Nelson maps a road forward on space without Constellation, Orlando Sentinel
"Although Nelson mentions Ares I and Orion's contracts and assets - the first-phase rocket and crew capsule, respectively, of Constellation -- he does not talk about the program at all. Gone too is any mention of a vigorous test flight program for which Nelson recently requested $726 million. Nelson's spokesman, Dan McLaughlin, said that upon reflection lawmakers decided that it was up to "NASA as to how to get started on HLV as soon as possible." Nelson's approach appears to be an attempt at compromise with critics of the president's plans who have attacked the proposals as a "road to nowhere" that cedes U.S. leadership in space."
"Thank you for your letter of February 16, 2010, outlining your principles for drafting the fiscal year 2011 funding bill for NASA. I share fully your sentiment that our committees must work together to define the best path forward for America's space program. Over the last four months, I have been studying the President's budget request, as well as various alternative proposals, in determining how we can best move ahead to the next era of human space flight. I write today to share with you some of the key elements that have emerged from that review, including discussions with Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison, Senator Vitter, and other members of our Committee, which will form the bipartisan foundation of a NASA authorization bill."
"In a statement issued by her office June 14, Mikulski said the elements of the authorization bill outlined in Nelson's letter offer "an alternative framework for NASA's human space flight program that could snap us out of the 'stagnant quo.'" "I look forward to seeing the details and how this alternative meets the principles outlined in my February 16, 2010 letter: astronaut safety, mission destination, balanced space program, scientific utilization of human space flight, workforce transition, and taxpayer protection," she said."