Congress, NASA

Edwards more optimistic about NASA authorization, less so about other legislation

While NASA administrator Charles Bolden expressed skepticism earlier this week that a NASA authorization bill would make it through Congress this year, a leading member of the House Science Committee said in a recent interview she is more optimistic about the bill’s prospects, but less so about two other pieces of space-related legislation.

“I feel confident that the Senate is going to move forward on its authorization,” said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), ranking member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, in an interview after her luncheon speech at the NewSpace 2014 conference in San Jose, California, on July 26. “I do hope that it’s one of those things that can be done by the end of this year.”

She said she expected the Senate’s version would, in many respects, “mirror the House authorization,” which would aid the conference needed to reconcile the likely differences between the House and Senate versions. One difference Edwards expected is that the Senate is interested in doing a multi-year authorization, while the House bill only covers the current fiscal year. “The Senate is looking at a multiple-year authorization which, I believe, we would be able to convince our colleagues in the House to support it,” she said. “I’ve long supported a multi-year authorization, so that’s not a problem for me.”

She was less optimistic about the prospects for passing an update to the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, although not because of any provisions in the legislation (yet to be introduced) to do that. “I think we could use another hearing or so, and I’ve expressed that to Mr. [Steven] Palazzo,” she said, referring to the chairman of the space subcommittee. “I just don’t know, frankly, if we have enough days yet to be able to do it. So it’s not because the two of us don’t want it.”

As previously noted here, she was skeptical about the chances of the ASTEROIDS Act, the bill introduced by Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), members of the House Science Committee, in early July that would grant property rights to resources extracted form asteroids. “We haven’t had any hearings on that,” she said. “I just think it’s bad policy to move policy forward when you haven’t done the investigation work it takes to do that. I’ve shared that with both Mr. Posey and Mr. Kilmer.”

On the issue of relations with Russia and their effect on space cooperation, Edwards said previous concerns had eased. “What I’ve learned since then is that there’s been actually quite a separation between going on at a political level versus what’s going on on a day-to-day basis in terms of our space operations and I think that’s a good thing,” she said. “I do feel more more confident, frankly, than I did a couple of months ago that the political devolution has not turned into a space devolution.”

She added, though, that she didn’t necessarily object to investing in development of an RD-180 replacement. “I haven’t come to a conclusion about that. I never think it’s particularly harmful for the United States to make certain that it has the independence of its own operations and capacity.”

She also expressed interest in enhancing cooperation with China in space, while recognizing there are obstacles to doing so. “China is less of a partner, and I think that needs to change,” she said. “It would be better to have them in fold in our civil development than not.”

“There are some issues with the Chinese that we have to get resolved, like the theft of intellectual property” before such cooperation would be possible. And when could that happen? “Not this Congress.”

78 comments to Edwards more optimistic about NASA authorization, less so about other legislation

  • She also expressed interest in enhancing cooperation with China in space, while recognizing there are obstacles to doing so. “China is less of a partner, and I think that needs to change,” she said. “It would be better to have them in fold in our civil development than not.”

    On the one hand, I shouldn’t care because the Senate dems will soon be on the outside looking in. But to suggest we cozy up to China in space when our experience with Russia has destroyed our space program is beyond belief. Have them in our fold? Like Russia? China has just developed a new ICBM for the expressed purpose of incinerating the US mainland. They are laying claim to most of the South China Sea at the direct expense of our treaty allies. We should be contesting China, not cooperating.

    • Hiram

      “our experience with Russia has destroyed our space program? ??

      Huh? Our partnership with Russia has been overwhelmingly useful, at least in a policy context, on ISS. Are you perhaps referring to RD-180s? I haven’t witnessed any actual destruction thus far from that situation. As to China developing a new ICBM to incinerate our mainland, they’re just following our lead. Our capacity for incinerating nations is beyond belief. Call it American exceptionalism. We can incinerate better than anyone else! All of our EELV launchers were originally developed as ICBMs for the purpose of incineration.

      Try opening your eyes.

      • RockyMtnSpace

        “All of our EELV launchers were originally developed as ICBMs for the purpose of incineration.”

        Ahh … No.

      • amightywind

        Successful? By what measure? We gave up our only means of space transportation, the Space Shuttle. Obama misled the country and replaced it with nothing. We rely on the transportation provided by a rogue state, a very bad actor in the world. If you don’t see that the US is in a bad, there is no point in any further debate?

        • Vladislaw

          President Obama did try to replace the Space Transportation System with a 100% American built, domestic human spaceflight commercial services. The President requested funding for commercial crew in the stimulus and led by Senator Shelby that request was reduced to 50 million dollars in a 767 BILLION stimulus package.

          He then requested 6 billion dollars in funding over five years to fully fund multiple firms for commercial crew, as you remember, commercial crew was called for by President Bush to start right away because the Space Shuttle was to be retired in September of 2010. That request was refused by the House led Republicans and replaced with 270 million for funding commercial crew on a year by year basis.

          The President then requested 890 million the following year and the House led Republicans chopped it to 405 million.

          The President then requested 850 million the following year and the house led republicans again chopped the request to 500 million which the senate added 50 million for a final 550 million.

          The whole time this was happening the right wing nutcases chanted the same mantra, Obama killed the space program and now Amnerica was forced to pay the Russians an insane amount for taxi services. Deny the President the funds requested to solve the problem then blame him for not solving the problem. Politics as it’s best.

  • Coastal Ron

    There are some issues with the Chinese that we have to get resolved, like the theft of intellectual property” before such cooperation would be possible. And when could that happen? “Not this Congress.“”

    It’s interesting that congresscritters will buy products made in China and let China finance our government debt, but essentially not want anyone in the U.S. to interact with the Chinese people. That’s a pretty shortsighted view, and I see no reason why, for activities in LEO at least, we can’t do joint operations. If we feel our way of life is superior, then the only way to prove that is through interaction.

    • Coastal Ron: congresscritters will buy products made in China and let China finance our government debt

      I agree, and it’s worth reiterating more explicitly: the way we manage our economy — export jobs to keep products cheap in the name of a “free market economy” — directly finances Chinese military R&D and everything else they do. Every time you or I buy a “cheap” Chinese product we are financing their military expansion and their space program (and their high speed rail network and what they have of social stability).

      Then, we get to turn around and spend billions of dollars staying ahead of the military that we finance. Go figure. . . .

      – Donald

    • RockyMtnSpace

      “There are some issues with the Chinese that we have to get resolved, like the theft of intellectual property”.

      Yep, and this must be driving you nuts Ron as it comes out of the mouth of a fellow leftest like Edwards. Hard to rant and rave as you have against Wolf when it is one of your own expressing concerns about cooperation with the Chinese. LMAO.

      • Coastal Ron

        RockyMtnSpace said:

        Yep, and this must be driving you nuts Ron as it comes out of the mouth of a fellow leftest like Edwards.

        So a Democrat being concerned about intellectual property rights is unusual, but Republicans that are anti private sector isn’t? Politicians confused you, don’t they?

        And as far as partnering up with China in space, what are they supposed to be able to steal? The NASA space technology they would be interacting with would be 90′s era.

        You have as much irrational fear as Wolf does.

        • Dick Eagleson

          The real question is what possible upside you see to Chinese participation in American space initiatives that would justify even a marginal risk of espionage losses (and I don’t see the risk as marginal)?

          I’m aware of no technology the Chinese might bring to the table that would justify including nationals of a nation with which we might very well be at war within a few years.

          As for “peace through understanding” and other such chowder-headed bilge, the Russians have been our “partners” for 20 years and they’re now more hostile to us than when this whole ISS thing started – a lot more hostile.

          I repeat; where’s the upside?

          For the record, I don’t think it would have been a good idea for the U.S. to have gone halfsies on exploring Antarctica with the Nazis in the late 1930′s either.

  • John Malkin

    There is one word that makes me roll my eyes is “Authorization”. This doesn’t guarantee an appropriation to match the mandates setup in the authorization act. Congress should be focused on the appropriation bill not the authorization bill.

    CR that lasted the entire fiscal year would be horrible for NASA at this critical time. It would most likely force NASA to down select to a single commercial provider and under fund SLS. At best both would slip a year or two.

    I’ve worked in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, South America and Asia including Russia and the Ukraine. Government Rhetoric just like in the US doesn’t parallel business strategy or for the most part individual actions. The Chinese and Russian governments have far more too loose by starting a direct conflict with the US or even a 21st Century cold war.

    • John Malkin: Congress should be focused on the appropriation bill not the authorization bill.

      Definitely. Unfortunately, it’s much easier to “authorize” spending, than it is to figure out where the money to “appropriate” is going to come from. While wrong, it is easy to understand why members of Congress would rather authorize than appropriate in today’s fiscal environment.

      – Donald

    • Hiram

      I think you miss the point of Authorization. Authorizers look much more closely at policy than appropriators. The latter are largely concerned with one year. That kind of perspective doesn’t suit any kind of real sustainability. There is actually a bill devoted entirely to NASA activities. That’s an Auth bill. NASA appropriations are bundled in a much wider ranging CJS bill. The authorizers “authorize” only in that they’ve actually looked at proposed expenditures far more closely than the appropriators have. The appropriators trust them to do that.

      It may be “easier” to authorize than appropriate, but it actually requires a lot more thought about real policy. It’s simply trite and naive to say that the money is the only important thing. It isn’t. You can spend a lot of real money on stuff that is just daft. Need I remind you that the idea for SLS came out of Senate appropriators? The June version of the NASA CJS bill doesn’t even touch on redirecting and fondling asteroids. This is NASA’s major thrust on HSF, and the approps bill doesn’t even refer to it?

      People who don’t understand the purpose of authorization need to go back and take high school civics. Yeah, but most high school civics teachers don’t understand it either.

      You can actually learn something about policy from an Auth bill. Approps bills are much less instructive.

      • Dark Blue Nine

        “I remind you that the idea for SLS came out of Senate appropriators?”

        Not true. In terms of legislation, SLS and MPCV first appeared in the Senate bill that became the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. In terms of legislators and staff, SLS and MPCV originated with Hutchison, Nelson, and the Senate authorization staff. Shelby et al. were happy/enthusiastic to endorse down the road, but SLS/MPCV didn’t start in an appropriations bill and didn’t originate with appropriators.

        “I think you miss the point of Authorization. Authorizers look much more closely at policy than appropriators. The latter are largely concerned with one year. That kind of perspective doesn’t suit any kind of real sustainability. There is actually a bill devoted entirely to NASA activities. That’s an Auth bill.”

        True in theory but not reality. The reality is that NASA has gone for long periods of time with no authorization (while appropriators must pass bills every year, even when late), and many of those authorization acts have only covered one or a couple years. Even a full, three-year authorization act doesn’t cover a full development cycle for even short, simple aerospace projects (like COTS). Only the White House/OMB really set the five-year-plus, long-term direction of NASA, and then usually only at the beginning of a new Administration.

        Moreover, authorization committees have no real spending, taxing, or regulatory power, and so get the third- and fourth-string legislators and staff. Only when the White House/OMB cedes its long-term agenda-setting power to authorization committees (or agency heads) do we wind up with idiocy like SLS/MPCV (or Ares I/Orion).

        “The authorizers ‘authorize’ only in that they’ve actually looked at proposed expenditures far more closely than the appropriators have.

        Not true. Authorization bills set broad account ceilings. They don’t set program- or project-specific funding levels.

        Moreover, authorizers are totally unconnected from budget reality. Appropriation subcommittees have to balance multiple department/agency budgets within a hard limit set by the overall appropriations committee. Authorization ceilings don’t have to fit within a larger budget.

        “The appropriators trust them to do that”

        Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… wait, stop… ha, ha, ha, ha, ha… you’re killing me…

        Seriously, any appropriations staffer (or OMB examiner) will run rings around authorization staff when it comes to program knowledge. Part of that is because they’re just higher quality staff due to the greater responsibilities they’re given. But a lot of it is also due to the deeper access they’re given by the departments/agencies to budget, cost, and other information.

        “The June version of the NASA CJS bill doesn’t even touch on redirecting and fondling asteroids. This is NASA’s major thrust on HSF, and the approps bill doesn’t even refer to it?”

        Silence is its own message in legislation.

        “People who don’t understand the purpose of authorization need to go back and take high school civics… You can actually learn something about policy from an Auth bill.”

        Not really. Policy is about setting realistic priorities. Even when they’re functional and competent, authorization committees don’t have to make hard, resource-constrained choices. For better or worse, only the appropriators are forced to set priorities within a realistic, resource-constrained environment. (And even they punt when they can.)

        • Hiram

          “Not true. In terms of legislation, SLS and MPCV first appeared in the Senate bill that became the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.”

          That’s true. Though the appropriators have been the real flag carriers on the SLS project. Of course, the FY10 auth bill came down the pike well before the FY11 Omnibus approps bill. I find it hard to believe that those flag carriers weren’t in the faces of the Auth committee demanding that SLS appear in their bill. The question isn’t when it first appeared, but who made it first appear.

          “The reality is that NASA has gone for long periods of time with no authorization (while appropriators must pass bills every year, even when late), and many of those authorization acts have only covered one or a couple years.”

          That’s because an authorization legislation is, as I said, for long term legislative planning. It’s unfortunate when they don’t do that long term planning, but unlike for Approps, the lights don’t go out if they don’t. They know that. In fact, the Auth bills are standing law until they are explicitly changed.

          “Authorization ceilings don’t have to fit within a larger budget.”

          Well, sure. If you’re simply planning to a predetermined budget, that’s the way it has to work. But if you’re trying to plan to a goal that serves real national needs instead of a budget, then you try to legislatively move the needle on where the budget should be. The budget number is not cast in concrete.

          “Seriously, any appropriations staffer (or OMB examiner) will run rings around authorization staff when it comes to program knowledge. Part of that is because they’re just higher quality staff due to the greater responsibilities they’re given.”

          It’s not that simple. First of all, Approps staffers are given greater responsibilities, and so they have more breadth but less depth. Secondly, especially in the earmark era, Approps had power, and quality staffers flocked to power. Let’s face it. Approps includes some of the most powerful members of Congress. Auth (especially the House Space Subcommittee!) includes some of the least powerful members. House Science has often functioned as a training ground for new, and pretty clueless members. But the hearings that House Science arranges provide a lot more depth that what comes out of CJS.

          “Silence is its own message in legislation.”

          That’s crap, and you know it. So does Congress.

          “For better or worse, only the appropriators are forced to set priorities within a realistic, resource-constrained environment.”

          And it’s usually worse. Because they’re thinking more about dollars than national needs. Bring on the punt! C’mon. Look at what U.S. human space flight has turned into in a “realistic, resource-controlled environment”.

          • Dark Blue Nine

            “In fact, the Auth bills are standing law until they are explicitly changed.”

            Whoop-dee-doo. So is every other bill signed into law by the POTUS. That doesn’t mean that anyone has to or is going to follow (or even pay attention) to every “standing law” of the nation.

            Authorization bills give permission. They’re routinely ignored (when they actually come into law), and they don’t force appropriators or much of anyone else to do anything.

            “First of all, Approps staffers are given greater responsibilities, and so they have more breadth but less depth.”

            No, appropriations staff has more depth. Appropriations staffers have more responsibility in that they have to set actual, detailed budgets every year, not broad, fluffy ceilings every once in a while. That difference in responsibility has nothing to do with breadth. Appropriations staff are also older, have years more experience, and have to understand budget details at the program/project level to get the numbers to add up and the programmatics to make some semblance of sense, tests that authorization bills never have to pass.

            “But the hearings that House Science arranges provide a lot more depth that what comes out of CJS.”

            Hearings and investigations anywhere on the Hill are almost entirely about making members look good, occasionally about defending pork, and rarely about scoring points against the political opposition. They’re never about fact-finding, seeking the truth, reasoned debate, or any of the other pablum you’re buying into. Any number of hearings on the U.S. civil human space flight program should tell you that.

            “That’s crap, and you know it. So does Congress.”

            It’s not crap. The Senate doesn’t like ARM anymore than the House, but the Senate is controlled by Democrats that don’t want to appear out of step with their Democratic President. So they’re silent on the topic in their bill. They’re saying “this sucks” to the POTUS without embarrassing him in print.

            C’mon, think. This isn’t that hard to figure out.

            “Bring on the punt! C’mon. Look at what U.S. human space flight has turned into in a ‘realistic, resource-controlled environment’.”

            In terms of direct spending, the U.S. civil human space flight program is an $8+ billion per year enterprise. It approaches $10 billion per year if you throw in the relevant civil servant salaries and overhead. It easily consumes 50-60% of the total NASA budget. We spend way, way more on it, both in terms of raw dollars and percentage of overall budget, than any other civil space program in the world.

            We’ve spent roughly that amount annually since Apollo wound down. Over 45-odd years that comes to nearly a half-trillion dollars. And what has the taxpayer received for such a huge expenditure? One extremely fragile, insanely expensive, downright dangerous space transport system; one insanely expensive, grossly underutilized space station; and a handful of expensive, overrunning, behind schedule, technically compromised, and ultimately terminated, multi-billion dollar attempts to build a zoo of space transport system replacements. And some HST life extension/upgrades that would have been cheaper to supply via a clone. Oh, and COTS.

            The last thing the U.S. civil human space flight program needs is another, unrealistic dollar.

            • Vladislaw

              “The last thing the U.S. civil human space flight program needs is another, unrealistic dollar.”

              Well said, I commented about a recent article by Eric Berger who complained the REAL problem with NASA was it was under funded. Not a single word on pork or the most insane contracting system or congress. Nope the problem is more funding.

              • Read the article more closely. He said there are two options available: increase the budget to accommodate SLS or go with the alternate route of using commercial launchers/depots. He did not say whether he preferred one over the other, but notice he put a link to the 3rd article in his “Adrift” series that covered the commercial launcher/depot alternative in detail and even included user-interactive graphics showing the application of that technology.

                As for “Not a single word on pork or the most insane contracting system or congress.”, don’t be surprised if that is the primary subject in one of the upcoming articles in his “Adrift” series. Keep looking.

              • P.S. For those who don’t want to drill down into the article to find the link to the ‘Adrift’ part 3 article that contains the interactive graphics of which I spoke, here is that link: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/nasa/adrift/3/

                Look below the part with Paul Spudis down in the area discussing Charles Miller’s proposal for cislunar space flight. I can’t help but wonder what SLS fanatic Spudis thought when he saw a description of the return to the Moon that he wants accomplished with commercial launchers/depots instead of SLS? :)

              • Oops! Instead of just “cislunar flight”, I meant to say cislunar flight and beyond.

              • Vladislaw

                Rick Boozer wrote:

                don’t be surprised if that is the primary subject in one of the upcoming articles in his “Adrift” series. Keep looking.

                My apologies again Rick, just shows the years of frustration with writers who have a forum and then fail to REALLY attack the problems right at their heart. You then see low information voters in the comments section parroting the “problems” with NASA as a Presidential problem or a funding problem, especially with this President who couldn’t even get jobs bill through this congress in what was close to a depression.

            • Hiram

              When I said

              “Bring on the punt! C’mon. Look at what U.S. human space flight has turned into in a ‘realistic, resource-controlled environment’.”

              My point was, as you say, that what U.S. space flight has turned into is a real punt, nowhere near the goal posts. I was not complimenting U.S. human space flight.

              Adhering to a “realistic, resource-controlled environment” is wha kept us from reaching the goals we really wanted to reach. So as long as you’re planning to a firmly capped budget, you can scale your dreams way, way back.

              As to Senate Democrats being silent on ARM because they don’t want to embarrass the President, that’s nuts. They’re just handing the argument over to the House. Besides, you really think the President cares squat about ARM? He once mentioned asteroids, and when he did that he sure wasn’t talking about captured ones. Criticism of ARM means zero to the President. Do you really, honestly, believe that he gives a crap about ARM? C’mon. Think!

              “Appropriations staff are also older, have years more experience, and have to understand budget details at the program/project level to get the numbers to add up and the programmatics to make some semblance of sense, tests that authorization bills never have to pass.”

              So Approps staff can concentrate on passing tests that Auth folks don’t have to pass, because they’re signing checks for policy-vacant projects. Yeah, I get it. It’s easy to sign checks. It’s hard to come up with credible policy.

              “Authorization bills give permission.”

              What they assert is rationale. A signed check does not make rationale. Formally (look it up), what’s being authorized is the agency, not the dollar amount. The dollar amount quoted in an authorization bill is understood to be an upper limit for expenditures. Many say that the dollar amounts in authorization bills are the “hunting license” for the approps process. The dollar amount isn’t that important, as long as it gives the Approps folks some elbow room.

              The NASA authorization bill authorizes THE AGENCY to receive appropriated funds. The check can’t be written to an agency that has not been authorized by Congress to receive federal funds.

              Basic high school civics. Or, if you don’t have your old class notes, there are some nice essays by congressional analysts. Look them up.

              • Vladislaw

                It is not just agencies that can get authorization, programs and activies can also be authorized. The dollar amount set in an authorization is non binding so appropriators can basically pick any number they chose. They can also authorize permanent appropriations.

  • RockyMtnSpace

    “On the issue of relations with Russia and their effect on space cooperation, Edwards said previous concerns had eased. “What I’ve learned since then is that there’s been actually quite a separation between going on at a political level versus what’s going on on a day-to-day basis in terms of our space operations …”

    Looks like the imminent demise of Atlas and ULA so gleefully cheered for by the SpaceX fanboys on this site isn’t in the cards. Must be a really sad day for you guys, especially when it comes from a fellow leftest like Edwards. Talk about reading the tea leaves wrong …

    • Fred Willett

      I think most SpaceX fanbois would be sorry to see Atlas and Delta go. What I want, and what most of us want, is competition. SpaceX is providing it.
      ULA’s problem is that it’s not allowed to compete. Given a free hand by it’s masters ULA could do a lot. Boeing and LM don’t want that. They consider ULA a cash cow they can milk and nothing else.
      So the end result is that reusability is coming down the track at a very rapid rate and it seems ULA can’t do anything about it.
      I hope I’m wrong.
      A SpaceX monopoly would be just as bad as a ULA sole source contract. (grin)

      • RockyMtnSpace

        “ULA’s problem is that it’s not allowed to compete. Given a free hand by it’s masters ULA could do a lot. Boeing and LM don’t want that. They consider ULA a cash cow they can milk and nothing else.”

        Care to provide supporting information that proves this opinion? I doubt you can but would love to see something from either Boeing or LM that supports this statement.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “ULA’s parents were reported at the time of the merger to share ULA profits equally. Lockheed-Martin is reported here to have received $300 million from ULA in 2013, and here to be on track to increase that for 2014. Even allowing for peculiarities of corporate accounting, ULA income to the parent companies is clearly significant, hundreds of millions annually.

          Meanwhile, the visible evidence of ULA future investment is a few engine study contracts here, a small-scale upper-stage propulsion hardware demo there. These, plus their published work on propellant depots, advanced deep-space upper stages, etc. do indicate to us that ULA understands where they need to go – but the level of financial commitment seems wholly inadequate. We’d estimate the annual amounts involved to be in the millions – at most in the (very) low tens of millions – far short of the hundreds of millions of investment needed if ULA is to have a long-term competitive future.

          As an irreverent colleague put it, “someone really needs to call Protective Services on ULA’s parents.”

          The US government has not been shy in the past about imposing national policy on the US launch industry. In this case, we suggest that they let Boeing and Lockheed-Martin know that if they’re unwilling to invest in ULA for the long term themselves, for the good of country and company both, they should sell ULA to a deep-pockets outsider who will.

          Otherwise, what we’ll likely see some years from now is ULA’s current product line priced out of the market entirely, obsolete and near valueless, while ULA’s development team will have burnt out, retired, or gone elsewhere. That’s no way to treat a useful – and perishable – national resource.”

          http://www.space-access.org/updates/sau136.html

          • RockyMtnSpace

            Really, an opinion piece out of SAS is your proof? LMAO!!!

            • Dark Blue Nine

              “Really, an opinion piece out of SAS is your proof?”

              That “opinion piece” discusses evidence that everyone in the industry is aware of regarding ULA’s puny contracts for evolving the D4 and A5, regurgitates facts about how much ULA profit gets sent back to Boeing and LockMart, and provides links to the source documents for those figures. The only “opinion” offered is actually very sympathetic to the crappy situation that ULA’s parents have put it in.

              Try reading and following links before laughing your ass off. With your mouth closed, you’ll be less likely to stick your foot in it.

              • RockyMtnSpace

                From the link – “… As such, they are precious national resources – scarce, and expensive and time-consuming to replace. We should treat them that way. We don’t seem to be doing so in the case of ULA.”

                Opinion statement with no factual references to back up the statement.

                From the link – “Boeing and Lockheed-Martin look very much like they’re treating ULA as a cash cow …”

                “look … like”? Hardly a statement of informed fact. And by the way, Fred should have referenced this piece with his comments as he clearly took the words verbatim. That’s called plagiarism.

                From the link – “…ULA’s owners apparently prefer to run the operation into the ground for short-term income.”

                “apparently”? Hardly a statement based on fact. Therefore, opinion.

                From the link – “Meanwhile, the visible evidence of ULA future investment is …”

                Even this this guy recognizes he doesn’t have full insight into what ULA investments are and can only speak to “visible evidence”. Apparently you think ULA is an open book to any and everyone on their internal investment decisions. Are you really that stupid?

                From the link – “We’d estimate the annual amounts involved …”

                Estimate? The author has no idea how much ULA is allowed to invest otherwise he would state so to bolster his argument. And this is the level of discourse you consider to be fact?

                Your understanding of fact versus opinion is pathetic. Still laughing, but now at you.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Opinion statement with no factual references to back up the statement.”

                “Hardly a statement of informed fact.”

                “Hardly a statement based on fact.”

                If you can read three- and nine-digit numbers and if you can follow hyperlinks, then you should be able to understand the “factual references” that form the “basis” for the SAS “statement of informed fact”.

                Don’t be a baby. We shouldn’t have to spoon feed you information.

                “Even this this guy recognizes he doesn’t have full insight into what ULA investments are”

                Well then enlighten us, genius. Where are the big multi-ten and multi-hundred million dollar contracts being let for Atlas V and Delta IV evolution?

                All ULA has been able to do for years is post white papers from a few staff engineers on their website, throw some single-digit millions design work at XCOR for a new upper stage engine, and lend Masten some damaged hardware for experimentation.

                Since you live somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, you must have deep, intimate knowledge of ULA’s super-secret, multi-billion dollar investment in new launch vehicle development that they’ve somehow managed to keep hidden from the rest of the world.

                Well, lay it on us, buckaroo! We’re ready for the big unveiling!

                “And by the way, Fred should have referenced this piece with his comments as he clearly took the words verbatim. That’s called plagiarism.”

                Yeah, I’m sure Henry Vanderbilt is going to hire a crack legal team to track down and sue “Fred Willett” (if that’s his name) over cutting and pasting a section of Vanderbilt’s text into a comment on a blogpost. Because we don’t have fair-use, and no one ever does that on the internet. And I’m sure it will be very lucrative for Vanderbilt to sue because Willett is earning so much revenue off that comment.

                Take your crazy pills. You’re certifiably insane.

                “Estimate? The author has no idea”

                An “estimate” is not the same thing as having “no idea”.

                They teach estimation at the preschool level these days. You might want to attend one.

                “Are you really that stupid?”

                “Still laughing, but now at you.”

                You can resort to ad hominem attacks all you want. I’m not the blithering idiot who doesn’t know what an estimate is, thinks people sue over copied text in blog posts, hallucinates about non-existent launch vehicle development programs, can’t understand three- and nine-digit figures, and can’t follow more than one hyperlink.

                Cripes…

              • RockyMtnSpace

                “An “estimate” is not the same thing as having “no idea”.”

                Based on this last crazy rant, I would estimate your IQ at 42. Thus you are technically a moron. Since this estimate is as fully informed as the author’s estimate of ULA investment to which you so dearly cling, then it must be true. Good day.

              • Jeff Foust

                Let’s stop with the personal insults, please. Thank you for your cooperation.

              • Dark Blue Nine

                “Since this estimate is as fully informed as the author’s estimate of ULA investment to which you so dearly cling, then it must be true.”

                If the SAS estimate and the data it’s drawn from are wrong, then show us how. Again, where is the evidence of ULA’s super-secret, multi-billion dollar investment in new launch vehicle development that they’ve somehow managed to keep hidden from the rest of the world?

                I’ve asked you twice now. Put up or shut up.

              • RockMtnSpace – In this modern litigious era, it’s never a bad idea to clearly label facts as facts and opinion as opinion. (This is especially true when criticizing organizations with legal staffs that spend more on coffee and paperclips than your entire annual budget.)

                You don’t seem to want to actually address either the facts or the opinions based on them though, just quibble about details of phrasing. Not much increase to the community’s knowledge likely there, alas.

                As for copyright, a couple of paragraphs quoted out of ten or so pages is blindingly obviously “fair use” and protected. If you’d bothered to actually read the copyright notice on the Space Access Update in question, you’d also have seen that we encourage reproduction of significant portions of our Updates, so long as the source is credited.

                You hint that you actually know something of these matters, but so far you don’t seem to have added any facts to the discussion. If there’s some hidden investment program at ULA that might actually keep them around for the long term, that would be a useful thing for national policymakers faced with the apparent short-term cash-extraction to know.

          • Jim Nobles

            Last I heard ULA said they were going to put a few million into studies or something in regards to the Atlas V engine problem. I don’t really know what that means and nor do I expect much to come from it. The Atlas V, like other legacy boosters, appears to be becoming obsolete at a quick pace.

            I suspect the money people (everywhere) are going to hold off on these types of investments in the near term till they get an idea of what the future is going to bring.

            I also think the ULA/USAF relationship, as nicely as it is wrapped up legally, is going to become modified in the not to far off future. It makes no sense at all for the current relationship to continue as it is. It doesn’t meet America’s needs.

      • RockyMtnSpace

        Dick Eagleson – July 27, 2014 at 10:02 pm: “No RD-180′s for ULA by 8/31/2014 and I think Elon and company can break out the champagne in Hawthorne and revel like drunken trolls.”

        Hardly a call for competition.

        Dick Eagleson – July 23, 2014 at 10:49 pm: “Entirely agree about the delusional denial of geopolitical reality by ULA and its school of pilot fish. To inflict maximum damage, therefore, I expect Putin to keep things as ambiguous as possible for as long as possible. If no more engines arrive in this calendar year, though, I think even ULA will figure out that it’s “game over” and time to, belatedly, figure out what their next move should be. Based on past moves, it is almost certain to be something that relies on purchased political influence, to be dumb and to be a failure.”

        Hardly a call for competition.

        And not to be outdone …

        Mopane, July 22, 2014 at 1:57 am: “Atlas is all but cancelled. The engines aren’t going to ship.”

        CR was quick to add …

        Coastal Ron
        July 21, 2014 at 3:09 pm: ”

        You are right, Falcon 9 can’t handle all of the current Air Force payloads. But Falcon Heavy can, and Falcon Heavy doesn’t require any investment other than paying for certification (and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper). Plus it can be available by the time ULA runs out of RD-180 engines.

        So if Atlas V goes out of production for lack of engine, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy can take up the slack without a problem. Problem solved.”

        Even though Falcon Heavy has yet to even launch once, it is obviously a better choice than ULA’s offerings that now have 86 successful launches in a row.

        Not really a call for competition now is it?

        Finally, D.E. called it (and the usual cast of characters didn’t refute it) -

        Dick Eagleson, July 24, 2014 at 12:47 am · “It seems generally agreed that SpaceX will get EELV certification for Falcon 9 around year’s end, plus or minus maybe a month. By that time it ought to be abundantly clear that, if as I and many others here strongly suspect, ULA has received no more RD-180′s in the interim, that it will be time to rethink DoD launch requirements without much further reference to Atlas V.”

        Time to re-look at those tea leaves again Dick. Perhaps the SpaceX fanboys are really in fear of competition, and thus the glee at the prospect of Atlas going away. Explains a lot …

        DBN opined as well …

        Dark Blue Nine, July 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm: ” … Against those events, trends, and background, it’s out-of-touch to assume that RD-180s will continue shipping.”

        I guess his fellow leftest Edwards would disagree. But obviously DBN has far better insight than a sitting Congresswomen who is the ranking member of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee. Or is Edwards just one of those who is “out of touch”?

        • Vladislaw

          “Hardly a call for competition.”

          By definition SpaceX IS competition, a competitor if you will. That would mean there is now three competitors, Lockheed Martin with the Atlas V, Boeing with the Delta IV and SpaceX with the Falcon 9. Dick Eagleson is mearly expressing his joy for one of the competitors. There are a lot of Ford only drivers, or Chevie only drivers. As consumers/followers of products people always cheer for the their supplier of choice.

          The call for competition started the day ULA was formed and how the parent companies stated how this monopoly would now be better for the Nation because America would now see lower prices and more innovations. The exact historical opposite of what happens when a monopoly is created.

          That called for competition started YEARS ago, the CULMINATION of that call for competition is SpaceX and that is what is being cheered.

        • Vladislaw

          RockyMtnSpace wrote:
          Or is Edwards just one of those who is “out of touch”

          “During the July 18 markup of the bill, the NASA Authorization Act of 2013, Edwards introduced an amendment, which she ultimately withdrew, that would have called on NASA to create a Center Realignment and Closure Commission. The commission would have been given six months to evaluate options for reducing agency overhead, specifically by either “[c]onsolidating all rocket development and test activities of the Marshall Space Flight Center and Stennis Space Center in one location” or closing Marshall and dividing its responsibilities between Mississippi-based Stennis and Houston-based Johnson Space Center.” (Bold is mine)

          http://www.spacenews.com/article/civil-space/36431rep-edwards-pins-hopes-for-more-nasa-funding-on-senate

          Some might think she is out of touch suggesting to close Senator Shelby’s NASA center, since he sits on appropiations.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “I guess his fellow leftest Edwards would disagree.”

          Why on Earth do you think you know my political leanings?

          Or that anyone should give credence to an inexperienced legislator who only won office via a special election?

          Especially on military issues which she does not oversee on any committee and has no insight into?

          Do you think at all before you post?

          Do you bother to research anything before you post on it?

          Can you define “leftest [sic]“?

          Do you even know how to spell “leftest [sic] correctly”?

          Oy vey.

        • Dick Eagleson

          If I was to make a call for competition, why would I be calling ULA? Even if the future of the Atlas V was secure – and it’s not – it costs way too much to be competitive in a world with SpaceX in it. The Delta IV is even less competitive.

          It would be nice if someone out there was to give SpaceX some real commercial competition, but ULA ain’t gonna be the one to do it. Orbital-ATK, maybe, but not ULA. Atlas V is toast. Once that sinks in, ULA tips over like a rickshaw with a flat tire.

          ULA is predicated on more or less equal revenue from the Atlas V and Delta IV lines. Once Atlas V dies, all that’s left is Delta IV. At that point, Boeing will take the whole Delta IV infrastructure back and dissolve the now irrelevant ULA. The Atlas V plant will either be repurposed by LockMart or liquidated at auction.

          Boeing will continue to get some minority share of USAF/NRO business to keep a second option alive – barely – but most will go, as it should, to SpaceX. When Orbital-ATK gets its re-engineered Antares EELV certified in maybe three more years or so, then it’ll most likely be lights out for Delta IV too, except maybe the Heavy.

          I’m guessing by your moniker that you are probably an employee of ULA in the Denver area. I’d be polishing up my resume and making the acquaintance of job-hunting web sites if I was you. Oh yeah, time to sell that company stock in your 401K too.

          • RockyMtnSpace

            “I’m guessing by your moniker that you are probably an employee of ULA in the Denver area.”

            Nope, wrong again Dick. Still can’t read the tea leaves correctly can you? As for the rest of you screed …, one can only call it delusional.

            • Michael J. Listner

              Congratulations! You’ve have joined the ranks of those who have been accused of working for or otherwise being affiliated with ULA by the overly-enthusiastic cadre of Space X supporters. An accomplishment to be sure.

              • Dick Eagleson

                Our assumptions of a direct pecuniary interest in the fortumes of ULA on the part of certain commenters here is actually a sort of compliment. Naked self-interest taking precedence over the general welfare is certainly far from rare in these United States. More importantly, it isn’t, per se, an indicator of mental defect. Moral defect, perhaps, but not mental defect. Vigorously defending a corrupt and retrograde status quo for free, on the other hand, leads one to question the mental process integrity of such advocates.

                Anyway, as copiously noted previously, early returns on just who is delusional should be in fairly shortly.

        • Henry Vanderbilt

          To be fair, the Russians slipping delivery of the next two Rd-180s a few weeks past August is hardly the same thing as the Russians refusing to deliver them at all. The August date was first set back in the spring, and schedule slips happen.

          Although with the Russians of course it can be hard to tell what’s a schedule slip and what’s policy. I expect a number of people will be quite relieved when the next batch shows up (and passes inspection.)

          • Dick Eagleson

            True enough, Henry; schedule slips do happen. But Russia wasn’t busily invading and annexing parts of Ukraine back then either. I’m just old-fashioned enough to think that’s going to have some bearing on the matter of future engine shipments.

            As you quite correctly note, extended periods of ambiguity characterize a great deal that Russia does. I expect the RD-180 situation to remain nebulous for as long as it suits Russia for it to remain so. Engines will not appear on schedule, but neither – at least at first – will clear statements of revised policy from Russia. With so many credulous Westerners frothingly eager to believe all is not lost, RD-180-wise, it could be well into 2015 before Russia decides they’ve inflicted all the FUD they can squeeze from prevailing uncertainty and drop the final shoe.

            So, two predictions for Sept. 1, 2014:

            1) No new RD-180′s for ULA.

            2) No acknowledgement by my usual detractors here that I might be right.

            • Henry Vanderbilt

              I think the way to bet is still that the next batch of engines does show up, since Russia’s interest lies more in minimizing further economic disruption rather than escalating it. But, that’s what makes horse races interesting.

              • Dick Eagleson

                Russia has not hesitated to disrupt energy shipments to nations, including Ukraine, to which it wanted to apply a touch of the quirt. These involved far larger foregone revenues than will a few fiddly RD-180′s.

            • Ad Astra

              NPO Energomash is hotfire testing engine 74T today (8/4), which is the fourth of the five RD-180s scheduled to be delivered this year.

              If Russia were interested in brinksmanship over the RD-180s, they’ve already had plenty of opportunities to stall the delivery, but haven’t.

              • Henry Vanderbilt

                That sounds like an encouraging sign.

                Then again, it may not be safe to assume the situation there is stable. Apparently there’s some sort of ongoing power struggle, with the Russian government working to gain control over RSC Energia
                http://www.parabolicarc.com/2014/08/02/embattled-rsc-energia-president-lopota-suspended-post/
                and from a year ago
                http://www.interpretermag.com/americans-may-lose-russian-rocket-engines/

                As best I can tell, Rogozin and Roskosmos just significantly increased their influence over Energia and its subsidiary Energomash. Tough to say whether their ongoing questioning of RD-180 exports is just a tactic in this takeover or something they really want to do. (Likely some mix.) I’d still say the way to bet is this next batch shows up, but I wouldn’t commit to huge odds on it. Interesting times.

              • Dick Eagleson

                If Russia were interested in brinksmanship over the RD-180s, they’ve already had plenty of opportunities to stall the delivery, but haven’t.

                As the next RD-180 delivery scheduled since Russia started mucking about in Ukraine isn’t supposed to be until sometime this month and the next is supposed to be in October, it’s far from clear to me what other “opportunities” Russia has had to stall delivery.

                As for what’s going on inside Russia anent their space industry, they’re re-nationalizing it. All the old Soviet-era design bureaus and manufacturing apparats that went commercial after 1991 are being reeled back in. Simple as that.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Looks like the imminent demise of Atlas and ULA”

      Atlas’s demise was never “imminent” with over a dozen RD-180s in storage stateside. But every day that the situation in Ukraine is allowed to ferment, the more likely that either U.S. sanctions or Russian retaliation will cut off the RD-180 supply.

      The reality is that the White House started targeting Russian defense/aerospace firms/bureaus with sanctions a couple weeks ago. The next day, Russian separatists shot down a civilian airliner and killed over a couple hundred uninvolved foreign innocents. The next week, it was discovered that Russia had been firing artillery over its border with Ukraine. And at the end of last month, the White House and Europe enacted a new round of sanctions.

      The worsening trend is not in favor of continued RD-180 supply, and it would be stupid to rely on it going forward even if there is currently separation between the political leadership and the space sector in Russia. Even the Washington Post editorial board is now calling for the destabilization of Russia. If that’s where we’re really headed, there won’t be any RD-180 production, period, forget shipping them overseas to ULA.

      And all of this has nothing to do with the existence of Falcon 9. The USAF needs an alternative to the RD-180 and/or Atlas V, regardless. You have to be utterly ignorant of what’s actually been happening in the Ukraine and what’s been coming out of the Kremlin and White House to pretend otherwise.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “Talk about reading the tea leaves”

      These are the kinds of tea leaves we should be paying attention to:

      “While there has been no further indication that Russia will actually halt export of the RD-180, the optics, strategy and morality for defending ongoing dependence are simply dreadful. Almost inexplicably, the United States Air Force and national security establishment are directly supporting a Russian military and its industrial base which are fomenting war on the European continent, and in seeking to dismiss the SpaceX suit, doubled down on that course.

      Court imposed mediation offers a possible way to begin backing out of a deal which should never have been made in the first place.”

      http://innerspace.net/spacex/spacex-the-air-force-and-mediation/

    • Dick Eagleson

      The demise of Atlas V for want of RD-180′s is not something that NASA operations people would know anything about. Nor would their Russian opposite numbers for that matter. So just because Donna Edwards has heard encouraging opinions expressed by the former based on what they’ve heard from the latter is hardly dispositive. The Russians will make nice with us for at least awhile on ISS because they’ve got some skin in that game that they need at least a year or two or three to figure out a way to withdraw. On the RD-180 matter, we should all get a big clue shortly if ULA actually gets the pair of RD-180′s they are said to be expecting on or before August 31 – or not. Four more weeks will tell the tale.

      • RockyMtnSpace

        “The demise of Atlas V for want of RD-180′s is not something that NASA operations people would know anything about.”

        And where in the article did it state that she was getting her information from “NASA operations” people?

        • Michael J. Listner

          I commend your voice of reason in this forum, but would suggest you’re wasting your time and effort. With a few exceptions your words will fall on deaf ears. Better to be a casual observer and be glad that true space policy is not being created here.

          • Vladislaw

            Exactly, because the “true” space policy of the last 40 years, the status quo, if you will, has really opened up the space frontier.

            “(c) Commercial Use of Space.–Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires that the Administration seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.”

            The exective branch, under President Reagan had that added to the Space Act of 1958. That is true space policy that Congress has systematically ignored. That is why the taxpayers are still saddled with over priced launch systems. Why we are paying extra tens of billions for the CONstalltion program and SLS.Orion.

            I would prefer space policy that hinges on sanity and not what currently comes out of spacepolicy by district.

          • RockyMtnSpace

            “… but would suggest you’re wasting your time and effort.”

            Yeah, you’re right. On both fronts. But it’s a slow Saturday and it’s so much fun to tweak these guys. It really is too easy.

            Have enjoyed your prior posts. Nice to see some reasoned intellect out there that has an interest in space.

        • Dick Eagleson

          And where in the article did it state that she was getting her information from “NASA operations” people?

          How about here (emphasis mine):

          On the issue of relations with Russia and their effect on space cooperation, Edwards said previous concerns had eased. “What I’ve learned since then is that there’s been actually quite a separation between going on at a political level versus what’s going on on a day-to-day basis in terms of our space operations and I think that’s a good thing,” she said. “I do feel more more confident, frankly, than I did a couple of months ago that the political devolution has not turned into a space devolution.”

          She specifically references “our space operations.” I assume she is referring to ISS and that she formed her opinions after talking to NASA operations people. So far as I know, Edwards does not speak Russian so I doubt she was taking to Russian space operations people. That leaves NASA space operations people. Given her job and committee assignment it’s not like anyone at NASA would be ducking her phone calls.

          Anything else I can help you with? Reading comprehension? Aristotelian logic? Bueller? Bueller?

          • RockyMtnSpace

            “I assume she is referring to ISS and that she formed her opinions after talking to NASA operations people.”

            You assume a lot. Perhaps she was speaking about US space operations in general which would include DoD, NASA, and NTK agencies. YOU criticize my reading comprehension because YOU assume she is talking about NASA. What an idiot. And nowhere in her comment does she mention “space operations PEOPLE”. YOU added that word to the discussion. And when called on it, go on the attack about lack of reading comprehension to a statement you fabricated out of thin air. Good grief. Talk about not thinking before you post. And to take Mr. Listner’s advice once again, I am done with you on all topics. Good day.

            • Dick Eagleson

              Bye Rocky.

              Still, for the others here, and for the record, Edwards’s committee and sub-committee assignments are NASA-oriented, not armed services-oriented. The highest-profile “space operations” of ours that also involve Russsia are those on ISS. Why you assume otherwise without evidence I will leave to you to explain if your alleged exit from here proves as unfounded in fact as all your other assumptions.

    • Dick Eagleson

      So Donna Edwards talks to NASA people who have, presumably, talked to their Russian opposite numbers and she concludes everything’s still hunky-dory. NASA people are bureaucrats. They’ll always assume the status quo is immortal right up until the corpse falls on them from an upper story. The low-level Russians will always parrot the current party line right up until there’s a new party line. Then they’ll parrot the new party line even if it’s 180 degrees from the old party line. And they won’t be a bit embarrassed. That’s Russia! Gotta love it!

  • Dark Blue Nine

    Unless dramatic changes are made in the direction of the civil human space flight program, for all intents and purposes, it doesn’t matter whether NASA gets an authorization this year.

    The reality is that the NRC has declared ARM a “dead-end mission element” and SBAG members are calling ARM an “irrational… emperor with no clothes”:

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2545/1

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/asteroid-expert-richard-binzel-arm-is-emperor-with-no-clothes

    The reality is that the NAC Chair, Steve Squyres, is calling the SLS launch rate of once every 2-3 years “very risky” because launch teams cannot maintain proficiency at that rate.

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/future-of-nasas-human-spaceflight-program-dominates-nac-meeting

    The reality is that the NAC is declaring the SLS/MPCV-based program “unexecutable”. In the words of Tom Young, the most experienced NAC member, it is tantamount to “collectively perpetrating a fraud”. On the current path, the nation will spend $160 billion on human spaceflight over the 20 years and be only “negligibly closer” to landing humans on Mars:

    http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/future-of-nasas-human-spaceflight-program-dominates-nac-meeting

    The civil human space flight program is foundering on the rocks, and the House bill changes none of the driving causes. In fact, the bill extends and exacerbates these problems. Until there is an draft that turns the program away from SLS/MPCV and ARM — and that won’t happen until/unless a new White House decides to do so — pursuing a NASA authorization act is waste of time and taxpayer money.

    • James

      After reading the discussion of the NAC meetings at LaRC this past week, and coupling them with the NRC’s similar set of concerns, it appears clearly obvious that the HSF program as laid out is unexecutable. Sounds like what was said about the Cx Program when it was axed.

      So once again, despite the pain and suffering over the failure of Cx, history is repeating itself.
      And despite the pain and suffering endured by the agency after Challenger in 1986, history once again repeated itself in 2003 w Columbia

      Clearly the leadership at NASA, and Congress, and the other entities involved have no idea exactly what is going on here, as they all continue to repeat horrific events they say they wish not to repeat

      Something is missing, really missing, in the leadership bodies of those involved for this kind of repeated dysfunction to continue.

      Major failure of leadership all around to say the least.

  • Jim Nobles

    Here’s my prediction for NASA HSF and related missions: The politicians will keep voting more money for pork projects like SLS. When those projects fold the politicians will blame NASA saying, “We gave them all this money and they spent it all without producing much of anything.” Then the politicians will use that as justification to establish a new round of pork spending on projects they decide based upon the logic that NASA is too messed up to choose what it needs to do.

    • Vladislaw

      I believe they can see the writing on the wall and are trying for the last amount of funding for their districts, the last dying gasp.

      Once commercial crew companies send up humans for under 40 million a seat and the SLS/MPCV launches for 750 million a seat it will be a done deal. NASA will be ordered to switch to all commercial services and of course Congress will push the blame onto the executive branch for refusing to allow congress to fund commercial options.

      • Andrew Swallow

        The SLS team can save face by sending Bigelow spacestations to EML-2 and Low Lunar Orbit (LLO). A LLO spacestation permits a Morpheus lander to be used as a manned ascent stage.

        • Andrew Swallow wrote:

          The SLS team can save face by sending Bigelow spacestations to EML-2 and Low Lunar Orbit (LLO). A LLO spacestation permits a Morpheus lander to be used as a manned ascent stage.

          Ah, but remember that our beloved leaders on the congressional space committees have declared that the primary purpose of SLS is to “inspire.” Creating a permanent spacefaring economy doesn’t inspire them because it doesn’t add to their campaign coffers.

          • Andrew Swallow

            If a lunar mission during their term does not inspire them they could think about selling NASA two SLS and three spacestations. Followed by many years of regular launches to the Moon, manufacturing manned rovers, lunar habitats, landers and ISRU equipment. The States that will contain the factories to do the manufacturing have not been chosen yet. All of which will need contracts.

            • Neil

              Since Bigelow leases his habitats and doesn’t sell them, I wonder how willing he will be to send one on an SLS? I predict he won’t, due to the aforementioned issues of reliability and lack of testing.
              Cheers.

  • yg1968

    The House version of the NASA Authorization bill is awful. It restricts the use of SAAs, forces NASA to put safety first as a criteria for selection for CCtCap (eventhough there is already strict safety regulations for commercial crew). The House appropriation bill forces NASA to downselect to one commercial crew provider. A lot of these idiotic provisions comes from Edwards. She is anti-commercial space.

  • MORE REALITY

    Interesting article in Space News. Seems ULA had a chat with the Russians and their rhetoric about the RD-180. Now the biggest enemy of the RD-180 is Congress.

    http://spacenews.com/article/military-space/41507notwithstanding-sanctions-ula-standing-by-for-rd-180-deliveries-through

    • RockyMtnSpace

      Hmmmm … That is interesting.

      • Dick Eagleson

        Yeah, it was. The most interesting part was the Aug. 20 date for expected delivery of the next pair of RD-180′s. That’s two weeks away. The day of reckoning is even closer than I had thought.

        As for the rest, it ain’t Roscosmos’s call. It ain’t NPO Energomash’s call. It ain’t RD Amross’s call. It ain’t ULA’s call. It ain’t Rogozin’s call. It’s Putin’s call.

    • RockyMtnSpace

      RD-180′s delivered as scheduled. Looks like some here reckoned wrong. Sucks when reality up and bites you on the ass.

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