SLS and Orion: April 2010 Archives

Funding for Orion Launch Abort System To Cease April 30, Space News

"Orbital Sciences Corp. is warning subcontractors supporting development of a launch abort system for NASA's Orion crew capsule that funding for the effort will cease April 30, according to industry sources and documents. In an April 20 letter to Minneapolis-based Alliant TechSystems (ATK), one of two companies developing motors for the Orion Launch Abort System, Orbital said Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver would restrict funding for the effort by the end of April."

NASA TV Provides Coverage Of New Launch Abort System Test

"NASA Television will provide live coverage of the May 6 launch of the Pad Abort 1 flight test. The broadcast will begin at 8:30 a.m. EDT from the launch site at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, N.M."

Keith's note: Hmm ... I wonder how will this test can proceed if contractor funding has been stopped a week prior to the actual test? Stay tuned.

Chamber on an Ares mission, Huntsville Times

"At a reception Sunday evening, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby - ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines funding for NASA - said he is doing everything he can to save Constellation, in which the government has already invested $9 billion to establish human presence on the moon and beyond. "If (Republicans) were in control of the Senate, I would tell you exactly what we'd be doing to save Constellation," Shelby said Sunday evening. "If Obama's plan goes through, I'm afraid it's a death march for NASA."

NASA plan: 'Cosmic bridge to nowhere', Huntsville Times

"Brian Hendricks is a staffer for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who also has substantial NASA interests in her state. Hendricks said Hutchison and Shelby have worked together to try to save Constellation and prevent other NASA changes, but thus far a fix hasn't been found. He expressed "profound anger" at Obama's decision, and he said the ability of the commercial world to achieve what NASA has achieved is "circumspect." "Spaceflight can't be a faith-based initiative," he said, adding that there is no support in Congress to abandon Constellation, which has "a lot of equity in it."

SpaceX's Elon Musk, Sen. Richard Shelby spar over Obama space policy, Huntsville Times

"The CEO of a company seeking to carry American astronauts into space says U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, is fighting a new national space plan that would bring billions into North Alabama. "I just don't understand what his beef is," Elon Musk, CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Inc. (SpaceX) said in a telephone interview Friday night. "I don't really understand why Sen. Shelby is so opposed to commercial crew," Musk said, "given that Atlas and Delta are right there in Alabama, because no one's going to be a bigger winner in commercial crew than United Launch Alliance." Musk referred to the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture that builds Delta and Atlas rockets in Decatur for NASA, the military and commercial satellite customers. ULA and SpaceX are among the commercial companies wanting NASA contracts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station if President Obama's space program is approved by Congress. "For ULA it's a certainty," Musk said of winning contracts. "For SpaceX it's much more a question mark."

- Shelby Goes Personal on Bolden
- Shelby: Obama Plan Would Destroy U.S. Space Supremacy
- Shelby: Gov't Spending is Bad - Except for Spending on NASA, earlier post
- Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, earlier post
- Alabama Political Donations Go National, earlier post

Keith's note: The following was circulated by NASA Orion Management recently: "Today, a contracts letter was sent to Lockheed Martin relative to termination liability (TL). This letter, directed through NASA Headquarters, interprets the contract language to require the contractor to account for termination liability in its planning for each year of execution. Termination liability is the estimated value of contractor work required to close out the contract if terminated. This is not a notification of termination, but an interpretation of how the contractor should account for TL projections in the current year. The effect of the interpretation may have implications in how we execute the project. However, there are options available within NASA and Lockheed Martin that will be considered in the coming days to assure that we operate within the law while we attempt to execute the program. It is important that everyone keep in mind the President, the Congress, and the NASA Administrator have all publicly expressed their clear expectation that an Orion vehicle will continue to play a central role in the overall emerging space exploration policy and strategy. We are working closely with Lockheed Martin and NASA management to identify acceptable resolutions to this issue that have the least disruption to our integrated government/industry team and our collective ability to perform our mission."

NASA program: Ares I backers work to save rocket despite White House wishes, Orlando Sentinel

"The day after President Obama visited Kennedy Space Center last week to unveil his new vision for NASA, the manager of the moon program that Obama wants to kill told his team to draw up plans in case Obama fails to win congressional support. In an e-mail sent April 16, NASA's Constellation program manager, Jeff Hanley, instructed his managers to "prioritize" all the resources they have at their disposal under this year's budget to plan for test flights of prototypes of the troubled Ares I rocket that Obama aims to cancel. Hanley also orders them to look at ways to shrink the Constellation program in such a way that it can fit in a tighter rocket-development budget backed by the White House. The move comes as some members of Congress have pledged to stop Obama and save Ares. "This direction," Hanley wrote in the e-mail, "remains consistent with ... policy to continue program execution and planning in the event that the program or parts thereof will continue beyond [this financial] year."

Rogue NASA manager isn't ready to buy into Obama's vision for space, DIVCE

"President Obama has made it pretty clear that he wants NASA to go in a new direction, relying more heavily on the private sector while developing next-gen tech that would take us beyond the original target of the moon to Mars. Jeff Hanley, program manager of the targeted Constellation project, is still holding out hope that congress will be able to block the move, particularly in regard to the order to scrap the Ares rockets."

NASA: ATK has to shrink to remain competitive, Salt Lake Tribune

"Unfortunately the solid rocket industry has been overcapitalized for many, many years," Bolden told an appropriations subcommittee as part of his push for President Barack Obama's new direction for NASA. "We are carrying 70 percent of an industry for a capability that no one uses but NASA." And NASA isn't sure to what extent it wants to use it any more either. ATK's solid rocket motors have launched the shuttle into orbit for decades and the company has been constructing the Ares rocket as its replacement. But President Barack Obama wants to drop Ares and the overall Constellation program. In its place, Obama would pay for flights on as-yet-unbuilt private space vehicles to reach low-earth orbit, while NASA would focus on creating a completely new deep-space vehicle starting in 2015."

Will private spaceships have the right stuff? Commercial orbital taxis won't have to retrace NASA's footsteps, MSNBC

"First of all, the space taxis being created to serve the new policy are being designed for an entirely different mission. Unlike America's previous spaceships, these new taxis will be focused only on delivering passengers from Earth's surface to an existing space facility and back again. There's no need for long periods of independent orbital cruising. There's no need for carrying equipment to be later used for moon flights. The plan to reshape the Orion spaceship as a standby rescue vehicle for station crews has profound implications for the requirements of the commercial taxi and its cost. This strategy means the taxis won't have to last for six months "parked" in space, like Russia's Soyuz spaceships. The simplification of the taxi's mission will allow its hardware to be significantly less expensive to build and to validate."

Faux News Part Deux

Mikulski: U.S. cannot afford new NASA 'every four years', The Hill

"As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program, provoking congressional outrage, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said during an appropriations hearing more investigation and research was needed before she could decide whether that was the correct course of action."

Keith's note: Huh? "As the White House seeks to cancel most of NASA's manned-space flight program"? Where did this reporter get that scoop? George Bush cancelled the Shuttle back in 2004, not Barack Obama. The ISS is getting increased funding and billions are being poured in to support commercial crew access to space.

Senate leaders make move for more NASA money, Houston Chronicle

"Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. unveiled the Democrats' version, a resolution that would increase NASA's current $18.7 billion budget by 5.3 percent to provide uninterrupted testing of the Ares I-X rocket motor. The committee must debate and vote on the proposal before it goes to the Senate floor."

Nelson pushes Ares I tests, Florida Today

"Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Or- lando, requested the funding to continue testing of the solid-rocket motor based on the Ares I rocket, which is cancelled under the White House's latest budget proposal. Nelson said additional testing will be helpful in the development of a much more powerful rocket needed to launch astronauts on missions beyond Earth-orbit. Solid rocket motor development also remains important to the Defense Department's space and missile programs."

Nelson aims to save Ares I testing, Orlando Sentinel

"Instead of the Ares I, Obama wants to use commercial rockets to resupply the space station with crew and cargo. That way, NASA engineers could concentrate their efforts on designing futuristic new technologies that could one day take astronauts to nearby asteroids or Mars. But in an afternoon budget hearing, Nelson argued that NASA still needs the Ares I so that it could test technologies needed to eventually build bigger rockets that could launch the heavier spacecraft needed for missions beyond low-Earth orbit and the space station."

Obama's NASA Blueprint Is Challenged in Congress, NY Times

"But in response to a question from Mr. Shelby about the safety of the different rocket options, General Bolden said, "My gut tells me that Ares would be safer than anything else."

Udall, Bennet Ask President to Explain, Re-evaluate Cut of Constellation Program

"For Colorado - where the Orion capsule is being developed - this move would lead directly to the loss of over 1,000 jobs and indirectly to thousands more. More broadly, we are concerned that a reliance on unproven commercial providers for U.S. access to low Earth orbit (LEO) compromises America's leadership position in space. It is also unclear what, if anything, will become of the significant investment in Constellation to date."


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