NASA commitment to Senate wishes questioned, Space.com/MSNBC
"Nelson had no luck getting NASA officials to pin down the date by which the agency could begin testing Orion atop the core elements of the congressionally mandated rocket. "I want to know how soon you can get testing the initial heavy-lift capability with the proposed funding levels," Nelson told Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems. Cooke demurred, citing ongoing studies, but said the agency "is trying to get test flights as early as 2016," the year the law says the initial capability must be operational. Cooke also said the president's latest budget request, which increases spending for commercial crew transportation and space technology research, reflects the administration's agenda."