SLS and Orion: June 2010 Archives

House spending panel punts on NASA policy, Orlando Sentinel

"A key congressional committee today sidestepped a potential vote on NASA's future, opting to take "no position" on White House plans to scrap NASA's moon rocket program and replace the space shuttle with commercial rockets. The House subcommittee with oversight of NASA's budget did, however, agree unanimously to withhold funding for the agency's human exploration program until Congress authorizes a plan for the agency -- a move that normally could cause headaches for the administration. But because Congress is unlikely to move this spending bill -- or any 2011 spending bill -- until after election season, the prohibition essentially is rendered moot. With that procedure aside, much of the rest of the two-hour hearing turned into a debate about NASA should do after the shuttle era."

Aderholt's bill tells NASA to stop Constellation cuts, Huntsville Times

"Aderholt's bill, titled the Protecting Human Spaceflight Act of 2010, would require NASA to stop downsizing or canceling Constellation projects. It was introduced in the House shortly after 5 p.m. CDT Monday. The legislation would also require the space agency to spend 90 percent of the remaining funds appropriated for Constellation this year."

HLV BAA Released

NASA MSFC Internal Email: Procurement Sensitivity for Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) NNM10ZDA001K

"The BAA NNM10ZDA001K will be released to industry in the near future for the Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technology Systems Analysis and Trade Study acquisition at NASA/MSFC. Effective immediately, all MSFC employees will cease communications with industry concerning this procurement. This 'blackout' period of communication with industry will continue until proposals have been received and evaluated, the contract is awarded, and the BAA Evaluation Team is released from its responsibilities."

NASA Issues Broad Agency Announcement For Heavy Lift Studies

"NASA has issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeking proposals and industry input on heavy-lift system concepts and propulsion technology."

Saving Constellation

Lawmakers will try to force NASA to fund Constellation program

"U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, is leading a group of lawmakers that will try to force NASA to continue funding the Constellation rocket program for the rest of the fiscal year. Aderholt will introduce a bill in the House later today titled the "Protecting Human Space Flight Act of 2010." It would require NASA to spend 90 percent of the remaining funds on the program in this last quarter of the fiscal year. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden would also be barred from terminating or shrinking any Constellation contract."

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt Tries To Stop Constellation Cuts, WHNT

"At least four other Congressman have co-sponsored the bill, including Rep. Lincoln Davis, Rep. Spencer Bachus, Rep. Parker Griffith, Rep. Jo Bonner and Rep. Mike Rogers. Aderholt says he sees support for Constellation on both sides of the aisle. "I would say 90% or more of Congress right now believes that Constellation is a good program, it's a program that Congress should be investing in, or we don't see a sign of letting up," said Aderholt."

Houston region continues national fight to urge leaders to save NASA's Human Space Flight Capabilities

"The Greater Houston Partnership and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership today urged the Obama administration to reconsider the retirement of the space shuttle and cancel its plan in the FY2011 NASA budget to eliminate the Constellation program - in favor of "hoped for" commercially developed capabilities that are still up to seven years away, assuming there are no further setbacks. Continuing the prevision plan to retire the Space Shuttle while also terminating the Constellation program in the face of such a long gap before the commercial industry can carry U.S. astronauts safely into low earth orbit would deal a severe blow to Houston and the nation, and compromise America's leadership in space."

At Companies Tied to NASA, Casualties of a Changing Mission, NY Times

"The administration wants to turn to commercial companies for taking future astronauts to orbit while taking a hiatus from any ambitious missions to send astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. Yet Congress has not agreed to the scuttling of Constellation and added a clause in this year's federal budget that prohibited NASA from canceling the program or starting a new one without Congressional assent. The skirmishing continued in earnest this week. Staff members on the House Committee on Science and Technology are reviewing documents that NASA sent over Friday evening to comply with the committee's demand for information used in formulating the president's proposal. In addition, on Tuesday, 62 House members signed a letter sent to President Obama "to express concern" over the direction of NASA."

ATK gets reprieve in NASA funding, AP

"ATK Space Systems says it has been cleared for a scheduled ground test of a new rocket motor in September. ATK says it received notice from NASA that the company will receive $160 million to prepare for the rocket test despite doubts about the future of the space program. The situation could change after October, when a new federal budget year starts."

ATK: NASA releases funds: Ares rocket work may continue through at least September, McClatchy-Tribune

"NASA in the last month threatened to withhold funding and enforce a contract clause that could force ATK to put up $500 million in termination costs for Ares, which is part of the Constellation space project. ATK officials would not confirm it, but NASA projected the termination clause would cost more than 2,000 jobs at the Top of Utah company."

Does moon plan have a pulse?, Houston Chronicle

"And the full 60-member House Appropriations Committee will be deciding whether to adopt Senate-passed restrictions designed to block an administration effort to have Constellation contractors set aside funds to pay potential contract termination costs - a move that critics contend bleeds the program before Congress has taken action. The language is part of the must-pass wartime defense supplemental bill. The panels' deliberations follow a letter to Obama by 62 House Democrats and Republicans from 18 states on Wednesday that urged the president to work with lawmakers on a compromise on the Constellation program."

Sessions says meeting with NASA's Bolden "troubling", Huntsville times

"Senators whose states stand to lose private sector jobs related to space flight want a legal opinion on whether NASA's order to start winding down certain programs this year is al lowed, Sen. Jeff Sessions said Tuesday. "We want an independent legal opinion, which could make a difference in where we are," Ses sions said after a meeting with other senators about NASA. "We think this is clearly a violation of the congressional intent."

Congress touts Constellation, wants heavy-lift rocket now, Orlando Sentinel

"The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of 62 U.S. House members from 18 states, seeks changes in a new White House plan that sets a 2015 deadline for NASA to decide on a so-called "heavy lift" rocket that could launch new spacecraft on missions to asteroids, which Obama wants to do by 2025."

Letter From Members of Congress to the President Regarding NASA Heavy Launch Vehicle Funding in FY 2011

"We are writing to express concern for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 President's Budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Human space exploration is ingrained in the American psyche. It is part of who we are as explorers, entrepreneurs, scientists and Americans. The proposed Exploration Systems Mission Directorate reduction jeopardizes our country's leadership in space and could put our national security at risk. Additionally, we do not see the benefit of a 5-year delay to a decision on exploration system architecture."

Despite Orders, NASA Keeps Funding Projects, WS Journal

"Andrew Hunter, a NASA budget official, said Wednesday the action was intended to prevent Alliant from being forced to abruptly stop all Ares work and lay off employees. Lockheed Martin Corp. also got the green light to receive $80 million for other work related to a crew capsule.Overall, Mr. Hunter said NASA was considering releasing another $630 million in funding for other work related to existing manned-exploration programs. "We are trying to work a fine balance between" competing priorities, Mr. Hunter said in an interview Wednesday. The latest funding decision and Mr. Bolden's earlier orders "aren't inconsistent," Mr. Hunter said. But some congressional staffers and industry officials familiar with the details disagree. They contend the release of funds skirts, and may directly contradict, Mr. Bolden's recent written directives."

Keith's note: Included in this video is an interview with Mike Griffin wherein he puts his spin on NASA budget issues as leader of the "Constellation Nation".

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."

Letter From Sen. Nelson to Sen. Mikulski Regarding FY 2011 NASA Budget

"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."

Bill Would Direct NASA to Begin Work on Heavy-lift Rocket Next Year, Space News

"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."

NASA Appoints Constellation Program Managers

"Lawrence D. Thomas has been appointed manager of NASA's Constellation Program, which manages the effort to take humans beyond low-Earth orbit and develop the next generation launch vehicle and spacecraft. Charles M. Stegemoeller has been appointed as deputy program manager. He and Thomas will be based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston."

Keith's note: With the exception of national publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. and space-related media, why does it seem that the only local/state level newspapers and TV stations that are paying attention to the current space policy food fight are in Texas, Alabama, Florida, Utah, and Colorado? Where is the outrage in the rest of the country? Why isn't there more widespread condemnation? Is this just about losing jobs? Or do most Americans just not care about space?

If the rhetoric that Obama space policy opponents fling about is correct in its prediction of dire consequences for America, then where's the national outrage?

Orion Budget is Cut 20 Per Cent with 600 Jobs Eliminated and Progress Slowed, Ken Kremer

"The impact of termination liability on the contract has necessitated a 20 percent reduction across the program within Lockheed Martin as well as our subcontractors and suppliers", says Cleon Lacefield, Lockheed Martin vice president and Orion program manager. Lacefield told me that "Orion procurements are being reduced to allow work to continue within the budget limitations and about 600 positions among the Lockheed Martin and subcontractor workforce are being moved off of the program to adjust staffing needs."

Constellation funding up to NASA backers to win over Congress, Bud Cramer, huntsville Times

"The president's proposal includes a very different vision for NASA's future and begs the question: Will we continue to have a government-led space program? Will Marshall's workforce have the rug pulled out from under them?"

New NASA cutback a bad idea, editorial, Austin Daily Herald

"There's a two-fold problem with NASA's decision, which is apparently based on the president's distaste for the moon program. First, an enormous amount has already been spent; $10 billion over the past five years. Most, if not all, of that will be wasted with the program's cancellation. Perhaps more importantly, the cancellation will be yet another giant step backward for America's space program, one of the few efforts our nation is making to prepare for the future."

Congressmen still want probe of NASA Constellation decisions, Huntsville Times

"The employees and their families who are experiencing the news of job loss today have my thoughts with them," Griffith said. "It is unacceptable that our region is suffering due to this administration's blatant arrogance and its ignorance of the importance of manned space flight."

NASA move could kill up to 2,000 Utah jobs, Salt Lake Tribune

"Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, a member of the appropriations committee, said he believes they have a 50-50 shot of fighting off the president's plan to scrap Ares in favor of commercially developed vehicles that the government would lease rides on. "I haven't run across anyone outside of the administration who thinks this is a good idea," he said."

Here Come The Layoffs

Keith's note: According to one MSFC reader: "It's basically "say goodbye to Ares Day" here. Managers and branch chiefs are in meetings all morning. There is an all-hands meeting at 2:00 pm. "Tough times ahead" is acknowledged by many."

Rep. Bishop responds to NASA's efforts to end the Constellation, Cache Valley Daily

"This recent directive handed down by NASA officials shows blatant disregard for the laws set forth by Congress to prevent this very action," says Rep. Bishop. "The administration is disregarding these policies with reckless abandon and doing so in a way that I find to be in complete violation of the legal parameters."

Hutchison says NASA is skirting law by shutting down Constellation, The Hill

"For months, NASA's leadership has claimed they are not working to subvert Constellation despite information to the contrary," Hutchison said in a statement."

NASA orders immediate cuts; job losses expected, KENS5

"At the time, economists predicted as many as 7,000 jobs could be lost in Houston as the space shuttle program was phased out and Constellation winded down. Another 4,000 indirect jobs at local businesses were predicted to be on the line."

Constellation contractor Boeing makes Huntsville job cuts, WAFF

"The cancellation of the NASA Constellation program is having an impact on contractors in Huntsville. Boeing spokesperson Ed Memi said they could possibly lay of 60 percent off the 300 people who work on the Constellation and Ares project."

Boeing could lay off 180 after Constellation funding cuts, Huntsville Times

"The Boeing Co., which employs 300 people on Constellation here, said Thursday it will hand termination notices to an unspecified number July 2. Their jobs will end Sept. 3 unless Boeing can find slots in other programs, spokesman Ed Memi said."

Colorado's delegation seeks to save Lockheed jobs, Denver Post

"Lockheed Martin has said it may have to cut some of the 600 to 650 employees who work on Orion in Colorado because NASA expects it and other contractors to shoulder the cost of terminating the Constellation spaceflight project, of which Orion is a part. The company said May 27 it is cutting project costs by 20 percent. About 1,000 people in the state and 4,000 nationwide work on Orion for various contractors."

2,000 ATK jobs at stake; Bishop says directive will deal 'irreversible blow' to Utah industry, Standard-Examiner

"A NASA plan to force Alliant Techsystems to set aside $500 million to deal with potential termination costs of the Constellation rocket program could end up decimating the ATK space systems work force in the Top of Utah, according to space agency documents. A NASA letter, dated June 9, and its attachments estimate the "worst-case scenario" for ATK would be more than 2,000 layoffs beyond those the company has already implemented."

Blog says NASA officials blame Griffin for Constellation budget crisis; Griffin responds, Huntsville Times

"Regarding your question, 'What was your attitude/instruction regarding this set-aside law when you were administrator?,' I had no discussions in connection with and issued no instructions on this matter. In fact, I had no concern whatsoever about it. The NASA Administrator rarely (if ever) is involved in the technical details of procurement and contracting, and certainly I was not. I had, and still have, great regard for and confidence in NASA legal and procurement staff, and am confident that the decisions they made in regard to the apportionment of termination liability will withstand examination."

Antideficieny Act Violations at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA OIG, 10 April 2006

"The ADA violations occured because of the lack of internal controls within the OCFO and OCFO personnel's misunderstanding of OMB apportionment requirements."

"Management's response: The Administrator concurred, stating that the OCFO will demonstrate that appropriations available to be spent in FY 2006 can be traced from appropriations, to apportionments, to allotments, to commitments, and to obligations."

Keith's note: Hmm, it would seem that Mike knew that NASA had ADA compliance problems and that he did have some "concerns" despite his statement to the contrary.

NASA JSC Internal Email: Constellation Program FY2010 Replanning Update

"This morning, Ellen Ochoa met with our civil service supervisors from across the Center as well as members of the Joint Leadership Team to discuss replanning of Constellation operations for the remainder of this fiscal year. Ellen was joined by Dale Thomas, Acting Constellation Program Manager, and Charlie Stegemoeller, Constellation Program Planning and Control Manager. They noted that the Constellation Program has been given the authority to proceed immediately to assign preliminary adjustments and funding reductions. This replan will have an impact on contracts, workforce, and planned content of the Constellation Program. We don't know the specific impacts at the Center levels or at JSC yet. The Program is working through the projects and implementing organizations to determine plans and numbers of team members that will be affected."

Hutchison: NASA Leadership Skirting the Law to Shut Down Space Programs

"Senator Hutchison today received a letter from NASA Administrator Bolden outlining the decision and NASA's justification. She noted that it further underscores the extent to which NASA has taken aggressive steps to move in a different direction without providing ample explanation or justification to Congress. The letter from Administrator Bolden contains language discussing the new "principles" to guide spending that are virtually identical to direction reportedly given by NASA headquarters in an email to the now reassigned Constellation program manager more than three weeks ago. The email with these operational instructions has been provided to the NASA Inspector General as part of the investigation Hutchison requested with Chairman Rockefeller into the reassignment of the Constellation program manager."

NASA Moves To Kill Moon Program Despite Congressional Prohibition, Florida Today

"The move to essentially kill Constellation comes despite joint legislation passed by the House and Senate Appropriations committees that prohibits NASA from terminating any Constellation work without congressional approval. It also comes despite rulings by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals that places all termination liability on the government rather than contractors. One case in point: A lawsuit brought by DuPont in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, in April 2004."

Congress and contractors reject NASA move on Constellation moon plan , Orlando Sentinel

"ATK believes this was contrived on a recent NASA premise that ATK has been obligated to set aside termination liability estimates on this contract when in fact NASA's contracting officer provided ATK the exact opposite instruction on numerous occasions over the last several years, and directed that such costs not be accounted in any contract processes or procedures."

Contractors Told to Prepare for Moon Program's End, NY Times

"If this is to be the new agency policy and practice, then NASA should shift responsibility for termination liability on all of its current contracts, not simply Constellation," Dr. Pace said. "As it stands, this appears to be purposefully punitive against a specific set of NASA contractors."

Letter From Charles Bolden to Sen. Shelby Regarding Constellation

"Current estimates for potential termination liability under Constellation contracts total $994 million. Once these termination liability estimates are accounted for, the overall Constellation program is confronting a total estimated shortfall of $991 million for continued program effort for the balance of the year, compared with the revised FY 2010 plan. Given this estimated shortfall, the Constellation program cannot continue all of its planned FY 2010 program activities within the resources available. Under the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), NASA has no choice but to correct this situation. Consequently, the Constellation program has formulated an updated funding plan for the balance of FY 2010, consistent with the following principles:"

Bolden Talks About The Constellation Team, earlier post

"If you go to 55:18 in this video, I ask Charlie Bolden how he is going to get people to make the transition from flying government-operated spacecraft to commercially- operated spacecraft - and the emotion that goes with making the transition from one way of thinking to another. Bolden's reply gets deep into the emotions and mindsets that underly the changes that the Constellation workforce is now going through - and how he is going to work through that process with them."

Keith's note: Yes, it really sucks that it has come to this. I have seen this movie before: I am a survivor of Space Station Freedom "reorganization". Friends who worked very hard were simply fired for no fault of their own. I turned down several positions and quit NASA civil service in disgust (ever wonder what prompted me to start NASA (RIF) Watch?). And now we are seeing this happen again like a bad sequel. Every CxP job lost belongs to a real human being with a family and bills to pay - and dreams that will now be dashed.

As such, I honestly cannot fault anyone in or around CxP for wanting to fight back. My teammates at SS Freedom did not like what was happening at all. Yet we worked on our version of the "Program of Record" until we were told to stop working - and move on to other things - or be fired. To this day I am proud of the folks I worked with and how they conducted themselves. Pieces of what we worked on orbit overhead right now. We did not mount insurgent movements as much as we might have wanted to. There comes a time when badly-managed and chronically under-funded programs run out of resources. That is what has happened to Constellation. Of course, in the end, the little guy always gets the shaft.

NASA, White House, Congress, and the contractors should never have let things come to this point. They should have been honest with the numbers and what they committed to do. The money to keep everything going is not there - it never was and it never will be. The powers that be did not exercise responsibility and now thousands of hard working people get the shaft as a result of bad management - bad management that runs all the way up to NASA HQ and the previous Administrator and his staff, some of whom are still inexplicably in their jobs at NASA.

What newly-minted graduate in their right mind is going to want to pursue a career at NASA when the agency runs itself like this?

NASA order may force shutdown of Constellation moon-rocket program, Orlando Sentinel

"In a surprise move, NASA has told the major contractors working on its troubled Constellation moon rocket program that they are in violation of federal spending rules -- and must immediately cut back work by nearly $1 billion to get into compliance. As many as 5,000 jobs from Utah to Florida are expected to be lost over the next month. The effect of the directive, which went out to contractors earlier this week and which Congress was told about on Wednesday, may accomplish something that President Barack Obama has sought since February: killing Constellation's system of rockets, capsules and lunar landers that has already cost at least $9 billion to date. .. At issue is the federal Anti-Deficiency Act that requires all federal contractors to set aside a portion of their payments to cover costs in case the project is ever cancelled."

Bolden: Funding Shortfall Requires Slowdown on Constellation, Space News

"In a June 9 letter to key U.S. lawmakers, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the work slowdown could result in "contractor workforce reductions estimated at 30-60 percent of the current population, or 2,500-5,000, for the balance of the year."

SpaceX Achieves Orbital Bullseye With Inaugural Flight of Falcon 9 Rocket, SpaceX

"The NASA COTS program has demonstrated the power of what can be accomplished when you combine private sector responsiveness and ingenuity with the guidance, support and insight of the US government. For less than the cost of the Ares I mobile service tower, SpaceX has developed all the flight hardware for the Falcon 9 orbital rocket, Dragon spacecraft, as well as three launch sites. SpaceX has been profitable for three consecutive years (2007 through 2009) and expects to remain modestly profitable for the foreseeable future. The company has over 1000 employees in California, Texas and Florida, and has been approximately doubling in size every two years. A majority of the future growth is expected to occur in Texas and Florida."

Building Orion

NASA's First Lunar Orion Test Capsule Built, Ken Kremer

"America's first Lunar Test capsule for people since Project Apollo has just been welded into shape. This work finishes the structural framework of the pioneer Orion crew cabin - known as the Ground Test Article - or GTA, by a Lockheed Martin contractor team toiling away at the historic NASA-owned Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, damaged during Hurricane Katrina."



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This page is an archive of entries in the SLS and Orion category from June 2010.

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