NASA faces deadline for tough decisions on shuttle, Forbes via AP
"NASA is facing a critical deadline to make its biggest decision in a generation: whether to go forward with plans to retire the space shuttle fleet and replace it with a new mode of space travel. But the agency still has no chief to make the $230 billion call."
NASA seems so far off the White House radar, said one presidential expert, that it might as well be on Pluto.
"I think that tells you something," said New York University public policy professor Paul Light, an expert in presidential appointments. "The lack of announced appointees is a sign of its priority within the administration."
Editor's note: Ouch, hmmm makes you wonder about the Administrations' commitment to NASA.
Editor's Update: And the news gets better.
NASA moon landing could be delayed, Orlando Sentinel
"NASA's plans to return astronauts to the moon are quietly being revised and are in danger of slipping past 2020.
In meetings over the last few weeks at Kennedy Space Center, agency managers have told employees and contractors that they are delaying the first lunar launch of the Ares V rocket -- a cargo hauler slated to be the most powerful rocket ever built -- by two years."
Frank's note: How much worse does it have to get before we as a community of spacers come together to call for support for human spaceflight from our political "leaders"? Go to the President's web site at whitehouse.gov and urge him to put his money-and his mouth-behind the civil space program-before there isn't anything left to rally around. The hour is grave-isn't it a time for a call to action from us all?
Editor's Update: The lack of a NASA administrator now causing real harm, Houston Chronicle
"UPDATE: Here are some comments made this morning by deputy space shuttle program manager LeRoy Cain on the effects of uncertainty on the space shuttle:
We're at a pivotal point. ... As we move forward in time it becomes more difficult from a funding standpoint because what we're doing is shaping the workforce and shaping the content of work for a completion of the shuttle mission in Sept. 2010. As we get closer and closer to the end it becomes more and more difficult, it requires more and more money to turn that around.
Since last Fall we have been asked through legislation to maintain the ability to continue and extend the shuttle through "Do Not Preclude" language through April of this year. We are coming to the end of that timeline.
In other words, April 30 looms as a very significant date."
Weight Forcing NASA To Shrink Orion Crew, Aviation Week
"NASA engineers are "on the verge" of pulling two crew seats from their design for the Orion crew exploration vehicle, at least at first, to save weight.
That would mean that when NASA regains the ability to fly astronauts to orbit in the post-shuttle era, it will start with a crew of four instead of six. Four seats have been the baseline for the version of Orion that would take astronauts back to the Moon, but the initial operational capability (IOC) to deliver crew to the International Space Station (ISS) currently calls for a six-seat version."