Congress, NASA

Space Leadership Preservation Act reintroduced; hearing today

Yesterday, five members of Congress formally introduced HR 823, the new version of the Space Leadership Preservation Act that they originally introduced last September. The text of the legislation, provided by SpacePolicyOnline, indicates a few changes from the original version, most notably that the NASA administrator would serve a six-year term, instead of a ten-year term as proposed last year.

“The Space Leadership Preservation Act is our effort to start a national conversation on this very necessary reform effort,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a statement yesterday. “Our bill gets America back on the road to being a leading competitor in the next space race by outlining a leadership structure to develop a bold, strategic, and long-term direction for the future of NASA and US space exploration.”

Wolf and Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), another bill sponsor, will testify about the bill before the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee at 10 am today. Also appearing before the committee are former Lockheed Martin executive Thomas Young, a frequent participant in studies of the space industry as well as hearings like this; and Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham. The Foundation published its own report nearly three months ago on making NASA a “pioneering” organization, including recommendations to give the NASA administrator a five-year term and the creation of a commission similar to the board of directors in the Space Leadership Preservation Act.

53 comments to Space Leadership Preservation Act reintroduced; hearing today

  • Robert G. Oler

    “Our bill gets America back on the road to being a leading competitor in the next space race by outlining a leadership structure to develop a bold, strategic, and long-term direction for the future of NASA and US space exploration.””

    this is the current standard for the GOP House; make a lot of noise and offer few things constructive.

    “leading competitor in the next space race” LOL

    the political water carriers for NASA are always trying to restart Apollo; because of course it was in that era that NASA HSF had its brief moment of glory…problem is that the political and other catalyst for that effort are not present.

    BUT the thing to realize is that even the “hey dey” of the Apollo program NASA HSF did not fly a lot

    In fact I suspect that if you sat down and average the “number” of human space flights a year SINCE the Apollo speech…even counting the uncrewed Mercury through Apollo…and then go into Skylab/shuttle development I bet the average flight rate is 4 or less a year; maybe 5?And all this at an enormous cost per year.

    The entire notion of a “space race” is flawed…it is a throw back to the notion of space for humans as a PR stunt…

    But the House GOP right now is not able to think much out of the superpower box which today is simply a cover for funneling money to contractors. RGO

  • As big a joke as it was the last time. For the sake of this country’s future in space, I hope it doesn’t go any further than it did last time.

  • amightywind

    There is hope. At least some in congress understand that we are in a race, a competition, for supremacy in space. Why don’t we choose to complete?

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      At least some in congress understand that we are in a race, a competition…

      With who?

      Quantify the competition and the stakes involved.

    • amightywind

      With who[sic]?

      China, Russia, EU, Japan. China in particular represents a serious long term strategic and economic threat to the US. Even Obama understands the military threat. We complete for influence in the South China Sea. We certainly compete economically. We complete academically (increasingly poorly). We even compete against them successfully in athletics (Olympics). Why should it not be the case in space where the threat is gravest? In short, China wants what we got. We had better get serious about defending it on all fronts.

      The arguments same applied to Russia, although to a lesser extent.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        China, Russia, EU, Japan.

        All the usual bogeyman, but that in itself is not evidence of the need to throw prodigious amounts of money into space so it can burn up in our atmosphere.

        We complete for influence in the South China Sea.

        But not the Sea of Tranquility on the Moon, nor anywhere in space.

        We certainly compete economically.

        Again, here on Earth, yes, but not in space. You have failed to show any areas of competition, near or far-term, for anything in space.

        Why should it not be the case in space where the threat is gravest?

        You have not shown why “the threat is gravest” in space. You actually sound very much like VP Cheney warning about a “mushroom” cloud from an attack by Iraq – and we all know how inaccurate that was…

        You fail to make a compelling case on any of your points.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    This draft bill is even more toothless and useless than it was before. Instead of stating that the President “shall” nominate the NASA Administrator from among the slate of candidates forwarded by the board of directors created by the draft bill, now the draft bill only states that the President “may” nominate the NASA Administrator from the board’s slate.

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/new-version-of-space-leadership-act-would-appoint-nasa-administrator-for-six-not-ten-years

    This changes nothing. The President can ignore the board of directors that would be created by this draft bill at will, per the wording of the draft bill itself! Utterly pointless.

    Why on God’s green Earth are we wasting taxpayer money drafting and holding a hearing on bill proposal that wouldn’t actually do anything even if it was introduced and passed into law?

    What a joke…

    • common sense

      “Why on God’s green Earth are we wasting taxpayer money drafting and holding a hearing on bill proposal that wouldn’t actually do anything even if it was introduced and passed into law?”

      To cater to their constituents, make noise and fake interest for NASA.

      Of course if their constituents were not just a bunch of idiots they would force their representatives to provide a budget for NASA (or the country for that matter) rather than push the responsibility onto the WH. But unfortunately as I said these constituents are just plain idiots and will be happy with this kind of nonsense.

      Suffice to see how many of them are asking for an increase in NASA budget when the sequestration is a couple of day away from showing its ugly face…

  • Looking forward to seeing:

    (1) How long it takes Frank Wolf to say something paranoid about China.

    (2) How long it takes Frank Culberson to claim Obama was at the center of a deep dark conspiracy to deny Houston an orbiter.

    (3) How many Democrats show up for this circus. None, hopefully.

    • Watching the hearing now … Wolf’s first paranoid China claim was 20 minutes into the hearing.

    • Wow, the LockMart guy really doesn’t like ISS …

      • common sense

        He supports the NASC/NSC (33:33) as I suggested below!!! Must not be all that bad ;)

      • Coastal Ron

        Stephen C. Smith said:

        Wow, the LockMart guy really doesn’t like ISS …

        They don’t make any money from it, and it competes for funding with the largest contract they have with NASA – the MPCV.

        Boeing, which is the prime contractor for the ISS, and one of the competitors for Commercial Crew, would disagree of course.

        As usual, follow the money…

        • Coastal Ron wrote:

          They don’t make any money from it, and it competes for funding with the largest contract they have with NASA – the MPCV.

          But the LockMart Atlas V will launch both the Boeing CST-100 and the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser to the ISS. So they do have a vested interest in ISS.

          Even so, his comments suggest to me he simply has no clue about the research on the ISS. It takes years of peer review and testing to verify results. The recent announcement that the immunity gene may have been identified thanks to ISS research must have escaped his attention; that research was conducted in 2006. So claiming it’s achieved nothing simply demonstrates cluelessness about the scientific method.

          Or he’s just looking out for his own pork. :-)

          • Coastal Ron

            Stephen C. Smith said:

            But the LockMart Atlas V will launch both the Boeing CST-100 and the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser to the ISS. So they do have a vested interest in ISS.

            However since ULA is a joint venture with Boeing, Lockheed Martin only gets half the profits from the Commercial Crew launches that use Atlas V. And, of course, it puts money in the pocket of their competitor too (Boeing is a partner, but also a competitor to LM), so it’s not a win-win for them.

    • And it wraps up with my Rep. Bill Posey denying the existence of commercial cargo and crew, lamenting that the pork program Constellation didn’t continue forever.

  • Robert G. Oler

    While I agree with DSN that the entire effort seems on the fact to be weak; it is important to recognize “Why” it is being done.

    The entire essence of GOP politics these days is to allow various industries that they like (adn which are becoming non competitive world wide) to hook up to the federal treasury as a customer.

    This is SLS….or Orion. If the federal dollars go away so do these “cost centers” for both Lockmart and Boeing and a few top tier secondaries who really have no other business…

    On the other hand (and something to ponder) if commerical cargo/crew went away I doubt that SpaceX now would shrivel up and go away RGO

    • common sense

      I don’t think this one is for the industry, rather the electors. Or the NASA employees.

      Rather than something useless I think they ought to bring back NASC, or NSC, as promised during the 08 campaign. Just make it relevant to the evolution of space. Such a council would help NASA and the space industry in general, old and new, transition from the old Cold War model to a new commercially focused model http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Space_Council At the same time the council would help give a voice to the “other” stake holders in the space business. And I would of course include aeronautics to the charter, not just HSF or space-y things. They would address budget requirements, a la Augustine approach. They don’t have to convene 24/7 but it would be nice to see a formal process implemented. Talking of Augustine I could see as well an approach by which this council would run town-hall meetings with the public and gather feedback. Etc.

      It’s not that difficult. And it can be done and would not cost gazillions and could possibly save a few billions by not implementing failed approaches.

      FWIW

      • Robert G. Oler

        It actually is time for a massive change…we need to break NASA’s HSF efforts down and spend the money on more useful things…I am thinking on this more later…RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    DSN is DBN…sorry RGO

    • Neil Shipley

      Why would you bother listening to this rot when you can listen to the Inspiration Mars presser? At least those people are serious and respected individuals. Can’t say the same about the constituents in this hearing.

      • Robert G. Oler

        Neil…I was busy this afternoon and couldnt hear the conference but the entire notion of what they are doing “excites” me…its Lindbergh over the Atlantic or Hillary up the Mountain. RGO

  • The entire essence of GOP politics these days is to allow various industries that they like (adn which are becoming non competitive world wide) to hook up to the federal treasury as a customer.

    You mean like green energy? Oh, wait, that was the Obama White House.

    • Robert G. Oler

      <You mean like green energy? Oh, wait, that was the Obama White House."

      the "green energy" efforts by the Obama White House are some of the best money the nation has spent. Yes some of it has failed but a lot of it is succeeding and that very small amount of money is in large measure helping drive the US to real energy independence.

      THESE are no different types (although some differences in porcess) for what the Administration is doing with commercial crew and cargo…

      In both cases the dollars spent on "traditional sources" (SLS/ORION or oil company sources) far outweigh on a yearly basis the totality of the "supplement" being worked through in various mechanisms to "new" systems like SpaceX and several renewable companies.

      The entire amount of money paid in some fashion to SpaceX for commercial cargo and now crew does not equal one year of SLS…if you took all the money in renewables for the entire administration it would not equal the money paid to the "oil" companies…and why they still have subsidies with energy at record prices I dont have a clue. Except that people "on the far right" have bought into the notion that Exxon needs subsidies as much as they have bought into the notion that Boeing needs them for SLS.

      Robert G. Oler

  • Mark R. Whittington

    One great thing this bill would do is to make it harder for an Obama to wreck the space programs started by his predecessor creating a NASA, which the NRC report stipulates, is without direction with a Potempkin humans to an asteroid program that no one believes has any reality.

    • Yep, but not a “great thing”, it would make it harder to stop a disastrous project that would not get anywhere no matter how much money was poured into it. For instance, the Booz-Allen-Hamilton report says SLS will need money beyond its most optimistically projected budget in 3 to 5 years just to continue and the finish date will have to be stretched out year after year. Great for a politician who mainly just wants jobs for his constituents. Bad news if the country wants NASA to do any actual space exploration.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Of course the only direction Bush43′s program had was spending about 3-4 billion a year on programs which were never going to fly. Much like SLS. A GOP poster child . RGO

    • Neil Shipley

      Have you considered that failed programs deserve wrecking? Perhaps you should?

    • Justin Kugler

      Were you listening when Young pointed out that the formation of the proposed board was its key weakness? He explicitly said having the wrong people on the board would be a “disaster,” yet you seem happy to lock NASA into such a system.

    • amightywind

      Agreed. I’m saddened but not surprised that the ruins at NASA aren’t more of a news story.

      • Of course, you agree with Whittington. You both spout the same level of unsubstantiated nonsense. The fact that you, of all people, do so should tell him something about the validity of his position.

      • Robert G. Oler

        Agreed. I’m saddened but not surprised that the ruins at NASA aren’t more of a news story.”

        actually so am I. One has to wonder how the media sat by (both the ordinary media and the professional space/aerospace media) and watched NASA decay in the Bush43 era into amazing torpor and timidity.

        Mike Griffin took an agency that was at least functional and turned it into a sloth machine. Under his watch they spent nearly 10 billion dollars on Cx and you know got nothing. Ares 1X was a joke it cost 3/4 of a trillion dollars and really only demonstrated one thing given enough money “turkeys can fly”

        today we are stuck with SLS/Orion…they dont even have a clue what the structure of SLS looks like, after all these years and Orion which is nothingm ore then a stretch of the Apollo CM is cracking and over mass.

        Why are not you sad? RGO

        • RGO,
          I think you meant 3/4 billion rather than 3/4 trillion.

        • E. P. Grondine

          “One has to wonder how the media sat by (both the ordinary media and the professional space/aerospace media) and watched NASA decay in the Bush43 era into amazing torpor and timidity.”

          Years ago Private Eye compared the DC press corps to a bunch of piglets bellying up to their sow. You have a swinging door there too between the media and the PR offices. Most of them could not investigate their way out of a paper bag.

          If you want anything close to “professional” reporting, you go to Aviation Week, Jane’s, and some other more obscure publications where you have professional reporting. A lot of them are overseas.

          I will except our host, Jeff and a few others (and they know who they are), but all in all the reporting is pretty sad.

      • E. P. Grondine

        Hi AW –

        Let me remind you and Mark once again that we could have had DIRECT and 2 manned launch systems with no interruption of our tech base for the billions Griffin wasted on the Ares 1.

        I too am saddened but not surprised that our press is unable to report the story of how that came about.

    • josh

      hate to break it to you, mark, but constellation was cancelled years ago and is not coming back. this bill won’t change that.

  • Justin Kugler

    The one thing that surprised me was that no one seemed to mention the very NRC Committee on Human Spaceflight that Congress has already chartered to examine HSF programs, plans, and priorities. Its core mission is to address the issues of relevance that everyone in this hearing lamented.

    • Great point, Justin! What few supposedly positive features of the proposed committee are redundant for that very reason. And the drawback mentioned in your previous reply to Whittington shows it to be the cynical political maneuver for retaining pork that it is.

  • Here’s my blog post on yesterday’s hearing:

    “There They Go Again”

    Given Rep. Posey’s notoriously thin skin, I’m counting the minutes until a rebuttal appears attacking me for calling out his lies.

    • yg1968

      Good blog. Contrary to what RGO says, I believe that this is more of a Congress versus the President issue. Constellation had a lot of supporters among the Democrats. Furthermore, a number of Republicans, including Rohrabacher, did not seem very supportive of this bill. But I think that they should rename this bill, the Constellation/SLS Preservation Act. Because that is essentially what it is trying to do.

  • Coastal Ron

    Just watched a portion of the hearing (on Stephen’s blog), and listened to Rep John Culberson say that they want NASA’s programs to be similar to Navy nuclear reactor programs, what he calls the “gold standard”.

    In effect, Culberson, who is a member of the Tea Party caucus of the Republican party, wants to institutionalize all NASA programs – make them non-cancelable. I don’t think he understands how that not only goes against Tea Party principles, but it also goes against the principles of government oversight and good management practices.

    For instance, once a bureaucracy no longer fears the consequences of making bad management decisions (like cancellation), then it loses the motivation to achieve it’s goals within the original program parameters.

    This proposed law would be the death of NASA, and one of the biggest mistakes in government history because of the precedents that it would set. Republicans would also rue the day they pushed for it, since some day it would come back to haunt them.

    In any case, like other pointless things the Republican House does, this is not a priority for the Senate, and unless slipped into some omnibus bill, would not get signed by the President.

  • amightywind

    You’ve got to appreciate congress’s frustration at the lack of program continuity in NASA. But NASA is only as good as its governance. If you elect capacious executive leadership, these are the results.

    Houston, we have a problem…

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “You’ve got to appreciate congress’s frustration at the lack of program continuity in NASA. But NASA is only as good as its governance.”

      This is an idiotic comment. Congress governs NASA. Congress provides (or doesn’t) adequate funding. Congress terminates (or doesn’t) NASA programs, like Ares I and Constellation.

      Congress has only itself to blame. Congress is frustrated with itself.

    • josh

      we know you’re frustrated that constellation got the axe, windy. enjoy your corporate welfare (sls) before it inevitably suffers the same fate.

  • josh

    congress needs to kill sls and boost commercial crew’s budget and stop wasting time on nonsensical pr stunts like this.

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