March 2004 Archives

13 March 2003: Important Notice to all NASA LaRC Contractors

"The Center's Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Finance has determined that it is prudent to make early payments prior to closing the legacy financial system. Invoices received between April 16 and May 7, 2003, will not be subject to the Prompt Payment Act waiting period and will be paid early."

Earlier entries

12 March 2004: Significant role ahead for Marshall on new craft, Huntsville Times

"Retired Navy Rear Adm. Craig Steidle, head of NASA's new Office of Exploration Systems, stopped short of promising that the Crew Exploration Vehicle, or CEV, program would be managed in Huntsville - like its predecessor, the Orbital Space Plane."

10 March 2004: CEV Fly off in 2008?

Editor's note: Word has it that Code T AA Craig Steidle is working on a plan whereby there would be a fly-off of two competing CEV designs sometime in CY 2008. No word yet as to when the RFP for such a program would be released but one would assume that having hardware in 2008 would require some swift procurement activity starting ... yesterday.

Editor's note: According to a NASA Watch reader Steidle was asked about this after his NAC presentation in Huntsville. "Steidle has a chart that points to a procurement line between two teams and in 2008 there is a downselect. That chart looked like there was no way but to go with a fly-off. Steidle said it could be two technology demonstrators and not even a CEV with a moldline that would become a CEV. Or it could be a boilerplate fly-off with some CEV related technology. He doesn't know yet. The field is wide open, he said."

19 February 2004: NASA plane jobs may stay in place, Huntsville Times

"Mark McDaniel, a member of the NASA Advisory Council and a Huntsville lawyer, believes the work will stay in Huntsville - if only because, he said, it can't be done effectively anywhere else."

Editor's note: Huh? "Can't be effectively done elsewhere?" Gee Mark, America's space program is in big trouble if it "can't be done elsewhere". You might want to read up on the topic - especially MSFC's track record on X-33, X-34, X-37, ISS propulsion Module ...

19 February 2004: Space plane cancellation made official, Huntsville Times

"During a teleconference last month, NASA Associate Administrator Craig Steidle said it's too early to say what the new vehicle would look like or how much of the Orbital Space Plane work could be transferred into the new concept. Steidle heads the Office of Exploration Systems, the office charged with developing the Crew Exploration Vehicle."

17 February 2004: Design, Development, and Delivery of an Orbital Space Plane: Modification to a Previous NASA Presolicitation Notice, NASA MSFC

"This procurement is hereby cancelled in its entirety. No final RFP will be issued, nor will proposals submitted in response to the draft RFP be accepted."

24 November 2003: OSP Demo Center Update

"Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences are funding the center. The purpose is to provide a place to show our team's current concepts for the OSP and how we are addressing key safety issues, launch operations and autonomous operations with the ISS. Specifically, the center displays two concepts our team has developed in response to NASA's top-level OSP requirements. It also contains a full-scale simulated OSP cockpit. The center provides a place for decision-makers and stakeholders to visualize and understand the OSP concepts." Julie Andrews Communications - Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.

20 November 2003: Lockheed Martin Opens Orbital Space Plane Demonstration Center in Washington, D.C.

"Lockheed Martin will unveil a new Orbital Space Plane Demonstration Center this week in the Washington, D.C. area. Dedicated to the accomplishments of human spaceflight, the Center will showcase the concepts and operational qualities of NASA's next space transportation system through simulators and interactive graphics."

Editor's note: How can this facility
"showcase the concepts and operational qualities of NASA's next space transportation system" if NASA has not even selected an OSP contractor yet? Also, who is the audience for this facility - and what is it supposed to accomplish? Is it designed to wow NASA personnel, members of Congress and their staff? The media? The general public? Finally, who is paying for this? I have sent an email inquiry to the listed press contacts - and have yet to hear back from any of them.

13 November 2003: Key Lawmakers Step Up Efforts To Delay Orbital Space Plane, Aerospace Daily

"Leaders of the House Science Committee have stepped up their resistance to NASA's new Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program, proposing that an appropriations measure defer the spacecraft's development until the U.S. government comes up with a vision for space exploration."

11 November 2003: Lockheed Martin to Open "OSP Demo Center"

Editor's note: Lockheed Martin will soon be opening an "OSP Demo Center" In Crystal City on 18 November 2003. Among the things to do there is a OSP simulator and a video presentation narrated by Patrick Stewart (Star Trek's Jean luc Picard). The Demo Center is located at Airport Plaza 1, Suite 101, 2711 Jefferson Davis Highway, Crystal City, Virginia (Map). Invitations are being sent out, so I am not certain you can just walk in and take a tour.

3 November 2003: Boeing Establishes Orbital Space Program Office

3 November 2003: Lockheed Martin Achieves Key Milestone in Crew Escape Demonstration

3 November 2003: Planetary Society Urges Delay in Orbital Space Plane Decision

3 November 2003: NASA Presolicitation Notice: Design, Development, and Delivery of an Orbital Space Plane

"NASA/MSFC intends to negotiate additional scope under existing contracts, and solicit and consider proposals under a limited competition, only with the Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company and a team consisting of the Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Orbital Sciences Corporation, for the design, development, test, delivery, and flight certification of an Orbital Space Plane (OSP)."

29 October 2003: Orbital Space Plane: Boehlert and Hall Respond to New O'Keefe Letter, House Science Committee

"Unfortunately, NASA's response does not directly address either of the concerns we raised in our letter. It does not explain how the Orbital Space Plane fits into an overall vision for the human space flight program, but rather acknowledges that such a vision is still being developed. It does not explain why the spending proposals for OSP are credible, but rather suggests that Congress continue spending now and make decisions about the program later."

29 October 2003: Letter from NASA Administrator O'Keefe to House Science Committee Boehlert regarding the Orbital Space Plane

27 October 2003: Boehlert and Hall Urge O'Keefe to "Defer the Current" Orbital Space Plane Program, House Science Committee

29 October 2003: Orbital Space Plane must prove its need, experts say, Huntsville Times

"Congress wants a definite road map for NASA priorities, Cowing said, one that would outline what plans are for the space plane, space station and space shuttle. "They want schedules," he said."

27 October 2003: Boehlert and Hall Urge O'Keefe to "Defer the Current" Orbital Space Plane Program, House Science Committee

"Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Ranking Democrat Ralph M. Hall (D-TX) recently sent a letter to NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, expressing their "deep concern with NASA's current approach to the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program," and urging O'Keefe to "defer the current program until the inter-agency space review is completed, approved by the President, and thoroughly vetted with the Congress."

14 October 2003: Lockheed Martin's Orbital Space Plane Team Now Includes Orbital Sciences Corporation

"Lockheed Martin will lead the team as the system prime contractor. Northrop Grumman's role will be as principal teammate while Orbital Sciences Corporation will serve as teammate and subcontractor."

7 October 2003: NASA Changes The Focus Of Future ISS Cargo Delivery Plans, SpaceRef

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional input about what actually went on during this meeting. Previous accounts were incomplete and somewhat misleading. I regret these omissions and hope my updates more accurately reflect what was said by those in attendance.

6 October 2003: OSP Costs, Shutting off Shuttle, Alt Access, and Markup plans

Editor's note: Dennis Smith was making the rounds on Capitol Hill last week. He is telling staff that the cost of getting to a CRV (crew return) capability for the OSP - by 2008 - will cost between $11-12 billion. The cost to get the OSP to have a CTV (crew transport) capability atop an EELV is still not known - at least Smith has not been able to provide those numbers to Congress.

The four contractors funded by NASA in FY 2003 to do Alt Access studies for ISS logistics and resupply will be meeting with at NASA HQ tomorrow. NASA recently extended the contracts for these four companies with $4 million divided among the four.

Meanwhile the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics will be marking up a number of things this Wednesday including Rep. Gordon's H.R.2450 which seeks to "provide for the establishment of an independent, Presidentially-appointed investigative Commission in the event of incidents in the Nation's human space flight program that result in loss of crew, passengers, or the spacecraft, and for other purposes." Rep. Rohrabacher's H.R.914
which seeks to "amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax incentives for investing in companies involved in space-related activities."

Meanwhile an effort is reportedly underway at Code B at NASA Headquarters that looks at possible ramifications that might result from shutting down Shuttle operations after 3 or so years - as soon as ISS assembly is completed. When asked to comment on this study last Friday, OSF AA Bill Readdy said that he "was not aware of this study."

29 September 2003: Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Join Forces to Develop NASA's Orbital Space Plane

"Lockheed Martin Corporation's Space Systems Company and Northrop Grumman Corporation's Integrated Systems sector have moved NASA a significant step closer to its goal of launching a safe, affordable Orbital Space Plane (OSP) by 2008."

24 September 2003: Space plane taking shape in Huntsville, Huntsville Times

"[Dennis] Smith said NASA will issue a call Nov. 26 for Orbital Space Plane proposals, and the final shape - capsule or space plane - will be known by the end of December. In the spring, contractors will issue their proposals, and by next August NASA will choose the contractor team to build the Orbital Space Plane."

24 September 2003: Say no to NASA, yes to private companies, USA Today

"For the United States to get a shuttle replacement soon and at a reasonable cost, it is imperative that Congress force NASA to return to its roots. Had the nearly $5 billion the government wasted in the past two decades gone instead to some of the upstart private companies struggling to build new commercial spacecraft, we might already have a shuttle replacement flying right now."

23 September 2003: The Orbital Space Plane: NASA Racing On A Dead-End Street, Op Ed by Don Peterson, Former Astronaut, SpaceRef

"The NASA workforce is the most talented, dedicated, ingenuous, industrious group of people I have ever known in my 43 years of aerospace experience. Surely, with this unparalleled resource, NASA management can find some better way to spend five or more years and billions of dollars than the creation of nothing more than a "Super-Sized" Soyuz. That's a dead-end street."

23 September 2003: NASA speeds effort to create space plane, Houston Chronicle

"Under the proposal announced Tuesday, a "transport" version capable of carrying four people to the station, as well as back to Earth, could be ready as soon as 2010, although the official target date would remain 2012."

23 September 2003: NASA Orbital Space Plane Level 2 Requirements: Executive Summary

23 September 2003: NASA Completes Orbital Space Plane Design Review, NASA

"NASA's Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program is one step closer to becoming the nation's next space vehicle with the successful completion of its Systems Requirements Review. The review evaluated the vehicle's concept design for providing crew rescue and transfer for the International Space Station."

18 Feburary 2003: NASA Sets Initial Requirements for Orbital Space Plane System

6 March 2003: Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Level I Requirements Program Interpretation Document (Text version)

28 April 2003: Report on Top-Level Assessment of Use of Apollo Systems for ISS CRV

16 July 2003: NASA Human Rating Requirement and Guidelines for Space Flight Systems Now Online

8 September 2003: "NASA's Implementation Plan for Return to Flight and Beyond", NASA HQ

"This report is the agency's blueprint for acting on the recommendations from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) and safely returning to flight. This document is an initial outline to help guide the Space Shuttle Program."

2 September 2003: Lawmakers to hear NASA chief, accident investigator, Orlando Sentinel

"It is difficult for Congress to be appropriating money at a phantom," said Gordon, D-Tenn. "There has to be a goal."

Editor's note: For once I agree 100% with Bart.

2 September 2003: NASA to Release RTF Plan

Editor's note: In a telecon with reporters today House Science Committee Majority Staff Director David Goldston said that NASA will be releasing a RTF (Return to Flight) plan next monday.

4 September 2003: First Boeing Delta IV Heavy Candidate to Launch the OSP Is Assembled for Tests, Aviation Week

The first U.S. Air Force/Boeing "Delta IV Heavy" Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, a strong candidate to be the next U.S. manned launch vehicle, has been assembled here in preparation for rollout to Launch Pad 37B for several months of checkout before a demonstration flight in May 2004.

15 August 2003: One Nuclear Leap to Mars?, Science (subscription required for full access)

"NASA's aspirations are more nebulous. In the wake of the Columbia disaster, the agency is undergoing an internal review of its priorities. In human space exploration, the completion and operation of the ISS is expected to be affirmed as the agency's top priority. But laying the groundwork for Mars could become a more visible part of the ISS's raison d'etre."

11 August 2003: NASA Presolicitation Notice: X-37 Long Duration Orbital Vehicle, NASA

12 August 2003: Boeing's sanctions may hurt progress of X-37 at Marshall, Huntsville Times

"That's the issue. If Boeing can compete for it, then that will have an effect on price," Dumbacher said. "If there is competition, then that keeps the price down. "If there is a decision made that Boeing can't provide a proposal, then I don't know what we would do after that."

Editor's Note: Boeing has NASA in a pincher hold: they build the X-37 and they are one of the two potential ELV launch providers. Now Boeing is whining and complaining about everything - and NASA seems to have fallen for it. Whatever legal/financial problems Boeing is experiencing are not of NASA's making - and NASA should not have to be penalized as a result. Meanwhile, it is time for someone at MSFC to show a little spine - and a little creativity - when dealing with this issue. Hey, wasn't an X-37 launch from a Shuttle cargo bay one of the original options?

29 July 2003: NASA Presolicitation Notice: Design, Development, and Delivery of an Orbital Space Plane, NASA MSFC

"NASA/MSFC intends to negotiate additional scope under existing contracts, and solicit and consider proposals under a limited competition, only with the Lockheed Martin Corporation, The Boeing Company and a team consisting of the Northrop Grumman Corporation and the Orbital Sciences Corporation, for the design, development, test, delivery, and flight certification of an Orbital Space Plane (OSP)."

"The objective of the potential acceleration enabled through this action is to provide initial operational capability of the OSP system as soon as practical, and the associated benefits to ISS utility and crew, up to two years earlier (from 2010 to as early as 2008 or sooner)."

30 July 2003: NASA wants space plane to start flying 2 years early, Orlando Sentinel

"The lack of detail has generated rumblings in Congress, where lawmakers complain that they can't make long-term policy or budget decisions for the agency until there's a clearer picture of the space plane."

14 July 2003: Scuttle the Shuttle! Foundation Urges, Space Frontier Foundation

"None of the Shuttle's capabilities are indispensable, argued Tumlinson, and the ISS should not be used as an excuse to keep flying it at the risk of more astronauts lives. If needed, the Russians can keep it going, or it can be mothballed until it can be taken over by a private Space Port Authority, and then operated, serviced and expanded by private spaceships and cargo vehicles. Now is exactly the right time for a change that can eventually open space to the people who have paid for it all."

Editor's Note: This editorial is so full of contradictions and nutty conclusions as to make me wonder if anyone even bothered to read it before it was released. This paragraph alone causes me to wonder. Here is the logic as best I can figure it out: it is not OK to risk astronaut's lives flying on a Space Shuttle but it is OK to risk Russian cosmonaut's lives flying in a Soyuz or those of other people flying in some "private spaceship". Until a cogent, logical argument with logical premises and solutions - can be made by this - or any other organization - as to what to do with the Shuttle other than "stop flying it" and then wait for some magic to happen in the private sector, they should all just shut up and sit down. The last thing this situation needs right now is noise and random arm waving.

10 July 2003: NASA Presolicitation Notice: X-37 Long Duration Orbital Vehicle, NASA

"NASA/MSFC intends to negotiate on a sole source basis with The Boeing Company Phantom Works Southern California for a long duration orbital vehicle (LDOV) technology demonstrator under the Advanced Technology Flight Demonstration Vehicle (X-37) Project."

2 July 2003: NASA Solar System Exploration Roadmap 2003 Online

30 June 2003: NASA Goes Shopping for a Shuttle Successor, Off the Rack, NY Times

"Sean O'Keefe, NASA's administrator, said he wanted industry to use simple off-the-shelf technology for the new system. "We are not trying to push the envelope here," he said. "We are taking the `KISS and tell' approach: Keep It Simple, Stupid, and tell us the best way to get what we need."

12 May 2003: Skeptics Say Shuttle Worn Out, Obsolete, Washington Post

"Beyond the immediate cause of the accident, "the whole question" of extending the life of the shuttles is "on the table," said retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., chairman of the investigating board. Gehman said the board's final report will address these concerns and present remedies that could add considerably to the cost and complexity of flying the reusable space planes."

8 May 2003: Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin 8 May 2003 (part 1) (part 2)

8 May 2003: Prepared Statement by Jerry Grey 8 May 2003 (part 1) (part 2)

8 May 2003: Prepared Statement by Dale Meyers 8 May 2003

8 May 2003: Prepared Statement by Fred Gregory 8 May 2003 (part 1) (part 2)

8 May 2003: Prepared Statement by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher 8 May 2003

8 May 2003: Hearing Charter: NASA's Integrated Space Transportation Plan and Orbital Space Plane Program

9 May 2003: Aviation Week Reports Unanimous Criticism of NASA Safety

"Aviation Week & Space Technology reports in its May 12 issue that out of about 60 key NASA and contractor managers and technicians interviewed by the Columbia Accident Board on shuttle safety, "not a single person said that the NASA quality program is where it ought to be", investigators told the magazine."

8 May 2003: NASA's Future Space Transportation Plan Lacks Clear Goals and Vision, House Science Committee

"Citing a lack of specific goals and a broad vision, Members of a key House Subcommittee expressed frustration over NASA's proposed new Integrated Space Transportation Plan (ISTP) and Orbital Space Plane (OSP). They also echoed witness concerns that the current plan gives the U.S. few capabilities above what is currently available and will come at an undetermined cost."

8 May 2003: Congressman: NASA should scrap shuttle, UPI

"I am not going to vote for any funding for the existing orbiter to go back to space," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said at a half-day hearing on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's proposed Orbital Space Plane, a crew transport craft."

8 May 2003: Science Committee Democrats Unconvinced of Orbital Space Plane Rationale, House Science Committee, Democratic Membership

"Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX) added: "NASA's proposed Orbital Space Plane program won't deliver a Space Station crew return vehicle until four years after we need it, and it will cost billions of dollars more than the X-38/CRV program that was cancelled by the Administration. I think that 's both shortsighted and wasteful. We can do better."

4 May 2003: What Would NASA Do If A Soyuz Landed In America?, SpaceRef

"The location of the Soyuz TMA spacecraft was unknown for a few hours - but an experienced recovery team soon found it. But what would happen if a Soyuz landed outside of the traditional recovery zone in Kazakhstan - such as on a large flat plain in America?"

Editor's note: This story contains links to the text of a number of previously unreleased NASA Soyuz contingency planning documents.

28 April 2003: Report on Top-Level Assessment of Use of Apollo Systems for ISS CRV 17 March 2003, NASA HQ

"A small team was chartered by NASA to make a top-level assessment of the viability of using the Apollo Command and Service Modules the basis for a Crew Return Vehicle, and potentially for a Crew Transfer Vehicle, for the International Space Station. This assessment was conducted 13-14 March 2003."

Editor's note: The complete report - including all tables - is now online

1 May 2003: Alan Boyle's Cosmiclog, MSNBC

"SpaceRef's Keith Cowing, who broke the Apollo story, said today that "it's not clear what the real reason is behind these discussions, other than that many options are being looked at, and there will be hearings next week on Capitol Hill, and you can guarantee that all sides of the issue will be aired." Cowing observed that some people think using an updated Apollo capsule would represent a step backward, while others see it as a step forward. "If America is looking to build a capsule simply because it doesn't have money to build something more sophisticated, with wings, then shame on us," he said. "However, if this capsule and the modular approach - an approach that could include missions outside low Earth orbit - is what's under consideration, then yahoo!"

29 April 2003: Speech by Rep. Dave Weldon at the 2003 Space Congress

"My studying of space policy and history have led me to consider the conclusion that an expendable, capsule system akin to the Apollo Command Module may be the best way to do this."

8 May 2003: Apollo module could be space station lifeboat, The Guardian

"Revisiting decades old technology may seem a backwards step, but it could make sense, said Keith Cowing, a former Nasa scientist who posted the report on his Nasawatch website. "A capsule is cheap and safe and if you aim it right then the laws of physics will make it land," he said. "But it's not clear what the real reason is behind these discussions."

24 March 2003: Orbital's Fortunes Launched Again, Washington Post

"Orbital acknowledges that its relatively small size could hamper its bid for a NASA contract to build a next-generation vehicle that could be used to shuttle astronauts to the international space station. So it teamed with Northrop Grumman Corp. for the competition, which will pit them against Lockheed and Boeing."

20 March 2003: Space plane runs into criticism
, Orlando Sentinel

"Members of NASA's Advisory Council complained Thursday that the agency's decision to build an orbital space plane rather than a full-fledged replacement for the space shuttle betrayed a lack of vision for the future of the nation's space program."

6 March 2003: Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Level I Requirements Program Interpretation Document (Text) (PDF)

"The purpose of this document is to provide a clear understanding and consistent interpretation of the Mission Needs Statement (MNS), Level 1 Requirements, and the Operations Concept as approved by the NASA Executive Council for the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) Program. These three documents should be considered as an integrated set of documents, which provides a basis of understanding such that the OSP Program can develop the lower level requirements and the Program Plan."

3 March 2003: Spaceships of future still lacking, Washington Times

"The normal job for the OSP will be crew exchange. A four-person crew will use an OSP as its transportation to and from the space station. The OSP they launch in will serve as their lifeboat for their four- to six-month stay in space. After the new crew has settled in, the outgoing crew will return to Earth in its OSP. Besides OSP, the Russian Soyuz will continue to be used for an additional three persons. Normally there will be a seven-person crew on the station, three using the Soyuz for transport and four using an OSP."

Editor's note: the author is making a lot of assumptions here - and stating them as certainties. In reality, NASA has not yet decided whether OSP crew transport vehicles and those left on orbit as CRVs will necessarily be the same or different spacecraft. Nor has any formal decision past the middle of this decade been made with regard to the continued provision of Soyuz spacecraft by Russia. Moreover, it is still not a given that the crew complement will be 7.

18 February 2003: NASA Sets Initial Requirements for Orbital Space Plane System, NASA

"3. NASA envisions that the systems for crew rescue and crew transport could be different versions of the same vehicle design."

18 February 2003: NASA Sets Initial Requirements for Orbital Space Plane System

"NASA today released the top level requirements for the Orbital Space Plane - a next generation system of space vehicles designed to provide a crew rescue and crew transport capability to and from the International Space Station. These requirements set the foundation for the design of the vehicle and its associated systems."

15 February 2003: NASA plans for its future - 'Space plane' may be used by 2010 for rescues, Daily News

"Less than three weeks after the Columbia tragedy grounded the U.S. space shuttle fleet, NASA is expected to release to aerospace companies its requirements for a new spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station."

15 February 2003: NASA steps up planning for Orbital Space Plane, Baltimore Sun

"We've been told to implement the plan," Dennis Smith, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's program manager for the Orbital Space Plane, said yesterday. "What we've been asking ourselves is if there is any way we can do anything to speed things up."

30 January 2003: Consulting Services NASA's Orbital Space Plane Vehicle

"NASA/HQ intends to purchase these services from Dr. Daniel Mulville under the authority of 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1), Only One Responsible Source. Dr. Daniel Mulville has nearly 3 decades of experience in the development and management of the NASA space vehicle programs. He is a recognized expert on these matters throughout NASA and elsewhere in government."

28 January 2003: OSP Level 1 Requirements Due Soon

Editor's note: Sean O'Keefe visited MSFC last week with OSF AA Bill Readdy. Among the topics discussed were the Level 1 Requirements for the Orbital Space Plane. Word has it, at O'Keefe's direction, that the OSP requirements were to be succinct enough so as to fit on one page. They apparently meet that requirement.

14 January 2003: New NASA Program Doomed to Failure, NASA Should Explain Failures, Space Frontier Foundation Tells Congress

"The initiation of NASA's latest space transport program, the Orbital Space Plane (OSP), was challenged today by the Space Frontier Foundation, which estimates the program's chances of success at zero."

9 March 2004: House Science Committee Democrats Release Their Views and Estimates Report

"Recommendation #2: Until the Congress has better information on which to judge the long-term cost of the President's Moon/Mars initiative, we believe that NASA's FY 2005 funding request should be reallocated in a manner that strengthens NASA's existing programs, helps address the backlog of deferred maintenance at NASA's facilities, ensures that the Shuttle will continue to fly safely for as long as it is needed, ensures that the International Space Station will be a safe and productive facility, makes a start on a replacement means of getting U.S. astronauts into space, and enables the analyses that will be needed to develop a viable and sustainable exploration agenda."

9 March 2004: House Science Committee Hearing: Outside Experts to Give Their Views on the President's Space Exploration Plan

"The Committee will focus on the following overarching questions: Are the cost estimates and timetables of the initiative realistic? Is using the moon and the International Space Station as stepping-stones to a Mars mission the best approach? How difficult will it be to develop ways to minimize the impact on human health of long stays in space? Would NASA's budget have the proper balance among NASA's programs under the initiative?"

3 March 2004: Chairman's Mark, 2005 Budget, Senate Budget Committee (PDF)

"For NASA, $15.6 billion, a 1.4-percent increase over 2004. While the Mark supports the President's vision for exploration and discovery, the current budget situation necessitates slower implementation. The resolution assumes fully funding the President's request for NASA in 2006 and beyond."

11 March 2004: Senate Appropriations VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Subcommittee Hearing

6 March 2004: Congressional Preview

Editor's note: House and Senate Democrats are talking of putting the President's space Initiative on hold for at least a year. Some would like to wait for the election to be over. Other Democrats (and many Republicans) have problems with the lack of detail in the budget numbers and overall schedule milestones NASA has been presenting. Talk of holding NASA's budget in FY 2005 to FY 2004 levels with some $60-80 million in additional study money is being discussed among Democrats. Overall, Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic, but there are some deficit hawks who would like to pay off the deficit sooner than the President has suggested and proposed budget increases such as those sought for NASA are a tempting target.

8 March 2004: Bush's space plan stalls, Orlando Sentinel

"McCurdy thinks NASA had hoped a key legislator "would stand up and raise the flag and say 'Let's go! Follow me!' And that hasn't happened." In fact, one lawmaker who is well-positioned to lead such a charge, U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee, says he needs more details about the initiative before he can decide whether to support it in its current form."

9 March 2004: Democratic Presidential Contender Kucinich Calls for Tripling NASA's Budget

"Kucinich, co-sponsor of the Space Exploration Act of 2003, said the current budget for NASA "is far from adequate. Our shuttle fleet is based on 30-year old technology and this is only because of a lack of funding. Although the shuttle program requires $4 billion a year to operate, NASA has been forced to operate the shuttle with a budget of only $3 billion a year."

11 March 2003: NASA OIG: NASA'S Reduction of Undefinitized Contract Actions, NASA OIG (link to full report)

"We found that NASA had significantly reduced both the number and dollar amount of UCAs since the General Accounting Office highlighted them as one reason for identifying contract management as a major management challenge for NASA. By November 30, 2002, NASA had reduced the number of UCAs to 19 with a total estimated value of $61 million, representing reductions of about 90 percent in the number of UCAs and 97 percent in estimated dollar value. We also found that three Centers reviewed had inconsistent policies, which could cause inaccurate UCA reporting on certain relatively low-value contracts."



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