Budget: December 2010 Archives

NASA spending $500 million for canceled rocket, Orlando Sentinel

"Thanks to congressional inaction, NASA must continue to fund its defunct Ares I rocket program until March -- a requirement that will cost the agency nearly $500 million at a time when NASA is struggling with the expensive task of replacing the space shuttle. About one-third that money -- $165 million -- will go to Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, which has a $2 billion contract to build the solid-rocket first stage for the Ares I, the rocket that was supposed to fill the shuttle's role of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. But under a new NASA plan signed into law by President Barack Obama in October, there's no guarantee that the new rocket required by that plan will use solid-fuel propulsion. And, in fact, many in the agency say a liquid-fueled rocket would be cheaper, more powerful -- and safer."

Why NASA Is Spending Half a Billion Dollars on a Canceled Rocket, Fox News

"Stifled by legislative bottlenecks, NASA will be forced to continue an already defunct rocket program until March, costing the agency half a billion dollars while adding more hurdles to the imminent task of replacing the space shuttle."

NASA forced to pay half billion for rocket to nowhere, Federal Times

"The language was placed into the 2010 budget by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and keeps the whole Constellation program going until March 4, at a cost of $1.2 billion."

NASA's new year will start like the old year with funding uncertainty, Huntsville Times

"In part, NASA Headquarters blames U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, with whom the White House fought all year over space policy. But Shelby's office says that there is no reason NASA can't move forward. "NASA is just making excuses and continuing to drag its feet, just as it has done for the past two years under the Obama administration," Shelby spokesman Jonathan Graffeo said Wednesday."

Senate Appropriations Committee: Summary of Continuing Resolution through March 4, 2011

"Under the CR, funding would continue at FY 2010 enacted levels for most programs."

Senate Nears Deal on Funding Bill, WS Journal

"Under the Senate deal set on Sunday, funding for most federal agencies and departments would continue at levels authorized for fiscal year 2010, though some programs would see slight increases. Overall, funding would be about $1.2 billion above the levels authorized in last year's budget. The House would also have to approve the spending measure."

Senators Vow To Enforce NASA Authorization Act, Space News

"Nelson also asked whether NASA plans to carry out an additional flight of the space shuttle next year as authorized in the new law. Robinson said the agency plans to conduct the additional flight to the International Space Station. "The only caveat I would put forth is we still don't have a final appropriations [act], so we don't know if we have the money to carry it out," she said. "We're trying to quantify what it means to hedge our bets in case there's a drastic change in funding level, but we have every intention of moving forward on that."

Keith's note: NASA has to make a decision in January/February 2011 as to whether it can accomplish STS-135. Given the way that Congress is not cooperating with itself, having to live under this CR until March 2011 would make STS-135 somewhat problematical. Other problems such as Webb's mounting cost overrun are not going to make things any better.

Senate Stopgap Funding Proposal Does Not Address NASA, Space News

"Unlike the House bill, H.R. 3082, the Senate amendment does not weigh-in on NASA, which could mean the agency will be forced to operate in the coming months at spending rates proportional to the $18.72 appropriated for all of 2010. In addition, NASA would be prohibited from initiating new programs, and could be required to continue spending about $200 million per month on the Moon-bound Constellation program U.S. President Barack Obama sought to abandon in the $19 billion budget blueprint for 2011 that the White House sent lawmakers in February."

Keith's update: This does not look good for STS-135. Nor does it bode well for trying to kick off any SOMD/ESMD merger and reprioritization/reorganization of programs since nothing can be killed and nothing can be started.

Budget Update

House Passes Short-term CR, Space News

"The U.S. House of Representatives approved a short-term spending measure to continue funding the federal government at 2010 levels through Dec. 21. If approved by the U.S. Senate, the measure will give lawmakers in that chamber time to complete work on a longer-term spending package for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1."

House Passes Year-Long CR, NASA Would Get $18.9 Billion, Space Policy online

"CR's typically extend an agency's existing budget for a certain period of time, but the version passed yesterday by the House is different. While the total amount of funding in the bill, $1.09 trillion, is the same as the current level according to Politico, NASA's budget, for example, would rise from its FY2010 level, though is still less than the request. The CR also spells out in some detail how NASA is to spend the money, not unlike a traditional appropriations measure."

House passes NASA budget, gives $169 million more to heavy-lift

"North Alabama's two Republican congressmen, Rep. Parker Griffith of Huntsville and Rep. Robert Aderholt of Haleyville, voted against the bill despite its boost for NASA."

Full Year CR: House Amendment to Senate Amendment to H.R. 3082 (NASA Excerpt)

"SEC. 2206. Notwithstanding section 1101, the level for the following accounts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall be as follows: ..."

Draft Spending Bill Increases NASA's Budget by $186M over 2010, Space News

"The draft resolution also includes $1.2 billion for Lockheed Martin's Orion crew capsule, $100 million more than called for in the Senate appropriations measure and the new authorization act. The draft language also includes a passage that would allow NASA to cancel the Ares family of rockets Obama targeted for termination in his 2011 spending proposal and to initiate new programs, a key hurdle the agency has sought to overcome since the start of the 2011 budget year Oct. 1. Another $1.8 billion would fund NASA's space shuttle orbiters in 2011, including $825 million for "additional Space Shuttle costs."

NASA budget funds third shuttle launch, Orlando Sentinel

"The news isn't all good for Florida, however. Congressional appropriators want NASA to cut more than $200 million, or about half the money that had been earmarked to begin modernizing the badly outdated launch facilities at KSC next year."

Nelson: Obama administration is not 'helping' NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Tensions between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the White House openly erupted Wednesday when the Florida Democrat used a packed Senate hearing to accuse the administration of dragging its feet on a new NASA law that Nelson had a hand in crafting. Nelson said the Senate had received word that NASA and "other parts of the administration" were working to undermine the law -- which aims to replace the retiring space shuttle with a new "heavy lift" rocket and crew capsule -- and instead pursue Obama's earlier plans that focused more on technology development. However, he offered no definitive examples or proof. Still, his insistent questioning of John Holdren, who is Obama's science adviser, finally prompted an exasperated Holdren to declare, "We are going to follow the law. I can't emphasize that enough."

Senators Push NASA to Carry Out Revamping, NY Times

"Congressional members from Utah, where Alliant builds the solid rocket motors, have also expressed worries that NASA is looking for a way around the law. Two weeks ago, they met with Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, and Lori Garver, the deputy administrator. "We wanted to have some assurance that NASA understood intent of the laws," said Representative Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah. "I don't think we were terribly satisfied." Mr. Bishop called the answers from General Bolden "both vague and inconsistent."

Senators Say NASA Isn't Implementing Programs, WS Journal

"The hearing started with lawmakers voicing complaints that NASA was trying to circumvent or delay complying with some congressionally mandated priorities, including developing new heavy-lift launchers derived from solid-propellant technology used on the retiring fleet of space shuttles. "If it is dragged out and we don't have a design" for the new family of rockets, according to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas), "we could lose the whole" effort to stay ahead of other countries in manned exploration of space."

Senate punts on NASA appropriations bill, Nature

"When it comes to funding NASA, lawmakers are lately working down to the wire. The night before the October recess, Congress passed an Authorization Act for the agency, mandating a $19 billion budget for FY2011. But legislators were unable to pass the appropriations bill needed to actually provide the funds, instead relying on a continuing resolution that froze funding at FY2010 levels and prohibited the agency from terminating programs or starting new ones. Congress must now decide how, and for how long, it intends to fund NASA before the continuing resolution expires on 3 December."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Budget category from December 2010.

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