Senate Rejects Obama's Space Plan

NASA budget fight - Is Utah emerging as rival to KSC?, Orlando Sentinel

"The Senate subcommittee charged with NASA oversight will present a $19 billion bill this week that kills President Barack Obama's proposed shakeup of the agency's human-spaceflight program, in the process cutting billions from commercial rocket and technology projects that supporters say would have benefited Kennedy Space Center. A draft of the bill, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, was presented to NASA last week by the committee, chaired by Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. So far the White House has not commented on the bill, but several Florida Space Coast leaders have expressed concern about its impact here."

Keith's note: Additional detail via NASA Watch sources: This authorization bill covers FY 2011-2013 - i.e. the period of time that the Obama Administration will have influence on budget plans. During FY 2011- 2013 President Obama had wanted to spend $3.3 Billion on commercial space. The draft legislation under consideration would now utterly gut the President's proposed commercial program to the point that its value as a "commercial" activity would be called into question.

In the proposed draft, commercial activities would now receive the following: $150M in FY 2011, $275M in FY 2012, and $464M in FY 2013 - for a total of $889M. That's barely a quarter of what the White House proposed. Moreover, NASA would also be precluded from entering into any commercial crew contracts in FY 2011. In addition, work on an advanced hydrocarbon engine would be halted. Also, all of the new technology that was to be funded gets eviscerated as well by as much as 50%.

At face value, this "compromise" would reverse the White House's plans and bring back a "lite" version of Constellation and fatally wound any attempt at a meaningful commercial participation in the future of American space exploration. This authorization bill will eventually find its way to the President's desk. Will he sign it? I don't think so. Add in a looming CR, and America's human spaceflight program is about to go into a year of stasis and confusion.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 12, 2010 6:59 AM.

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