Congress, Lobbying, NASA

Commercial space advocates rally against Senate report language

Next week, the Senate is expected to take up the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved earlier this month. The CJS bill may be combined with two other appropriations bills in a “minibus” on the Senate floor.

What has attracted the most attention about the bill is not its funding levels but language in the report accompanying the bill that would require “certified cost and pricing data” from commercial crew and cargo providers. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) said the language provided needed “transparency” for those contracts. “I believe we must ensure that the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollar, and I believe the language here will help make that happen,” he said in a markup of the CJS bill earlier this month.

Commercial space advocates see something different. “We believe this is actually about control,” claims the Space Access Society in a policy alert earlier this week. “Specifically, about bringing control over all NASA space transportation development back to the Alabama-based NASA old guard faction that’s running SLS, about bringing control over all NASA space transportation funding back under Senator Shelby’s thumb, and also about maintaining his control over Defense space transportation funding.”

The argument the Space Access Society and other space advocates make is that requiring certified cost and pricing data,” a provision usually reserved for cost-plus contracts, is inappropriate for the fixed-price contracts that are being used or contemplated for commercial cargo and crew. The organization earlier claimed that shifting to “cost-plus contract-type accounting controls on a commercial-style operation increases costs from 50% to 200%.”

Another pro-commercial space organization, the Space Frontier Foundation, also has expressed its concern about the report language. “These rules are designed to protect the old, traditional system that has kept us from doing anything exciting with humans in space for decades – and will slam shut the door to space for decades more if allowed to become law,” said Foundation co-founder Rick Tumlinson in a press release earlier this week, referring to the report language. “If we ever want to return to the Moon, go to Mars, mine asteroids, or even be able to afford to get to and from our own space station, this language must be removed from the congressional bills right away.”

While the CJS bill will be debated next week, either alone or as part of a minibus, any resolution to what these advocates consider to be unfavorable language may take longer to resolve. The report language, which is not part of the bill itself, will likely not be debated on the Senate floor, although there may be changes behind-the-scenes. And, the CJS bill and report that do pass will have to be reconciled with the version the House passed late last month. The report tied to the House bill does not include the certified cost language, but does direct NASA to downselect to a single commercial crew company in the competition’s next round.

49 comments to Commercial space advocates rally against Senate report language

  • amightywind

    The Space Access Society and their ilk want to keep the good times rolling, all while the years pass and commercial services become less valuable by the day. Down select to one properly funded bid should have happened 4 years ago. The outrage should be over NASA’s politicized management of the project.

    • Henry Vanderbilt

      Keep the good times rolling? My. What color is the sky on the planet where les bontemps rollez for newspace and all involved, and halfway-affordable commercial services are getting less rather than more valuable?

      You’re right, though – if they’d downselected to one “properly funded” Commercial Crew bid four years ago and run it the proper NASA-managed cost-plus way, they’d have made just as much progress as SLS has from the same start!

      Oh wait, that’s SLS that for two billion a year still hasn’t hit CDR.

      Sorry, Windy, try as I might, I just can’t visualize your imaginary planet properly. Maybe you should do a Kickstarter to get funding for ILM to animate it…

      • Because funding has bee spread so thin CCDev will have taken more than 10 years before anyone ever attempts. That is too slow, considering its mission (ISS) will evaporate in 2020. These entrepreneurs we supposed to be fast.

        • Coastal Ron

          amightywind said:

          Because funding has bee spread so thin CCDev will have taken more than 10 years before anyone ever attempts.

          If NASA’s original requests would have been funded we might have only taken 5 years from contract award to first test flight with crew, but even so we are on track to do that in 6-7 years, not 10.

          That is too slow…

          As we’ve been saying, but you weren’t listening. Instead you preferred to send money to Putin in Russia…

          These entrepreneurs we supposed to be fast.

          Dependent on the funding levels. Since Congress did not fully fund the program, it’s understandable why the fastest possible schedule was not able to be achieved. Causality my friend.

        • Michael Kent

          Commercial Crew started in 2010 and aims to have its first manned flight in 2017, a period of seven years.

          The Orion contract was let in 2006. Despite getting on average twice the annual budget of Commercial Crew, the Orion program aims to have its first flight in 2021, a period of 15 years.

          Commercial Crew: Better, faster, and cheaper.

    • Hiram

      “The Space Access Society and their ilk want to keep the good times rolling, all while the years pass and commercial services become less valuable by the day.”

      ULA and their ilk want to keep the good times rolling, all while the years pass and commercial services become more valuable by the day. You really were trying to avoid saying that, right? Of course, Shelby envisions commercial use of his beloved SLS, so he’ll push hard to get SpaceX out of the way. We need only one HLV, folks, and it’s agunna come out of Alabama!

      Downselect at this early stage discincentivizes precisely what commercial space is supposed to incentivize, which is competition. It’s not about developing a launcher. It’s about developing an industry.

    • Explorer08

      Are you a great-grandpa?

  • James

    Does anyone know what General Bolden/NASA, and the White House have to say about this language?

  • Started harassing Feinstein the first day, and then later to see Shelby’s stupidity removed during the reconciliation with the House.

    Long run US will want Spacex and Sierra Nevada both, although Dream Chaser is as likely to end up on a Spacex launch vehicle anyway.

    Also note, Cantor’s new replacement, as a free-market do or die type, is not likely to favor commercial anything.

    • Coastal Ron

      sftommy said:

      Also note, Cantor’s new replacement, as a free-market do or die type, is not likely to favor commercial anything.

      Kevin McCarthy from California, who is the leading candidate to succeed Cantor, has in his district the Mojave spaceport with Virgin Galactic, Stratolaunch, etc., and is reported to be very informed regarding sub-orbital issues.

      Considering how little others in Congress know about space issues, including a number of Congresscritters that actually serve on NASA related committees, I think McCarthy would be very supportive of commercial space efforts.

      Of course being House Majority Leader he would not be in a position to work on the minutia in bills, but maybe he can influence the general direction from the top down.

  • Henry Vanderbilt

    And while I’m momentarily diplomatically challenged, I am profoundly happy – profoundly! – that my estimable colleagues have seen fit to join in nine days later, and that they have even corrected their original release to point to the Senate rather than House.

    I have to go chop weeds in hundred-degree sun now. I’m sure I’ll be in a much better mood when I’m done…

  • Henry Vanderbilt

    And yes, our estimable host is entirely correct that report language isn’t generally a matter for Senate floor amendments, and our best hope for now is that if enough Senators decide they dislike Shelby’s turf grab the language may just quietly vanish from the Report. Ditto for the House’s “there can be only one” provision.

    • Hiram

      More to the point, the bill becomes law. Report language doesn’t. NASA frequently ignores Congressional demands made in report language, though they have to do so carefully, with an eye to political implications. That is, no one is going to get thrown in jail if Shelby’s CCPD demands are ignored, but the agency has to assess the impact of pissing him off.

  • I hadn’t realized that the Shelby amendment was report language. That makes me feel a little better.

    • Neil

      Could someone please advise what ‘report’ language is?
      Thanks

      • Egad

        Could someone please advise what ‘report’ language is?

        See http://congressionalresearch.com/98-558/document.php

        As Hiram says, NASA (and other Executive Branch entities) not infrequently ignore, slow roll or creatively interpret directives found in report language. Whether they get away with that, and they often do, depends on how much effort the Congress is willing to put into the matter subsequently.

      • Henry Vanderbilt

        When the Senate or House committees produce an Appropriations bill, the bill itself tends to cover only major categories of spending. The committee will typically also write an “accompanying Report” to the bill that goes into a lot more detail about specific project spending levels and about policy directives and restrictions.

        These Reports are not officially law, but they have to be taken seriously in direct proportion to the clout and seriousness of whoever got a particular instruction included.

        In this case, Senator Shelby is the Ranking Minority member of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, which means he becomes the Committee Chair should the Republicans gain the majority. IE, on a clout scale of 1 to 10, he’s a 9, and potentially one election away from a 10.

        And he’s been going on the record repeatedly that he thinks this should be done (including the press release that tipped us off) so he’s well above average in seriousness too.

        There is in fact a lot at stake – control over billions of dollars of space launch funding, and the overall future direction of US government space launch procurement. As “report language” goes, on a scale from the Geico gecko to Godzilla, this is way far toward the Tokyo-stomping end of things.

    • Henry Vanderbilt

      All we had to go on until well into the following week was Shelby’s press release, as the actual bill text still hadn’t been published. I’ve seen over the years that the Senate is often quite leisurely about such things. It seemed prudent to take the Senator at his word and not wait a week.

      Once it was clear it’s in the report, not the main bill, well, as Hiram points out, agencies have to be very careful about ignoring report language – in this case, where a senior Appropriator has pressed the point specifically and repeatedly, *very* careful.

      Getting Shelby’s colleagues to generate counter-pressure is essential to either getting the language explicitly removed at some point, or failing that to give NASA sufficient future political cover to get away with ignoring the provision.

      In other words, don’t feel too much better that this is “only” report language. Given the circumstances there’s not a lot of practical difference in either the potential harm, or in what we need to do to prevent it.

      • Hiram

        That’s correct. Report language expresses a “sense of Congress” that is not legally binding. If Shelby’s colleagues don’t back him up firmly on these words of his, NASA can find ways to spin itself free of them, perhaps by pointing to efforts that can be seen as acting in the “spirit of the request”, if not the text of the request. As in, “Thank you for your important concern, Mr. Shelby. Here is what we’re going to do to make it right!” When NASA doesn’t abide by these report language clauses explicitly, and Shelby has a “WE TOLD YOU!!!” jumping-up-and-down fit, the “WE” better be standing right beside him. I suspect they won’t, and Shelby probably knows that.

        That being said, Shelby is a very powerful legislator, with a lot of political smarts and, as I said, NASA has to be pretty careful about even just pissing him off. Shelby can make life for NASA really miserable if he wants to, going way beyond commercial services.

        • Neil

          Thanks Egad, Henry and Hiram. Great explanation and discussion of the issue.
          I’m feeling a little bit better about this however not great.
          Given that Shelby is the Ranking Minority member and not actually in control at this point, it does appear that NASA could ignore this ‘directive’. The resultant fallout may be acceptable given that this is the final leg of the program and Shelby’s rocket to nowhere is getting its funding anyway.
          Would Shelby make life miserable for NASA if he didn’t get his way? Not sure how but it’s all moot at this point. Perhaps he have an incapacitating heart attack or something. Just enough to put him on the sidelines for a bit. :) Oh well.
          I’ll await developments with bated breath. Well not really but it is a bit exciting.
          More exciting is awaiting developments in the block buy case and SpaceX next launch.

          • Henry Vanderbilt

            “Given that Shelby is the Ranking Minority member and not actually in control at this point, it does appear that NASA could ignore this ‘directive’.”

            Uh, no. The Senate does things differently than the House. In the House, the minority is near powerless. In the Senate, with different rules, the minority has appreciable clout. In the Senate Appropriations Committee, more so, because the current Chair, Barbara Mikulski, is smart enough to realize it’s even money Shelby’s Chair and she’s Ranking member a year from now.

            NASA may well end up ignoring this, mind, but if so, it’ll only be because considerable pressure was applied to counter Shelby in the Senate.

            • Or because the language disappears in conference with the House.

              • Henry Vanderbilt

                The conference is the next target, yes, if needed after we see what happens in the Senate this week.

                At that point, there’s also the House CJS Appropriations Report language mandating a downselect to one CCrew contractor.

                It’s definitely a more interesting summer than I expected going in…

              • Henry Vanderbilt

                Oh, and to anyone I’ve been undeservedly rude to in the last 72 hours, my apologies. It turns out I have some sort of insect-bite transmitted virus that’s been coming on for a couple days but only really kicked in (high fever, body feels like it’s been gone over with a fungo bat) this morning. Made me extra cranky, in hindsight. (Now I just don’t have the energy for cranky.)

                I understand the leading possibilities are West Nile, Dengue, and Chikungunwe. I’m rooting for the last, both because it has less known chance of really nasty lingering effects, and because it’d make me the first reported case in Arizona. (Be the first in your neighborhood!)

            • Hiram

              “it does appear that NASA could ignore this ‘directive’”

              “Ignore” is the wrong way to look at it. NASA can’t afford to do that. As I said, it will more likely be a matter of spin, where NASA pledges to answer the concerns of Senator Shelby, but chooses to do it in a different way. That is, the art is to assure Shelby that of course he’s “right”, and that his concerns will be dealt with, though possibly not in exactly the way he wanted them to be dealt with. The important thing is to honor his concern. That becomes his “I’m in charge” win take-away, even if his “directive” doesn’t get followed. NASA Legaff has a lot of smart people that are well trained in this spin strategy.

              There may be some other way to assure some measure of “transparency” in these contracts. That’s what Shelby says he wants. So give it to him. Give him his “win”. But ideally not through CCPD.

  • Engineer in Houston

    What I find interesting is to be found in the older (April) version of HR4412:

    [
    In General - Using the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2014 and notional numbers requested therein as a baseline, not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act the Administrator shall transmit to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate an estimate of--

    (A) when the 70-ton core element of the Space Launch System fully integrated with the Orion crew capsule may be demonstrated as an operational capability;

    (B) when the 130-ton Space Launch System fully integrated with the Orion crew capsule may be demonstrated as an operational capability;

    (C) the projected annual operational costs through 2030 for the 130-ton Space Launch System fully integrated with the Orion crew capsule after its operational capability has been demonstrated; and

    (D) the projected flight rate for the 130-ton Space Launch System fully integrated with the Orion crew capsule through 2030.
    ]

    This language has been removed for the final version of the bill. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why …

  • josh

    Shelby is trying to sabotage commercial crew because it’s making his obscenely expensive sls pork project look bad. One of the biggest crooks in Congress today.

  • Arnie T

    Hmmm Democrats have been in the past in favor of “open” voting rules. So, it doesn’t matter what party you belong to now, lets all “move” to Alabama, “register” in good Democrat fashion and Vote Shelby OUT! :))

  • I’m the first to admit that when the Space Shuttle was phased out, I was deeply skeptical of its potential private replacements, let alone proposed missions to the Moon or Mars, which seemed like literal flights of fancy compared to what NASA already had on its underfunded drawing board. Much of what, say, Richard Branson, is building still seems like joyrides for centimillionaires.
    But now, companies like SpaceX do seem to be creating credible alternatives to replace the shuttle, and perhaps, just perhaps, spaceships that can reach Mars too.
    I still think we should leverage our existing investments better – for example, why not get past Earth’s gravity-well by launching a Mars-ship directly from the ISS, and a separate, slower, but better fueled shuttle to get to the ISS first?
    I now think for the procurement process to work, governemnt should focus on setting goals, not methods. This would leave entrepreneurs free to innovate, while keeping to the necessities of the missions. And there would still be plenty for NASA and government overseers to do!

    • Henry Vanderbilt

      “..for the procurement process to work, government should focus on setting goals, not methods.”

      Agreed entirely! State the requirement in one page, take bids, let fixed-price milestone-driven contracts, fire contractors who don’t get the job done, and get useful affordable results. It’s how we used to do things, and it worked.

      But we all have to understand that this will greatly reduce the scope for bureaucratic empire-building and political pork. Thus it will be – is being – resisted every step of the way by all means available.

      This fight commenced over twenty years ago (I have GOT to write up that story one of these days) and even if it keeps going well we may not decisively win for another ten. Those huge herds of dinosaurs take a lot of killin’…

    • pathfinder_01

      “I now think for the procurement process to work, governemnt should focus on setting goals, not methods. This would leave entrepreneurs free to innovate, while keeping to the necessities of the missions. And there would still be plenty for NASA and government overseers to do!”

      I agree with your sentiment’s but the problem is NASA was in the 1970ies the organization that launched all non military payloads into space. The shuttle as planned would have replaced the expendable launchers with something reusable and economical. It put to use some of the workers and infrastructure of Apollo to something practical(landing on the moon may be exciting but not really practical like say weather satellites, GPS, Spy satellites, ect…). The plan was always for NASA to turn over technology to the private sector to operate and there was even hope that perhaps the upcoming shuttle would be privatized.

      However the shuttle failed to be cheaper than the expendable launchers and risked lives every time it launched to boot. Post Challenger space was deregulated which allowed the private companies that built the expendable rockets to sell launches directly(no more NASA middleman). The shuttle being uneconomical was not privatized.It took way too many workers and took way too long to turn around to compete or even replace at an higher price the expendable not to mention no where safe as advertised.

      This created a problem that we are dealing with now. The private sector is much better suited to build and design launchers and spacecraft but NASA HSF being tied to the Shuttle politically has trouble accessing this resource. NASA was an organization built around launching the shuttle. So in the case of funding from Congress(keep the jobs where they are) the method is set(must use shuttle or shuttle parts) but this method is too costly to do anything practical(can’t afford payloads and built the rocket). Hence SLS with no clear payloads, and launch rate too slow to do anything with. And Orion sized to heavy for Ares-1 and now too heavy for it’s parachutes if launched with people and unable to fit it’ own service module in NASA’s budget(needing ESA to develop it).

      • E.P. Grondine

        Hi pathfinder –

        My take on the history of the situation is a little different.

        ATK blocked the liquid fueled boosters for the Shuttle.
        These could have been flown stand alone at very low cost.

        As a result, after Challenger, Reagan put everyone back into the launch business with designs based on late 1950′s technology.

        ATK’s role in blocking the development of later launch vehicles, and the ARES 1 fiasco, left the nation where we are, with Musk as the single low cost provider.

        I view the development of fly-back re-usables by ULA as a desirable goal, so that the nation has an alternative liquid fueled launcher.

        I will add that I prefer to see engineers employed rather than accountants and lobbyists.

        • pathfinder_01

          Liquid fueled boosters or not the shuttle was still more expensive than the ELV. There were also things like tiles, an expensive external tank, and issues with carrying a crew and so on.

          The reason why ATK could block things has to do with the nature of large, segmented solids. They are labor intensive. The production, transportation and stacking them employed more people than a liquid design and this is why the current EELV don’t use them. A private company that would be aimed at profit would have enough control over the design to get rid of labor intensive systems in a latter upgrade cycle. NASA could not.

          The ELV continued development. Atlas II,III,V; Titian IV; Delta II,III,IV and many others like Pegasus were developed post Challenger. ATK did not block these vehicles because they were privately owned and Congress had less say in them.
          ULA isn’t developing flyback at the moment because they want Congress to pay for it. They have done some work but Space X has put in far more effort.
          In order for the cost of spaceflight to decrease it must become less labor intensive hence why employing engineers is contrary to that goal.

          • E.P. Grondine

            Hi pathfinder –

            “The reason why ATK could block things has to do with the nature of large, segmented solids.”

            I am very certain you are mistaken there as to how ATK operated politically.

            What will happen now that Orbital has taken over ATK’s solids division is beyond my abilities to forecast.

            “In order for the cost of spaceflight to decrease it must become less labor intensive hence why employing engineers is contrary to that goal.”

            I’ll have to disagree with you on that as well. One actually has to engineer low cost launch systems, and that requires engineers.

            • Dick Eagleson

              One thing Orbital could do with ATK is dispassionately look at its current facilities vs. booked work and cull out loser product lines. One program that ought to get the gimlet eye is SLS SRB’s.

              Consider. There were 135 missions over 30 years during the Shuttle era. That’s an average of 4.5 missions a year. To fly 4.5 missions takes 9 SRB’s containing 36 fuel grain segments, 4 in each SRB. In the SLS era, in contrast, NASA isn’t planning to fly oftener than every other year – if that. One SLS mission every other year means only one 5-segment SRB per year. That;s an 86% drop in annual production. Yet ATK – and now Orbital – will be on the hook to keep the giant mixing and casting machines for these giant fuel grain segments maintained and operational while getting a lot less revenue for their trouble.

              Orbit could< decide this makes no economic sense, close down the SRB facility, kill SLS at a stroke and downsize their solids business to a scale that is sustainable given steady or even growing demand for ATK’s numerous smaller solid motor products. Not saying Orbital will do this, but they could.

        • Dick Eagleson

          I view the development of fly-back re-usables by ULA as a desirable goal, so that the nation has an alternative liquid fueled launcher.

          I view boning Carmen Electra all weekend in a luxury Vegas penthouse as a desirable goal. But I also realize it’s one that’s unlikely ever to come to pass because Carmen, doggone it, just isn’t motivated to pursue the project. I judge ULA’s current interest and motivation in pursuing flyback booster technology to be very Carmenesque.

          I will add that I prefer to see engineers employed rather than accountants and lobbyists.

          Hey, so do I and I’m none of the above.

          • Carmenesque now added to my lexicon, thank you.
            ULA can’t pursue it’s own development because of the way it is structured. LM and Boeing don’t have much of a retail launch market so will lag behind in reusability development. The LM/Boeing cash cow is defense contracts. Why build 4 inexpensive reusable launch vehicles when you can sell one expendable as a monopoly at the same price?

    • Andrew Swallow

      I still think we should leverage our existing investments better – for example, why not get past Earth’s gravity-well by launching a Mars-ship directly from the ISS, and a separate, slower, but better fueled shuttle to get to the ISS first?

      I like the basic plan only replace the ISS by a gateway spacestation. If Bigelow’s dreams come true NASA should be able to control one for 1-2 billion dollars. (He will not know the real cost until a manned spacestation has been operating for a year.)

      The ISS is a joint US-Russian operation so Putin can veto any launches from it. Space Race 2 advantage USA is unlikely to get much help from the Russian Government.

  • Gary Anderson

    Good afternoon on this bright Father’s Day in the northeast. TEA Party in Space launched a blistering FB campaign aimed against Senator Shelby that started only minutes after the committee vote to approve his language. The campaign targeted Washington DC, Alexandria, and Alabama along with nationwide commercial space interested fans. Needless to say, TPiS helped set the fighting tone for the coming days.

    Some messaged us saying we were ‘nasty’. Other private messages we received especially from one in “Huntsville” alluded to feeling guilty about Shelby’s actions: “we are cheating.” said one, “we can’t compete except with Congressional favors” said another. I would just pose the question sarcastically, “Really? We are the nasty ones?”

    I can only hope the news regarding Kevin McCarthy, although not a ‘friend’ of tea party aligned individuals in general, is a very strong friend for commercial space activities. If he should become Majority Leader soon and the various space organizations march on Washington with fervor, then Shelby’s language will be removed by the full Senate or refused to be incorporated by the House in conference.

    Gary Anderson
    TPiS

    • Didn’t know McCarthy was such a Spacex fan, good public statements he’s made. Thanks for the heads up. Read the TPIS site

      Curious where he and TPIS stand on DoD block-buy from ULA? Is it a $4B saving or a lockin of high priced launch vehicles? Does TPIS consider DoD part of their mission?

      • Gary Anderson

        Almost missed your questions.

        TPiS supports competition. 36 rockets at a firm fixed price seems like a good idea on the face. But what about the annual billion dollar subsidy to ULA? Why do we have to buy a rocket partially made in Russia and elsewhere not in U.S.A? (Don’t get us started there). Why do we have to pay three to four times more per launch?

        If you continue to scroll backwards in time on the FB page you will note we have on several occasions mentioned the block buy and the Space Exploration Technologies lawsuit against the USAF.

        Enjoy the remainder of the day.

        Gary

    • You claim to be a Tea Party Patriot and back Kevin McCarthy, an establishment Californian, over a rock ribbed red state conservative? Can you say astroturf? Is Musk paying you?

      • Gary Anderson

        amightywind asks “You claim to be a Tea Party Patriot and back Kevin McCarthy, an establishment Californian, over a rock ribbed red state conservative?” Mr. Windy from Minnesota (I recall you saying you live in Michele Bachmann’s district): 1) I do not claim to be a TPP member. TPiS is a project of the National Liberty Federation(NLF). Unlike the Tea Party Patriots where donations pay the executive director $453,000 before even giving a penny to candidates, NLF’s members pays the expenses it accumulates. 2)FWiW: I personally do not ‘back Kevin McCarthy’, I’m one of the ones reserving judgment and it still is not a done deal with Rep. Labrador in the running for ML. What I did say, which you didn’t read correctly(or chose not to read) is Rep McCarthy is a supporter/enthusiast if you will of commercial space activities. A good thing for America’s space economy.

        amightywind further asks, “Is Musk paying you?” I do not know him personally and have never been introduced to Mr. Musk even in a crowded room(he is younger than yours truly), nor is any company, PR firm, or other organization paying us to promote SpaceX or other like enterprise. Further, nobody is ‘on the take’ that is affiliated with TPiS in any capacity. Shame on you for suggesting it. We pride ourselves on honesty and integrity, even if we have to go against political same-side-of-aisle ‘friends’.

        For three years I have read you flailing in the ‘wind’. It really is too bad. You have missed so much fun in the space community and its technological progress. The world is changing, and I am beyond ecstatic that I jumped in with both feet and have learned so much is so short a period of time. Heck I’ve even had a chance to chat one on one with the one-and-only Jeff Foust!<– He keeps his distance from me though.

        • I do not claim to be a TPP member.

          You just throw around the term in your organisation’s name to mislead people. My mistake.

          • Michael Kent

            There are a lot of Tea Party groups, Windy. Most of them are independent of each other. It’s not a centralized organization.

            Unlike Tea Party in Space, you seem to have trouble with basic concepts of the movement.

  • John Malkin

    Defense Aerospace is the 9th highest contributor to Shelby so this would be expected since it’s not considered bribery by the Supreme court to get language for money. Unless the contribution laws change, I expect more of the same.

    Also note that nearly 50 percent of the contributions are outside his district but this isn’t unique to him or the party in which he sits.

    I guess we will always have an Aerospace Defense program but we may not always have a Civil human space program.

    It’s this kind of thinking that walks all over any hope of vision. Here is the thing, if they make it too difficult for commercial providers and they can’t find an economic value, they will walk away, than watch NASA scramble. Lockheed will have them in their back pocket.

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