an earmark.
    Contrast that with an openly competed program (like COTS or CCDev) where there are goals (support ISS cargo and crew transport on commercial vehicles), but no technical specifications (like tonnage to orbit) or use of particular technical bases, workforces, or contracts are called out in the legislation or report language. That’s _not_ an earmark.”

    To most people an earmark is something put into an appropriation bill by a single congressman (under dark of night – as the expression goes) that relates only their own interests (Example: The Congressman X Space Memorial Parking Lot – to be built in their home district, where no particular space related activity has ever taken place; but will benefit a specific campaign donor).

    You are making distinctions between specific amounts of money appropriated for two specific purposes through the normal (in the daylight) committee process. You disagree with one therefore “That’s an earmark”; you agree with the other therefore “That’s _not_ an earmark”. Your privilege, but to me it is the equivalent of calling someone a Nazi because they disagree with your opinion of some local zoning ordinance.

    We are obviously not going to agree on any of this and this is getting perilously close to one of those – he who posts last wins – exchanges, so I am going to move on.

    Have a nice evening.

  • Major Tom, there is no provision in the Constitution concerning appropriations exceeding authorizations.

    No one has claimed there is.

    Learn to read.

  • Joe

    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 7:28 pm
    “This is why you shouldn’t use Wikipedia. An earmark isn’t just for a “specific project.” It is for a specific project to occur in a specific zip code, usually for a specific company. SLS, as defined by Congress, is clearly an earmark.”

    Which specific Zip Code and Which specific company is that?

  • Major Tom

    “To most people…”

    Reference? Quote? Link?

    Someone has taken a poll on your definition of “earmark”?

    Who are all these “people”?

    “an earmark is something put into an appropriation bill by a single congressman”

    Nothing is ever put into any bill by a “single congressman”. Whoever is drafting the bill (often the chair) has to agree to put the language in the bill. And then a majority of the rest of the subcommittee or committee has to approve the language in a vote on the bill.

    “(under dark of night – as the expression goes)”

    Earmarks are published multiple times as versions of a bill move from subcommittee to committee to floor and to conference. The White House (Republican or Democrat) is also constantly publishing up Statements of Administration Position complaining about earmarks.

    “that relates only their own interests”

    And how does language directing billions of dollars to existing Shuttle and Constellation contracts that employ thousands in the states and districts of authorizers like Hutchison and Nelson not relate to the interests of those authorizers?

    “(Example: The Congressman X Space Memorial Parking Lot – to be built in their home district, where no particular space related activity has ever taken place; but will benefit a specific campaign donor).”

    Earmarks are not limited to edifices named after legislators or locations “where no… related activity has ever taken place”.

    “You are making distinctions between specific amounts of money appropriated for two specific purposes through the normal (in the daylight) committee process.”

    Yes, I am. One is an earmark that directs taxpayerfunding to specific contracts and workforces in the states and districts of the members of that committee by making claims to technical expertise that the committee members lack. The other is funding for a program that competitively determines where taxpayer funding goes, which may or may not be in the states and districts of the members of the committee.

    “You disagree with one therefore ‘That’s an earmark’; you agree with the other therefore ‘That’s _not_ an earmark’.”

    No, anytime legislators steer funding to certain performers, contracts and workforces, that’s an earmark. I don’t see why this is so hard to understand. The 2010 NASA Authorization Act literally states that NASA should use existing Shuttle and Constellation contracts and workforce. If that’s not an earmark, then nothing is.

    “Your privilege, but to me it is the equivalent of calling someone a Nazi because they disagree with your opinion of some local zoning ordinance.”

    It’s insulting to the victims of WWII and its runup (and just plain idiotic) to equate the term “earmark” with “Nazi”.

    Do you really equate genocide with greed?

    Oy vey…

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Which specific Zip Code and Which specific company is that?

    From the NASA Authorization Act:

    (1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator shall, as soon as prac- ticable after the date of the enactment of this Act, initiate development of a Space Launch System meeting the minimum capabilities requirements specified in subsection (c).
    (2) MODIFICATION OF CURRENT CONTRACTS.—In order to limit NASA’s termination liability costs and support critical capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts necessary to meet the requirements in paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.

    When Congress starts telling rocket scientists what the components should be for a new rocket, I think most people suspect earmarks.

    My $0.02

  • Beancounter from Downunder

    Unless Bolden puts the SLS out to contractual tender then it aint gonna happen boys and girls. The budget aint enough. The sad part is the billions and time which will be wasted.
    Meanwhile SpaceX starts their CRS contract; FH is rolled out and flys; Dragon Crew starts testing; and wonder of wonders:

    http://www.spacenews.com/launch/110414-air-force-nasa-and-nro-ink-agreement-launching-with-spacex.html

    So much for ‘bite the hand that feeds you …’ Jill. LOL

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 11:56 pm
    “(2) MODIFICATION OF CURRENT CONTRACTS.—In order to limit NASA’s termination liability costs and support critical capabilities, the Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts necessary to meet the requirements in paragraph (1), including contracts for ground testing of solid rocket motors, if necessary, to ensure their availability for development of the Space Launch System.”

    The question was “Which specific Zip Code and Which specific company is that?” The point being singular. Simply quoting the Authorization Law’s intent to maintain the existing Industrial Base (multiple companies in multiple zip codes) does not even try to answer the question.

    “When Congress starts telling rocket scientists what the components should be for a new rocket, I think most people suspect earmarks.”

    I suppose I should play “Major Tom” here and demand poll numbers to justify the use of the expression “most people”, but I am not that anal retentive.

  • ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 9:37 am

    The question was “Which specific Zip Code and Which specific company is that?” The point being singular.

    You assume that an earmark benefits only one company or one zip code, which is not necessarily the case.

    What is plain to see from the legislation is that it was written to preserve the companies already involved in the Shuttle & Constellation programs, and not to open up the SLS program to outside competitors or alternative solutions.

    And by the way, my dictionary defines earmark as “designate (something, typically funds or resources) for a particular purpose“, which doesn’t limit it to a single zip code or company.

    I suppose I should play “Major Tom” here and demand poll numbers to justify the use of the expression “most people”, but I am not that anal retentive.

    I won’t make assumptions about the anal retentive part, but you are such a semantic cop that sometimes you parse words too finely. In this case, if all I said was “most people suspect earmarks”, then you would have a right to ask for the source. But I didn’t say that. I said “I think most people suspect earmarks”, which is a personal statement of opinion.

  • Joe

    Coastal Ron wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 11:33 am
    “You assume that an earmark benefits only one company or one zip code, which is not necessarily the case.
    What is plain to see from the legislation is that it was written to preserve the companies already involved in the Shuttle & Constellation programs, and not to open up the SLS program to outside competitors or alternative solutions.
    And by the way, my dictionary defines earmark as “designate (something, typically funds or resources) for a particular purpose“, which doesn’t limit it to a single zip code or company.”

    The original question I asked was based on the following assertion:
    Rand Simberg wrote @ April 14th, 2011 at 7:28 pm
    “ It is for a specific project to occur in a specific zip code, usually for a specific company. SLS, as defined by Congress, is clearly an earmark.”

    As usual we have now drifted completely off the original topic (because there is no good answer to the original question). To you (and a number of others) an earmark is any appropriated money that goes to a company you do not approve. If you approve of the destination for the appropriated money then it is not an earmark.

    “I won’t make assumptions about the anal retentive part, but you are such a semantic cop that sometimes you parse words too finely. In this case, if all I said was “most people suspect earmarks”, then you would have a right to ask for the source. But I didn’t say that. I said “I think most people suspect earmarks”, which is a personal statement of opinion.”

    Your distinction is the difference stated above and I am a “semantic cop”? :)

    This discussion has long exceeded its usefulness.

    Have a nice day.

  • To you (and a number of others) an earmark is any appropriated money that goes to a company you do not approve. If you approve of the destination for the appropriated money then it is not an earmark.

    It has nothing to do with whether or not we “approve” of the company it goes to. It has to do with whether there is a fair competition, based on actual requirements, or if it’s simply directed to a politically favored entity by political diktat. I don’t understand why you have such a problem understanding this. It seems quite simple to us.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    “I don’t understand why you have such a problem understanding this.”

    Very simply because Joe has appeared to be a sidemount, hence SD-HLV, advocate in his past posts. Therefore I think it satisfies him that the legislation pushed towards a SD vehicle. See no evil hear no evil.

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    To you (and a number of others) an earmark is any appropriated money that goes to a company you do not approve.

    As always, I advocate for those things that lower the cost to access space.

    As long as there is fair and open competitions, I’m a happy camper, regardless if a company I happen to like didn’t win, because the end result will hopefully be more space activity overall, which I would imagine is the goal of most commenters on this blog.

    But what you continue to miss is that by definition if Congress specifies who is to receive appropriated money, then it qualifies as an earmark. Your buddies, my buddies, it doesn’t matter, Congress is deciding where the money should go.

    Instead, Congress should set the goals, set the budget, and let NASA identify the solutions using fair and open competition. That keeps costs competitive, and ensures that new innovations are considered. This is not a new concept, and the government departments/agencies do it on all their major programs. Congress needs to let it happen on the SLS too.

    What is your philosophy for how things should be done?

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ April 15th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Your distinction is the difference stated above and I am a “semantic cop”?

    If you can’t tell the difference between someone stating an opinion, and someone stating something as fact, then no wonder you’re always so confused.

  • Martijn Meijering

    This discussion has long exceeded its usefulness.

    Maybe you should apply this criterion to all your contributions to our debates.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi CR –

    “If Congress thinks HLV’s are truly needed, then where is the funding for the payloads?”

    Clearly the Congress is of the opinion that HLV is needed, and that once at least one HLV is in place, the payloads can be built.

    For some reason the final legislation strikes me as being pretty good.
    Here is my take on the trade space that was before the Congress:

    1) USA – most likely will work, but expensive
    2) ULA – Needs to get full manufacturing license for RD tech
    3) SpaceX – low cost, but uncertain of reliability

    The Congress decided the nation had enough money to keep all three threads going, and in competition, with future payloads and architectures kept in the definition/very preliminary.design stage. Life support systems continue to be tested on ISS, along with other future payload systems and operation systems.

    With the big issues worked out, the immediate smaller impact issues of interest to myself and others will be worked through.

  • Coastal Ron

    E.P. Grondine wrote @ April 18th, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Clearly the Congress is of the opinion that HLV is needed, and that once at least one HLV is in place, the payloads can be built.

    Let’s remember that the decisions being made for NASA, which represents %0.5 of the total budget, are not being made by members with benevolent interests. Congress doesn’t work that way, and those interested in NASA’s budget are not necessarily interested or well versed in space related issues.

    Secondly, part of the rationale given for the 2016 date is that “SLS is needed for exploration”. OK fine, what exploration, and when is the money going to be appropriated? Because every year the SLS is not used, it will consume $1B+ in NASA budget to have people doing busy work, not exploration.

    Until Congress can prove that they need heavy lift (i.e. payloads greater than 25 tons & 4.5m diameter), the SLS is a pork project, nothing more.

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