Congress, NASA

Reactions to NASA’s fiscal year 2014 appropriation

A number of observers were surprised that NASA did as well as it did in the omnibus fiscal year 2014 spending bill, with its overall appropriation of $17.65 billion falling just about $70 million short of the administration’s original request. Although some programs did better than others (space technology, for example, saw its request cut by nearly a quarter in the final fill), the reaction in general to the bill has been positive by the administration, members of Congress, and others.

“Your hard work – and the plan you’ve been working hard to execute – has clearly been acknowledged and recognized under the funding bill unveiled yesterday by Congress,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a message to agency employees Tuesday. The bill, he said, supported the broad portfolio of NASA activities, from the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion to efforts to “formulate” the agency’s proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission (although there was some critical language about the ARM in the report accompanying the bill.) “The message from our nation’s leaders today is simple and straightforward: keep doing what you’re doing to keep the United States the world leader in space.”

Richard DalBello of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy also offered some positive words about NASA’s appropriations in comments at the beginning of panel discussion about space technology policy at the AIAA SciTech 2014 conference outside Washington, DC, Tuesday morning. “We got a NASA budget last night. It looks pretty darn good,” he said, adding that he had not yet had a chance to make a detailed review of the bill’s contents. “A lot of important things seem to have been protected, and that’s positive, because that means we’re on the same page with Congress.”

Some members of Congress appeared to be on the same page in their assessment of the NASA budget. “This is a big win,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said in a statement about the NASA budget Tuesday. His statement specifically noted the nearly $700 million for commercial crew and sufficient funding for the SLS to keep it (or “the monster rocket,” as the statement calls it, a term that Nelson has frequently used for the SLS but which also has been used pejoratively by its critics) “on track.”

Another supporter of the bill’s funding for SLS is Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I am pleased that this legislation includes the funding necessary to continue the great work underway in Huntsville on the Space Launch System,” he said in a statement provided to the Huntsville Times. “If we are to maintain our leadership role in human space flight, we must continue to make SLS a priority in NASA’s budget. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that.”

The uptick in spending for NASA’s planetary science program also generated praise from another member of Congress. “I am pleased that the spending bill contains strong funding for the continued development of the Mars 2020 rover and for a mission to Jupiter and its moon Europa,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in a statement. “I hope that this will dissuade the Administration from putting forward a 2015 budget that again seeks to cut funding for NASA’s pathbreaking exploration of our solar system.” However, he adds in the statement that he’s heard “disquieting rumors” that the fiscal year 2015 budget proposal will include such cuts, including “possible delays to the next two Mars missions and shutting down some current missions.” That last comment appears to be a reference to the agency’s upcoming “Senior Review” of ongoing planetary science missions, and concerns that there won’t be enough money to keep all of those missions, especially Cassini, operating after 2014.

The Planetary Society also endorsed the funding for planetary science in the bill, although lamenting that the $1.345 billion provided still falls below the $1.5 billion the program enjoyed back in 2012. It particularly supported the $80 million specifically earmarked in the bill for studies of a potential Europa mission, funding not requested by the administration. “Exploring Europa is no longer a ‘should’ but a ‘must,’” the society’s Casey Dreier said in the statement. “The White House should embrace this bold search for life and request a new start for this mission in FY2015.”

In a separate blog post, The Planetary Society also called attention to language in the report accompanying the bill about NASA’s “reprogramming and transfer authorities” that the agency uses to redirect funding among programs. Those authorities, the report states, “exist so that NASA can respond to unexpected, exigent circumstances that may arise during the fiscal year, not so that NASA can pursue its internal priorities at the expense of congressional direction. If NASA persists in abusing its reprogramming and transfer authorities, those authorities will be eliminated in future appropriations acts.” The Planetary Society saw that as a rebuke to NASA’s efforts in 2013 to redirect, through its operating plan, additional funds allocated by Congress for planetary science to other programs, an effort Congress rejected.

38 comments to Reactions to NASA’s fiscal year 2014 appropriation

  • amightywind

    I share good Senator Shelby’s sentiments. It looks like America may actually have a “monster rocket” successor for Apollo and the Space Shuttle.

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      And this is a good thing because…?

      • amightywind

        It lets us essentially resume Project Constellation after the national calamity that has been democrat control of government. The program had widespread bipartisan support back in 2005.

        • Matt McClanahan

          No, it does not. Constellation, unlike SLS/Orion, actually had a mission defined, along with (and this is kind of important) mission hardware, the Altair lander. Until an actual mission for SLS/Orion is defined and funded (also kind of important) SLS/Orion isn’t resuming anything except flybys.

          • amightywind

            When a launcher and spacecraft are in place the pressure to develop a lander will be irresistible. The camel must get his nose under the tent first before he can crawl inside.

            • Hiram

              “The camel must get his nose under the tent first before he can crawl inside.”

              I think the fundamental presumption here, and by the other SLS cheerleaders, is that once SLS and Orion are developed, Congress will be compelled (pressured?) to raise NASA’s budget significantly to fund another expensive piece of hardware. That’s worth dreaming about, but seems to me to be quite unrealistic in the current fiscal environment. A camel has a whole lot to do in life without crawling into a tent, but the problem with SLS is that it desperately needs a tent to crawl into.

              One can pretend that the budget money for a lunar lander will come from quitting ISS, but I find it wholly implausible that the United States will concede its participation in ISS in order to fund an eventual lunar lander, basically relegating our nation to being a maybe-occasional participant in human space flight. That’s a lot worse than the capability “gap” of launching astronauts we’re in right now. Our astronauts on station right now carry the U.S. flag in space continuously.

            • Vladislaw

              What is so hilarious is windy TOTALLY used that metafor the wrong way. The camel’s nose is commercial space, not a stalinist big government program. America is about capitalism windasovich.

              The camel has pushed his nose into the government run monopoly when commercial cargo was started, the camel’s first hump pushed into the tent with commercial crew and the camel’s second hump is pushing into the tent with commercial space stations.

              VERY SOON the camel is going to be not only IN the tent, the camel will actually own the tent.

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “When a launcher and spacecraft are in place the pressure to develop a lander will be irresistible.”

              Yeah, that worked out so well for Altair. Spend half a decade and ten-plus billion dollars on a launcher and capsule and maybe there will be enough left over for one lander study before the whole thing is terminated.

              We have launchers that can put human-scale landers on the Moon today. If we want to go back to the Moon, then we should go back to the Moon, not fool around with unneeded ETO launch systems.
              The political process and budget don’t tolerate that level of waste over changes in Administration.

          • @Matt McClanahan,….. Absolutely correct observation! Constellation had a definite game plan AND a specific destination. This SLS jazz has NONE of that!! Building a vague design for a Heavy Lift rocket, without any input or consideration as to what it will carry, is setting NASA up for the project cancellation fall. Why hasn’t there been even a single computer animation graphic, showing in a video format just how the SLS is planned to be used for a human space project? How in the world does it connect with the proposed-to-be-manned Orion? Wasn’t the Orion craft supposed to be launched separately with a smaller rocket? What specific modules and/or earth escape rocket stage is the SLS intended to carry, and for what mission?? The future of Heavy Lift looks way too hazy, once a human Lunar mission is taken out of the picture——and this was Obama’s fault! Better political leadership & wiser statesmen at the helm, could have saved us all from this messy, space program imbroglio, of NASA moving full speed ahead on a new mission that it doesn’t even understand yet!
            Plus, the decision to extend the ISS all the way thru the 2020′s is a cowardly road map to stagnation!! It just codifies the same old boring & bland business-as-usual, with regard to human spaceflight.

            • Coastal Ron

              Chris Castro said:

              This SLS jazz has NONE of that!! Building a vague design for a Heavy Lift rocket, without any input or consideration as to what it will carry, is setting NASA up for the project cancellation fall.

              Why would the few in Congress that mandated that NASA build the SLS do that?

              Could it be because they are more interested in jobs in their states and districts than human space exploration? How unusual would that be?

              Why hasn’t there been even a single computer animation graphic, showing in a video format just how the SLS is planned to be used for a human space project?

              Unfortunately there have been far too many of them already, but apparently you haven’t seen them. That’s OK, since they are all fake views of the future anyways – nothing to see, move along, move along…

              What specific modules and/or earth escape rocket stage is the SLS intended to carry, and for what mission?

              Yes, whatever happened to the budget for all that stuff? Oh yeah, it was zero’d out so that an unneeded and too-expensive to use HLV could enrich a few corporations with people mostly in a few states. How odd, huh?

              Plus, the decision to extend the ISS all the way thru the 2020′s is a cowardly road map to stagnation!

              Only thru 2024 Chris, although it will likely be extended through at least 2028 by the time the next President does a review of it.

              Still, you apparently have no idea what the ISS is doing, do you? Does being able to learn how to live and work in space mean nothing to you? To learn how to create durable technology solutions that can be used for future missions? To put in place the knowledge we’ll need to go anywhere beyond LEO?

              It is amazing to me that after all this time that you really have no idea how hard it is to send humans out into space. Seems like you have a death wish for some poor souls in the future, where you want them to rush out without being prepared. I’m glad you’re not in charge of anything important…

              • @Coastal Ron;…..Har-dee-har-har!!! The ISS is an all-out mega-WASTE of resources & government budget money!!! Living & working in DEEP space should be the real name of the game, here——and Project Apollo went a long way to proving the preliminary viability of all that, some forty-one years ago. What is needed now, is an expansion of the same capabilities, magnified to permit multi-week & multi-month manned operations on the Moon, and in the Lunar vicinity. That is, more stronger & durable space suits, mechanical systems for managing the troublesome regolith dust in the lander cabins, radiation protection systems, and electric power generation that could endure thru the two-week Lunar night. All these things will never come to pass, as long as we remain hovering in LEO! The ISS program has been enormous dead-weight to NASA, and an onerous obstacle to its future deep space ambitions.

              • Hiram

                “Living & working in DEEP space should be the real name of the game, here …”

                Let’s be careful here. Congress and the Administration have never said that. You’re saying that. Living & working in DEEP space has never been established as a national priority.

                Now, the 2010 NASA Auth bill did establish a long-term goal of permanent presence beyond LEO (which is not exactly “living”, since that presence isn’t supposed to be with individuals who stay there permanently).

                But the “Key Objectives” in that legislation were to (1)”sustain the capability for long-duration presence in low-Earth orbit” and (2)”determine if humans can live in an extended manner in space with decreasing reliance on Earth, starting with utilization of low-Earth orbit infrastructure.”

                So THAT’S the name of the game, and that’s precisely what we’re doing right now with ISS. I think it’ll be hard to convince Congress that it’s a mega-waste of resources & government budget money because it’s doing exactly what Congress wants it to do.

                So at least when you’re naming the game, you’re telling us what you think it should be, rather than what you think it actually is.

              • Coastal Ron

                Chris Castro said:

                Living & working in DEEP space should be the real name of the game, here——and Project Apollo went a long way to proving the preliminary viability of all that, some forty-one years ago.

                Oh to be so ignorant.

                The longest Apollo mission was about two weeks long, and did not attempt to answer any of the questions concerning how to keep humans alive in space (DEEP or otherwise) for durations longer than two weeks. We ain’t goin’ far in two weeks, and certainly not to “DEEP space”.

                The research on the ISS has focused since day one on how long-term weightlessness affects the human body, and BECAUSE we have the ability to do tests on humans over long periods of time, scientists have been able to find ways to mitigate the effects of zero-G on the human body enough that they are going to be testing out what happens when humans stay in space for one year.

                You can’t do that kind of deliberative and repeatable science when you rush off on a DEEP space mission with one-off equipment that have never been validated in actual use.

                What is needed now, is an expansion of the same capabilities, magnified to permit multi-week & multi-month manned operations on the Moon, and in the Lunar vicinity.

                Hate to break it to you, but “the Moon, and in the Lunar vicinity” are NOT DEEP space. The Moon endlessly circles the Earth, round and round. Certainly not in the region of what we call “Low Earth Orbit”, but certainly “Earth Orbit”. The Moon is LOCAL space.

                The ISS program has been enormous dead-weight to NASA, and an onerous obstacle to its future deep space ambitions.

                Yep, oh to be so ignorant…

            • Hiram

              “Constellation had a definite game plan AND a specific destination. This SLS jazz has NONE of that!!”

              But what they share is fiscal unreality.

              “Building a vague design for a Heavy Lift rocket, without any input or consideration as to what it will carry, is setting NASA up for the project cancellation fall. Why hasn’t there been even a single computer animation graphic, showing in a video format just how the SLS is planned to be used for a human space project?”

              Precisely right. And the answer is … drum roll … because it’s not about actually accomplishing things. It’s about making payroll happen in the aerospace industry. Of course, the SLS proponents will keep the fall from happening. Their presumption is that SLS just needs to show incremental progress, and they need make lot of handwaving promises about what it could do if ever actually built. The Apollo-legacy human space flight community worships those promises. That’s enough to keep the cash flowing and the payroll cranking. It is pretty impressive that those promises need not even include memorable computer animation graphics of SLS launching people!!! (Obligatory exclamation marks inserted here.)

              • @Hiram;…..I have seen NO animation graphic film-let depicting just how the proposed SLS connects with or has to do with the Orion spacecraft. Project Constellation had the Orion launched separately on a lighter, smaller rocket, for an in-space rendezvous, above Earth, with the designated-for-deep-space modules that the Heavy Lift Ares 5 was ferrying. Just what is the supposed intermediate flight-plan now? Does the manned Orion sit atop the gigantic SLS, in the same way as the Apollo did atop the Saturn 5? Will there be additional modules and/or LEO-departure stages included with each flight, below? Is there to be an in-space transposition & docking procedure, with the added spacecraft elements, once the mission is underway? I have seen no detailed flight-plan arrangements, so far, depicting exactly how Orion/SLS is supposed to work. Again, if America wouldn’t have had such an ignorant & naive President, in the first place, to derail the would-have-been human return to the Moon, back in 2010, none of this ignominy would be now occuring!

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “I have seen NO animation graphic film-let depicting just how the proposed SLS connects with or has to do with the Orion spacecraft.”

                Oh for crying out loud. How ignorant can you be?

                “VAB integration between SLS and Orion outlined by SPIO”

                http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/12/vab-integration-sls-orion-outlined-by-spio/

                Cripes…

              • Hiram

                “Again, if America wouldn’t have had such an ignorant & naive President, in the first place, to derail the would-have-been human return to the Moon, back in 2010, none of this ignominy would be now occuring!”

                Oh give us a break. What you’re talking about is a would-not-have-been human return to the Moon. That’s what was cancelled. As to how Orion/SLS is supposed to work, it should be taken into account that SLS wasn’t the idea of this “ignorant and naive” president. It was the result of an ignorant and naive Congress that foisted SLS on the taxpayer. Let Congress produce their own animations about what they had in mind.

                I did refer to “memorable” animations, since it is clear that at least someone can’t seem to remember any.

                “Does the manned Orion sit atop the gigantic SLS, in the same way as the Apollo did atop the Saturn 5?”

                Duh, no, they strap it to the side.

              • Vladislaw

                SLS videos

                WOW, can’t even do a simple search and he believes he has the answers for pushing humans into deep space… whew…

                What is that called Hubris?

              • Hiram

                “WOW, can’t even do a simple search and he believes he has the answers for pushing humans into deep space.”

                Lord almighty, they DON’T strap the Orion to the side of the SLS! They put it on top, just like with Apollo! Who would have known!? Yep, that’s one answer for pushing humans into deep space. Don’t strap it onto the side.

      • numbers_guy101

        …because some people can’t see outside the big box…

    • Vladislaw

      Ya and it will be called the Falcon Heavy, because it will actually fly.

    • Coastal Ron

      amightywind said:

      It looks like America may actually have a “monster rocket” successor for Apollo and the Space Shuttle.

      First of all “monsters” are generally viewed as destructive and not good for humans, so it’s pretty apt that you use that moniker.

      Secondly, at this point Delta IV Heavy would actually be the real successor, since it is currently the U.S. heavy lift champ. What you think will happen is that somehow the U.S. Government will stop using the reliable launch system it already has to use one that is not only too big and too expensive to use on a regular basis, but won’t have enough flight history to prove it’s reliable for at least another decade or more.

      As of now, in this moment in history, no one is clamoring to use the SLS. No one with money enough to actually use the SLS that is.

      Just as the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle have been converted to museum pieces, so will the SLS – likely before it ever flies.

    • Hiram

      “monster rocket”

      So very true. It’s a policy monster, a fiscal monster, and a planning monster. It’s an absolutely monstrous idea. Shelby wants to be proud of what will be a monstrosity.

    • numbers_guy101

      You left out in the part about the monster rocket that it is an UNAFFORDABLE, hugely expensive monster rocket! Details, nuances, minor nits, yes…I know. Seems that’s the little thingy every SLS defender conveniently leaves out as they extoll the virtues of a return to the Apollo glory days.

      SLS is proving hugely expensive to develop, with every number indicating that it will be hugely expensive to fly, and hugely expensive just to keep around year after year, even when it does not fly. This UNAFFORDABLE big box sucks the life out of NASA budgets for what might go in the box, or for that matter, for any use of the box at all.

      Lunar Landers may be an “irresistible” development once the camel has it’s nose under the tent, but that assumes that the money will be there for that temptation – which is unlikely, as both SLS and Orion suck up budget. There will have to be a large upper stage, and all that too, to make use of any Lander, and by the time you know it here we are with an expensive (but politically well defended) big rocket, and dribs and drabs of what’s left over in the budget to do such stuff as what might go in the monster. The resulting rate of progress will for all practical purposes be so long as to be absolutely ridiculous, and unsustainable.

      To those who might start pondering an end of the ISS (and salivating at the thought of all that cargo and crew, and ISS R&D money!) – do the math. Get real. Given the inefficiency of the SLS and Orion programs, and the passage of time as these dig in, do you honestly think that sometime in the late 2020′s (post ISS-end, with lots of uncertainty) the programs that would make large upper stages, or Lunar Landers, would be any more efficient than their cousins? That such elements would take the freed up ISS funds and make any progress in any reasonable amount of time in any repeatable, sustainable way? Keep dreaming.

      Because that’s what SLS and Orion are really developing – not hardware, but rather the continued, growing institutionalization of hugely UNAFFORDABLE inefficiencies, processes and thinking, that will be passed along to any future programs like Landers.

      Add it up guys. Lay it out over time. SLS and Orion are monsters for our nightmares, not our rockets.

  • Ben

    I’m not sure there is anything to be happy about as far as this budget is concerned. At best this budget is a sigh of relief. Also, NASA did pretty well all things considering but overall the problem still remains. NASA’s budget adjusted for inflation has continued to go down the past two decades with some fluctuation.

    Maybe finally we’ve hit as low as we can go and hopefully that means it goes up from here but I’m not going to hold my breath.

    Its insane though, that we’re asking more of NASA than ever before and yet unwilling to give them even a measly 0.8 percent a year.

    I know there have been boondoggles, and NASA has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars over its history. The biggest reason that continues to be so because of a failure of a clear vision. Everyone agrees that NASA is worth while funding, only a small percentage of Americans believe that means NASA should get more money.

    This despite the fact that if you don’t give NASA a steady budget, its going to be very difficult for them to do what you tell them to do. Worse, that costs you money in the end. You may think you’re saving money, but unless you agree for example that SLS is not worth funding you spend billions on it before its cancelled down the road.

    The President/Congress are afraid of making sure that NASA have a clear vision. Mostly because that will give a clear vision of how much its going to cost. Nobody wants to stick their neck out for a mission to Mars, so we’ve instead said we’ll MAYBE go to Mars some day down the road but meanwhile we’ll build a big rocket that we may or may not ever use.

    Even though at least a mission to Mars will end with a mission to Mars and all the technology that is developed as a result of it. Funding a huge rocket, with no clear road map in mind may lead to a whole lot of notta or disappointment.

    If you build it we will find a use for it is the mindset. That has been the biggest problem with the manned space program the past 40 plus years.

    If you build shuttle, we’ll find a use for it. Its reusable so that’ll bring costs down, especially if we launch 50 times a year!

    If you build ISS, it’ll be a money making venture because crystals in space!

    A lack of vision is costly.

    • Hiram

      “The President/Congress are afraid of making sure that NASA have a clear vision.”

      That’s an interesting perspective, and one that’s probably exactly right. A clear vision not only generates clear costs and an obligation to them, but it also generates a clear plan that is responsive to NASA goals. SLS is a great example of what happens when you don’t have a clear plan. Congress can mandate a launcher that we don’t know what it’s for, except to prop up job numbers and district funding. Those are Congressional goals, but not NASA goals.

      But the if-you-build-it-we’ll-find-a-use-for-it mindset extends to the destination-driven fallacy. We should go back to the Moon, we are told, so that once we get there we can figure out why we went.

    • Vladislaw

      Actually Ben the fault lies with President Kennedy and President Johnson. We are fighting the communists and President Kennedy wants to prove to the world that Stalinist, big government control and communism was bad and Democratic capitalism was better. Unfortunatly he used a Stalinist big government program to prove capitalism was better.

      We are still saddled with and paying for that mistake. In order to get the funding for Apollo literally every state and district had to get some sort of slice of the pie in order to get the votes.

      Even total you can go onto the NASA website and look at Orion/MPCV where NASA PROUDLY displays how 40 states are working on the disposable capsule. Musk built his in one factory, not 400 factories spread across 40 states.

      Any program proposed by NASA has to go through the Congressional sausage making machine. How can this project be divided up to create the MAXIMUM amount of jobs in the MAXIMUM amount of states/districts in order to get the funding.

      Under this umbrella it is impossible for NASA to do small, fast, cheap, et cetera. The pork premium is now so high, congress is literally pricing NASA out of the game.

      • Mader Levap

        I’m afraid I cannot agree with this “mistake”. There were BIG differences between USA companies contracted to do Apollo and what was in Soviet Russia. And “NewSpace” did not existed yet, so it was impossible to do this by independent commercial entity or entities.

        This “literally every state and district had to get some sort of slice of the pie” (in other words, porkage) is different issue.

        Of course, now USA can do better. Will do? Only after exhausting every other possibility, as old saying goes.

    • Explorer08

      You said: “Mostly because that will give a clear vision of how much its going to cost.”

      You give Congress way too much credit. They don’t have a clear vision because they are incapable of developing a clear vision on ANY topic whatsoever.

  • Dark Blue Nine

    “space technology, for example, saw its request cut by nearly a quarter in the final bill”

    The space technology program has been so poorly managed and incapable of following its own priorities or just finishing the projects on its plate that it should have been cut more. At this point, I’d dissolve the directorate, put the low-TRL projects directly under the Chief Technologist’s management, and return the mid- and high-TRL funds to the mission directorates. NASA has long needed a strong space technology development organization independent of the mission directorates, but this group of confused second-raters eating their own field centers’ cooking ain’t it.

    Of course, I’m sure the cut had nothing to do with the efficacy of the space technology program and had everything to do with the number of jobs/votes involved relative to other “investments” certain congressmen could make at NASA.

    • Andrew Swallow

      Space technology – put the wheeled version of the MMSEV rover on the heavy version of the Morpheus lander and we have a manned lunar lander. To man rate it the MMSEV will need full life support.

    • Hiram

      “NASA has long needed a strong space technology development organization independent of the mission directorates”

      Remember Code R and Code U? The problem with them was that what they were working on wasn’t all that relevant to what the mission directorates needed. But that was before the Chief Technologist was around to coordinate. Might work better now, at least for the low TRL items.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “Remember Code R and Code U? The problem with them was that what they were working on wasn’t all that relevant to what the mission directorates needed.”

        Code U was microgravity and life sciences research, not really a technology org. But I do remember Code R. Sam Venneri’s biggest problem was that he couldn’t put anything concrete on paper, regardless of whether it was relevant to what the mission orgs needed. (But it wasn’t.)

        “But that was before the Chief Technologist was around to coordinate. Might work better now”

        Venneri was Chief Technologist so the title alone doesn’t help. It’s hard to find a technologist interested in meeting others needs and not his own sandboxes.

        The problem with the current STMD leadership is that they can’t follow their own priorities and they can’t execute. Their own decadal told them to fly a industry cryo mgmt demo and an ASRG. They’re off doing solar sails and green propellants and engineered microorganisms instead. And the things they are doing consistent with their decadal priorities, like long-range optical comm, have slipped years.

        How hard is it to follow a list? How hard is it to fly a simple mini-/microspacecraft mission or a hosted payload with a single new piece of hardware?

        For these nincompoops, it’s almost impossible. They even cancelled their own nanosat launch prize. All they had to do was not touch a couple million bucks for a few years and they couldn’t even do that.

        Crazy incompetence.

        “at least for the low TRL items.”

        My comments are on the mid- and high-TRL. The low TRL stuff is easy to manage regardless of where it’s located. Grants for studies and students and buying suborbital rides for other people’s payloads don’t take much in terms of following priorities and execution.

        • Hiram

          That’s correct. My reference to Code U was not with regard to technology, but with regard to mission needs.

          Indeed, Sam Venneri had the formal title of Chief Technologist, but his spirit of coordination was quite different than what we have now. We now at least have a strategic plan for NASA technology, reviewed by the NRC. Sam funded whatever sounded good to him. His strategic plan was in his head. Maybe I should have said that at least theoretically, we now have a Chief Technologist who approaches the job on the basis of well-culled opportunities. Now, they could be doing a better job of that, but at least there are rules they’ve been asked to follow.

    • common sense

      As long as technology is driven by political decision such as SLS/MPCV there will be no way for a Space Technology Directorate to be effective and receive support of the other directorates. SLS and MPCV by definition do not require any advanced technology. The technology required for these 2 programs already exists and, worse, F9/Dragon is already way, way ahead of those 2 programs which will make them soon irrelevant. The aberration of it all is that it makes those efforts by the other directorates supporting SLS/MPCV irrelevant too…

  • FakeMikeGriffin

    So it seems that none of you actually read the FY 2014 appropriations bill, specifically page 161, lines 24-25 and continued on page 162, lines 1-9.

    If any of you had read the actual House appropriations bill, you would know that the funding for CCP is $525M. Yes, $696M is appropriated. But of that amount, $171M will be available only after a C-B analysis on CCP vs. ISS lifespan.

    Last question for all of you; given that the appropriators have never been big fans of the commercial, and that’s a very loose definition of the word, space efforts, why do you think they put that condition in? Here’s a hint; it wasn’t to ratify the merits of the commercial (there’s that misused word again) space efforts but to give Bolden just enough rope to help hang it.

    If ISS will remain in orbit only until 2024, and commercial space flights will not begin until 2019, does a 5-year period of supporting crew transport to and from ISS justify an additional $2B, and based on what we saw with COTS very likely more, in development funds to commercial space vendors, never mind the actual funds needed for those transportation services, when the cost of such flights with the Russians is less? And the answer is, obviously not.

    Of course, the real question is whether NASA Administrator Bolden will actually form a group that will answer that question.

    That additional $171M will come at a high cost.

    Many of you celebrated when Constellation, after years of annual funding shortfalls caused delays, was canceled. I imagine very few of you who are fanboys of the supposed commercial space efforts would realize that not 6 years later you would see your own cherished efforts facing the same fate of funding delays leading to a programmatic justification for termination. You are so close, so very, very close. And soon, maybe “commercial” space will be forced to go and seek out investors and begin to act like a real commercial endeavor.

    • Coastal Ron

      FakeMikeGriffin said:

      If any of you had read the actual House appropriations bill, …$171M will be available only after a C-B analysis on CCP vs. ISS lifespan.

      I knew that, and I didn’t even have to read the bill. It’s been in the news. And since the merits of Commercial Crew are very easy to understand and quantify, I’m not concerned about it.

      Last question for all of you; given that the appropriators have never been big fans of the commercial, and that’s a very loose definition of the word, space efforts, why do you think they put that condition in?

      Old ways die hard. There are those that think only NASA can do things in space. They are wrong of course, but for good or bad reasons, they haven’t come around.

      If ISS will remain in orbit only until 2024, and commercial space flights will not begin until 2019…

      SpaceX has stated that they will be ready in 2017, and since they plan a company test flight with humans next year (i.e. 2015), they seem like they are on track, or even ahead of schedule.

      …does a 5-year period of supporting crew transport to and from ISS justify an additional $2B…

      Yes, the 7-year span of anticipated crew transportation service for the ISS merits full Commercial Crew funding so we can stop sending money to Russian and instead create a U.S. based crew transportation service industry that will far exceed what Russia and China can provide. You don’t think that’s a good idea?

      Many of you celebrated when Constellation, after years of annual funding shortfalls caused delays, was canceled.

      No, I celebrated when a bi-partisan Congress cancelled a program that was severely behind schedule, and would have consumed far more money than was promised by the Real Mike Griffin. And that can initially be blamed on Griffin too, since he is the one that forced NASA to use the unsupportable Ares I/V design instead of using existing and upgraded commercial launchers.

      I imagine very few of you who are fanboys of the supposed commercial space efforts would realize that not 6 years later you would see your own cherished efforts facing the same fate of funding delays leading to a programmatic justification for termination.

      Of course in the case of Commercial Crew, which only pays for milestones that produce value, and not for being late, the program can never be “over budget”. That’s the difference between public/private programs like Commercial Crew and standard Cost-Plus contracts that go Constellation in so much trouble.

      I’m not sure you made any of the points you were trying to make.

    • Vladislaw

      The fake wrote:

      “If ISS will remain in orbit only until 2024, and commercial space flights will not begin until 2019, ”

      If you are going to lie, and spread propaganda you should do the BIG LIE.

      Since you are obviously a psyhic and can see into the future can you tell me on what date the decision will be made to not extend the ISS past 2024?

      Can you also please give me the date that SpaceX publically announces they are not going to launch a human test flight in 2015 and will not beable to do a human launch until 2019?

      “given that the appropriators have never been big fans of the commercial, ”

      They have given to Commercial crew
      50 million
      250 million
      406 million
      550 million
      696 million

      Can you tell me if appropriators are not fans of commercial why do they keep INCREASING the commercial funding?

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