Congress: February 2010 Archives

NASA Plan Falls Flat In Congress, Aviation Week

"Objections to it fall into two broad categories -- the lack of a clear objective in space for the new program, and the "faith-based" belief, in the words of one House member, that a commercial route to orbit for U.S. astronauts is better than the government-managed Ares I and Orion vehicles. Members also are irritated over delays in getting specifics of the broad-brush plan released Feb. 1, and the apparent lack of consultation outside a small administration circle in the decision to make such a "radical" change away from a space policy Congress has endorsed."

NASA budget plan may not pass committee as is, Florida Today

"Congressional hostility toward the administration's plans for NASA was so great that three lawmakers who don't serve on the science committee attended Thursday's hearing just to give Bolden a piece of their mind."

Keith's note: There is apparently some draft legislation floating around the Senate that addresses the development of Heavy Launch Vehicles (HLV) using Orion and Shuttle hardware at NASA. This thread at discusses a posting of some draft language on FlightGlobal. Take particular note of postings by "51D Mascot" i.e. Jeff Bingham, staffer on the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, who notes that the most recent draft of this legislation is dated 22 Feb 2010.

NASA Job Cuts On The Way

Obama's NASA budget could cost Houston 7,000 jobs, KHOU

"Houston stands to lose big. Economists estimate as many as 7,000 jobs could be lost as the space shuttle program is phased out this year and the Constellation program winds down."

NASA chief vows help for Florida employees, Houston Chronicle

"Florida, facing the loss of some 14,000 jobs from retirement of the shuttle and President Barack Obama's proposed cancellation of the Constellation program, is widely expected to be an electoral battleground in the 2012 presidential campaign."

David Vitter criticizes NASA budget as lacking in ambition,

"Vitter, who also is concerned about the impact on jobs at the Michoud facility in eastern New Orleans, which produces the space shuttle's external fuel tanks, faulted the new budget for "not only ending the shuttle but completely canceling its replacement, the Constellation, with little more than a hope and prayer that commercial providers will eventually pick up the slack."

23,000 now expected to lose jobs after shuttle retirement, Florida Today

"The local economic forecast tied to President Barack Obama's proposed NASA budget keeps growing bleaker. Revised projections now show that about 23,000 workers at and around Kennedy Space Center will lose their jobs because of the shuttles' retirement and the new proposal to cancel the development of new rockets and spacecraft."

Let's All Dump on Charlie

NASA chief takes more flak from Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"During the Thursday hearing, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando hammered Bolden on where he thinks NASA should send its astronauts next. Bolden said NASA's goal was to send astronauts to Mars but he was vague on when that might happen and where astronauts might go beforehand -- as the new NASA vision aims to develop futuristic new spacecraft, rocket engines and fuel depots before settling on a destination. That response didn't sit well with the freshman Democrat, who often interrupted Bolden before concluding that NASA was "taking a shot in the dark" by relying on commercial rocket companies. "What you are doing is taking NASA's manned-space program and making it a faith-based initiative," Grayson said."

Keith's note: Rep. Grayson was being purposefully obnoxious, rude, and snarky today. What purpose that served him escapes me since Bolden's calm professional demeanor certainly made him look like the adult in this little exchange while Grayson came across as an arrogant newbie.

Under Fire, Administrator Defends NASA's New Direction, NY Times

"Notably, those speaking out against the changes are not just members of Congress representing Alabama, Florida and Texas -- the homes of the NASA centers that would be most directly affected by the cancellation of the rockets and spacecraft that make up the current program, known as Constellation."

- Congress grills Bolden about Constellation cancellation, Florida Today
- NASA's New Space Plan a 'Radical Change,' Lawmakers Say,

Rude or not? Watch Grayson grill NASA chief, (with Video) Orlando Sentinel

"At a U.S. House hearing Thursday, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando grilled NASA chief Charles Bolden on the agency's new plan to send astronauts into orbit. The exchange raised eyebrows throughout the House Science and Technology committee, as the freshman Democrat often interrupted Bolden - and prompted some condemnation in space circles."

House Appropriators Grill Obama's Science Adviser on NASA Plan, SpaceNews

"Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) accused Holdren of not consulting senior NASA personnel on the decision to terminate the Constellation program. "Your associate administrators and field center heads were not even told of the final details of the plan to cancel Constellation until just a couple of days before its release," he said. Holdren denied the accusation. "They were consulted early in the process and during the process about the options, the characteristics of different possibilities," Holdren said. Tensions mounted near the end of the hearing when Wolf accused three White House staff members seated behind Holdren of wearing smug facial expressions during Culberson's final round of questioning. "I don't care who you work for," he said. "I think you really bring a degree of arrogance here that is just almost offensive."

Aderholt Challenges The President's Science Advisor On Human Space Flight

"This plan abandons any hope of astronauts actually going anywhere, beyond the station, for at least 20 years. I am aware of the OMB statement of NASA's mission of getting ready to go to Mars. But these science projects should be worked on at the same times as launch systems like Constellation which will actually get us somewhere."

Keith's note: There was one bizarre series of events today in the Senate hearing on NASA's budget that I found to be very odd - and a little troubling. I am referring to the series of questions that Sen. Vitter (R-LA) asked of Charlie Bolden with regard to Deputy NASA Administrator Lori Garver. The questions focused on who made the decision to cancel Constellation and whether Lori Garver was at the heart of this. He also seemed to suggest that Lori was pushing to oust Bolden and usurp his job - something he said that he "would not support".

Within a few moments it was clear that Vitter had been programmed by his staff with some sort of magic fairy dust and that he was going to pursue a line of questioning that focused on Garver and repeated use of the word "radical" and not on anything of substance related to the budget. Clearly, Vitter's staff were using him as a proxy in a search for a cabal, smoking gun, or a scheming mastermind behind the Obama space policy. Typical Washington blood sport.

This is not new: there is a small subculture of space policy wannabes out there who seem to be convinced that Lori Garver has sold her soul in the pursuit of some sort of plan to destroy human space flight and replace it with ... well, they do not agree on that part. The silly thing about all of this is the illogic of someone like Lori ever being inclined to want to "kill" human spaceflight. Quite the contrary.

Let me say this. I have known Lori for more than 20 years. If you have read NASA Watch you will know that in the past I have not hesitated to criticize her when I saw fit. But let me tell you, for anyone with a shred of knowledge about Lori and her background to suggest that she is against human space travel - of any kind is ludicrous. Not only did she head the National Space Society, an organization devoted to human space flight, but she spent 6 months of her life training to get a seat on a Soyuz flight as "AstroMom" and even had surgery to meet the medical qualifications. It just doesn't compute.

If you want to throw rocks and dabble in second rate Da Vinci code cabal mongering, then go look into the inner workings of OSTP and OMB. That is where these policies were developed and delivered to NASA - not the other way around.

As such, I have to wonder what those staffers sitting silently behind Vitter were thinking when they poured this nonsense into his head. Clearly they know how things work here in Washington. But instead of trying to have a serious discussion about the programmatic merits or detriments of the policy, Vitter went off on a wild goose chase - and hit a brick wall.

Funny thing: Sen. Vitter never uttered the word "Michoud" as far as I could tell.

Senator's attack on NASA deputy chief Lori Garver backfires , Orlando Sentinel

"Several sources on the Hill, in industry and inside the Obama administration blame rocket maker ATK, the developer of the Ares I rocket first stage, for putting Vitter up to the attack. Sources say that complaints have been sent to ATK and so far there has been no response. In the meantime, members of the Senate and the House said they were going to refrain from any further personal attacks as they move against the White House's proposed 2011 budget for the space agency."

Keith's update: "NASA Watch has learned that the impetus for Senator Vitter's remarks about the alleged role of Lori Garver in developing the new NASA plans did not come from his committee staff support, as had been suggested in the author's earlier post." Ok, so that is what a Capitol Hill source asked me to post. I am not sure I totally believe it though. Something smells a little funny about all of this. What I won't post (or hint at) is their identity. Nor will I post the arrogant, snarky, insult-ladden emails that accompanied this. I just love it when these Hill folks send these emails in an official capacity but then demand to control what subset of the information I can or cannot use - all under utter anonymity. But let me tell you - when a Senator gets on the train to Crazy Town like Sen. Vitter did, the people responsible for advising, preparing, and guiding that Senator have failed in their job. Miserably so.

"NASA's Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request and Issues"

- Hearing Charter
- Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
- Witness: Charles Bolden
- Webcast House - NASA TV
- Follow hearing on Twitter

Senators to NASA chief: Go somewhere specific, AP

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said after the hearing that critics were confusing the lack of a specific destination or timetable with the lack of a goal. NASA has a goal, a big one, Bolden said. It's going to Mars. But Bolden added that getting astronauts to Mars is more than a decade away and NASA needs to upgrade its technology or else it never will get there."

- Senators Say Plan Puts NASA On Mission To Nowhere, NPR
- Senators grill NASA chief on President Obama's space plan, USA Today
- Senators Decry NASA's Change of Plans, SpaceNews
- NASA Chief to Senators: We're Going to Mars,
- Bolden: Mars is the 'ultimate' goal, Orlando Sentinel
- NASA chief says Mars is goal, lawmakers express doubt about budget, The Hill
- Senators Vow to Fight NASA Outsource Plan, WS Journal
- Challenger Center Statement in Advance of Today's Senate Hearing on NASA Budget

Keith's note: The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Science and Space Subcommittee will hold a hearing onChallenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal today starting at 2:30 pm EST. NASA will be broadcasting and webcasting this hearing on NASA TV - Watch. You can follow things on Twitter here.

Witness Panel 1: Charles Bolden , NASA

Witness Panel 2: Robert "Hoot" Gibson, Astronaut (Ret.); Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer; Miles O'Brien, Journalist and Host "This Week in Space"; and A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Ret.)

NASA will be broadcasting and webcasting on NASA TV - Watch

Bolden: NASA legit as it readies to end moon program, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden bluntly told Congress in a letter sent Friday that the agency has kept within the law as it prepares to dismantle the Constellation moon rocket program -- despite accusations to the contrary from nearly 30 U.S. House members. The three-page letter was in response to warning sent by the lawmakers on Feb. 12 that reminded the new NASA chief that he could not shut down Constellation this year without prior approval from Congress. They said NASA has begun pulling the plug in violation of a law passed last year."

- NASA Letter To Offerors Regarding Cancellation of Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) Request for Proposal (RFP), earlier post
- Letter From House of Representatives to NASA Administrator Bolden regarding Constellation contract Cancellation, earlier post

Mikulski slips Nelson a note on NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Earlier this week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland sent a two-page letter to Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida that attempts to outline her vision for NASA and notes that it is "more important than ever" that the two lawmakers "work on consultation" to consider the White House plan. The potential alliance is crucial as Mikulski heads the Senate spending subcommittee with oversight of NASA's budget and Nelson oversees the subcommittee that helps define NASA policy. "I thought it might also be helpful to share with you the principles that I will rely on when drafting the fiscal year 2011 funding bill for NASA," she writes."

Bill Nelson: Manned space program isn't dead yet

"The White House made two errors when announcing its plans for NASA, Sen. Bill Nelson said Tuesday. "I think they made two tactical mistakes that gave everybody the wrong impression," the Florida Democrat said. "The first one is that the president didn't set what the goal is, and everybody knows the goal and that's to go to Mars. "The second mistake was that they said they are canceling the Constellation program."

Don't be blinded by the moon, Opinion, Tampa Bay Online

"Nelson is right that space research is not a waste. It has produced useful spinoffs, including communication and weather satellites, GPS and medical advances, including Lasik surgery. But those successes don't make Obama wrong to try to unleash the inventiveness of U.S. profit-motivated entrepreneurs to build faster and cheaper ships. Jobs will be created, but they will be different jobs, possibly in different places."

Olson vows to oppose Obama's NASA budget, Houston Chronicle

"During and after the meeting, the U.S. representative whose district includes Johnson Space Center, Republican Pete Olson, vowed to fight the president's plan to dramatically alter NASA human spaceflight plans. "Congress is going to challenge this plan," Olson said."

Senator Richard Shelby on Iran and NASA

"And speaking of our best interest, Senator Shelby plans to fight for the budget of NASA. With budget cuts virtually impacting all areas of our economy, NASA has felt the pinch as well. It's an element of our community that Senator Shelby stands behind. "Mississippi and Alabama are both very involved in NASA and the future of NASA. And we're going to fight that. Senator Cochran is in position in the Appropriations Committee and so am I to fight that. We haven't given up on that yet."

Mikulski slips Nelson a note on NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"Earlier this week, Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland sent a two-page letter to Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida that attempts to outline her vision for NASA and notes that it is "more important than ever" that the two lawmakers "work on consultation" to consider the White House plan."

Shuttle's extension in works, Florida Today

"U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas said a bipartisan plan is in the works in Congress that would call for extending the shuttle program another five years. The plan would require adding another $200 million to the NASA budget for 2010 and $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year starting in the 2011-12 budget year. The goal would be one to two shuttle flights a year through 2015, if it could be done safely."

Shelby: Government spending 'out of control', Birmingham Business Journal

"Alabama's senior senator said the Obama administration is on pace to turn a $10 trillion deficit into $20 trillion during a speech before the Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce. Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, reminded the audience he led the charge against federal bank and automaker bailouts. Shelby warned federal entitlements and deficit spending will ultimately hurt the nation's economy. During the question and answer portion of the speech, the four-term senator said he will fight to keep funding for NASA's Constellation program that the Obama administration has cut in its proposed 2011 budget. Huntsville is home to the project that Shelby helped save $600 million for last year."

Shelby Was For The Private Sector Before He Was Against It, Previous Post

Previous Shelbyisms

Cancellation at NASA puts Olson to the test

"Former Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford, who had been in line to lead the House panel overseeing NASA before losing his seat to Olson, blames Texas' current predicament squarely on the sweeping congressional redistricting fashioned by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. "Texas has suffered greatly," said Lampson, who lost races in two congressional districts as a result. "Without that redistricting, I would have been chairman of the space subcommittee representing JSC and in direct contact with the president and House leadership. That would have made a difference."

Astronauts on Decatur rockets, editorial, Decatur Daily

"While NASA workers are legitimately concerned, there are signs that Decatur could enjoy some benefits in the midst of the hardship of a scaled-down Marshall. The most obvious is the potential growth of United Launch Alliance in Decatur. After massive effort, ULA's Decatur plant will soon be the sole assembly plant for three of the most reliable rockets in the United States: the Delta II, the Delta IV and, most recently, the Atlas V."

NASA's new direction could lift local space assets, Virginia Pilot

"President Obama's proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2011 delivered both good and bad news for space- and NASA-related organizations in Hampton Roads such as NASA Langley, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport."

Obama's budget boosts NASA Ames, San Jose Mecury News

"Key areas of expertise at NASA Ames that are a priority in the new NASA budget include international partnerships, information technology, space science, earth science, small satellites and exploration technologies, Braxton said. NASA Ames employs 1,250 civil servants and 1,250 contractors, but Braxton believes that number may soon increase, and the agency's new direction could be a boon to local employment, not just for NASA but for companies partnering with NASA in Silicon Valley."

Space Blitz is Out of Synch

2010 Legislative Blitz February 21-23 in Washington DC, Space Exploration Alliance

"... the Commission found that NASA simply can not accomplish the goals with which it has been tasked unless it receives an additional $3 billion in annual funding. In the current economic climate, however, it is uncertain which path our nation's leaders will now take in response to the Augustine Commission's findings. An increase in funding is not necessarily the path that will be chosen."

Keith's note: Gee folks, your "blitz" is a little more than a week away. It might be a good idea to update your website to reflect the actual situation NASA is in.

Obama overhauls NASA's agenda in budget request, Washington Post

"The decision to kill Constellation is akin to President Richard M. Nixon's decision to end the Apollo program in the early 1970s and build the space shuttle."

Space group attacks Obama's plans for NASA; calls for lunar return, Orlando Sentinel

"The National Space Society, which was once headed by NASA's current deputy administrator Lori Garver and chief of Staff George Whitesides, said in a press release today that the White House plans to increase spending on science, technology and commercial space companies to ferry astronauts for the international space station was commendable. "However, we believe the President's 2011 budget request would leave the job only partly done," the release said. "NSS calls for the President and Congress to restore funding for human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit."

Impact of a scale-back goes far beyond Houston, Sen. Corwyn, Houston Chronicle

"But NASA cannot pass the baton of human spaceflight to a runner that is still trying on its shoes. The private sector requires years of further development before it can send a human being to the moon or compete with America's international rivals. NASA was assigned the Constellation mission for the same reason it took on Apollo: It remains the only entity in the country capable of getting it done."

NASA chief: Mars is our mission, Houston Chronicle

"The president's plan is not what our country needs at this time," said Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. "We have been the world's leader for 50 years, and I can't accept that we're going to fall behind. We are going to fight, fight, fight to ensure that the next person who steps on the moon is an American." Olson said the right thing to do is add $3 billion to NASA's budget annually for the next five years to ensure Constellation is fully funded."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden looks to work out NASA future, Huntsville times

"I've got tiger teams out there looking to put meat on the bones" to define future NASA work, Bolden told a group of reporters and editors during a meeting at The Times today. "This is not a decision that will be resolved in a day."

Davis defends NASA, Huntsville Times

"Davis, a candidate for governor, joined Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin in the meeting with 20 aerospace executives from companies such as Boeing and Dynetics to discuss strategies to keep the Ares rocket and return trips to the moon in the federal budget."

Alabama lawmakers vow to save Constellation moon mission, Huntsville Times

"Already, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., plans to use a Feb. 24 hearing to explore the feasibility of continuing with Ares I testing in the hope of developing a "light" version of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle "so America isn't relying only (on) commercial vendors," a spokesman said via e-mail."

Hatch Blasts Obama, The Main Street Journal

"Hatch has played a vital role in helping Utah's NASA contractors diversify their manufacturing base and products. Over the past three years, for example, he helped secure nearly $30 million for ATK/Hill Air Force Base's Advanced Automated Composite Technologies and Manufacturing Center."

Giffords should resign as Chair of Space Subcommittee, Jesse Kelley For Congress

"Representative Gabrielle Giffords should immediately resign as Chair of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. She has a clear conflict of interest from the tens of thousands of dollars her campaign has received from the aerospace industry. She took in over $10,000 in one day alone from people at large corporations such as ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and United Space Alliance. These are companies who stand to make or lose millions of dollars based on decisions made by her subcommittee."

Jobs at stake in Louisiana as NASA shifts gears, Business Week

"In a statement, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said he was concerned about the shift in the space program's direction, saying it would be devastating for Michoud. He said he favored a plan building on existing technologies based on the shuttle. "But we should do it now, not just talk about it vaguely for the future and lose all of our human capital and expertise and Michoud and other centers," said Vitter, a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space."

Battle over NASA's future heads to Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"President Barack Obama's proposal to kill NASA's moon program and replace it with commercial rockets has drawn the ire of both Democrats and Republicans, who protest the move is either a "death march" for human spaceflight or a "radical departure" that will cost thousands of jobs."

Obama's NASA facelift faces tough fight in Congress, Spaceflightnow

"[Rep. Bill] Posey said he fears the plan represents a "slow death" of the space program."

Chairman Gordon Comments on President's Budget Request

"Turning to NASA, the space agency's budget request represents a radical departure from the bipartisan consensus achieved by Congress in successive authorizations over the past five years. This requires deliberate scrutiny. We will need to hear the Administration's rationale for such a change and assess its impact on U.S. leadership in space before Congress renders its judgment on the proposals."

Congresswoman Kosmas' Statement on Release of NASA Budget

"The cancellation of Orion is especially troubling and goes against the recommendations of the Augustine Commission. The State of Florida has made significant investments to prepare KSC facilities for Orion, and the Space Coast anticipated, invested in, and planned for the commitment to be fulfilled in order to help preserve jobs."

The Obama Space Vision for NASA: Massive Paradigm Shifts Ahead

"In announcing its $19.0 billion FY 2011 NASA budget today, the Obama Administration has made it very clear that it intends to attempt a paradigm shift in the way that America explores and utilizes space. The current plan NASA is following will be cancelled. But the intent to explore will remain and will be reconfigured into a new plan that openly taps private sector creativity while making certain that the taxpaying public is involved in an unprecedented fashion.

This plan for change comes with additional funds - to the tune of an additional $6 billion over FY 2011 to FY 2015 when compared to what the FY 2010 budget anticipated - approximately $700 million of which will appear in FY 2011. That means that NASA will get $100 billion over the next 5 years according to the White House's plans.

In so doing, the White House is hoping to make a clean break with much of the old way of doing things at NASA. As they do, NASA will be pushed to broaden its vision, seek new partnerships, and transform its way of doing things. This will be unsettling to many people.

However, that break begins with some hard choices - most notably, the outright cancellation of The Constellation Program. Started shortly after President Bush announced his "Vision for Space Exploration" in 2004, Constellation was the umbrella activity for what eventually became development activities for the Ares launch vehicle family, the Orion crew module, and the Altair lunar lander. All of this now comes to a halt."

Senator Shelby response to State of the Union, January 27 2010

"Our focus must be on jumpstarting the economy and creating jobs through policies that spur economic growth in the private sector. The path to economic recovery and sustained growth runs through the private sector, not the federal government."

Shelby: NASA Budget Begins Death March for U.S. Human Space Flight

"We cannot continue to coddle the dreams of rocket hobbyists and so-called 'commercial' providers who claim the future of US human space flight can be achieved faster and cheaper than Constellation. I have consistently stated the fallacy of believing the cure-all hype of these 'commercial' space companies, and my position has been supported time and again by both the experts and the facts."

Previous Shelby News



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