Congress: May 2010 Archives

Something Old, Something New, and If We do it Right, Maybe Even Something Bold! , Dennis Wingo

"As a long time space advocate, I have found recent events to be extremely disheartening. Before my eyes, I am seeing the battle between the old exploration plan (Constellation), and the new plan put forth recently by NASA and the White House. This is battle is compounded by the fact that it is forcing a Congress unwilling to take on more fights before the election to allow NASA to operate for months under a continuing resolution (CR) for its next budget year.

The effect of this CR will be that NASA will have two zombie programs. By "zombie" I mean programs that were supposed to go away in FY 2011 but will be in a limbo state under a threatened Continuing Resolution - funded with their end dates no longer certain, but unable to truly move forward as they await their fate."

NASA's mission to nowhere: Big, fat, pointless and expensive describes plan to twiddle our fingers, Paul Spudis and Bob Zubrin, Washington Times

"Although we are known for holding different opinions on the order and importance of specific objectives in space, we are united in our concern over this move to turn away from the Vision for Space Exploration (hereafter referred to as Vision). Vision gave NASA's human spaceflight program a clear direction: to reach the moon and Mars. Congressional authorization bills in 2005 (under Republican leadership) and 2008 (under Democratic leadership) endorsed this goal."

NASA's vision gets another battering, MSNBC

"By now you probably have figured out that this committee is not with you," Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., told Bolden. The administrator said he was getting that message."

Armstrong, Cernan challenge plan to scrap moon program, Houston Chronicle

"It was during long flights to the Middle East for goodwill visits to American troops that former astronauts Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan and James Lovell hatched a plan to step out of the pages of history with a mission to change its course once more. The carefully calculated decision in March has brought two of the three marquee space pioneers to the halls of Capitol Hill to publicly -- and politically -- challenge President Barack Obama's plan to scrap the nation's back-to-the-moon program."

Ex-astronauts blast 'nowhere' mission, Huntsville Times

"We (Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and I) have come to the unanimous conclusion that this budget proposal presents no challenges, has no focus and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere,'" Cernan said in his written testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology."

Legendary astronauts outline shortfalls of Obama spaceflight plan, The Hill

"From the very beginning it was clear that NASA's proposal lacked the sufficient detail that Congress would need to determine whether it was a credible plan," Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) said."

NASA Finds New Criticism and Skepticism Before Congress

"So far we have not seen any hard analysis from the administration that would give us confidence that it can be done for the amount budgeted," [Rep. Bart Gordon] said."

EDITORIAL: NASA future still a vast unknown, Huntsville Times

"A story Tuesday by Times aerospace writer Lee Roop said the General Accountability Office has warned NASA headquarters against crossing the legal line of initiating new space policy while Congress continues to debate whether Constellation will end. U.S. Reps. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville, Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and 13 other members of Congress requested the GAO investigation to determine whether the new mission planning violated the law against creating new programs, projects or activities."

Utah Lawmakers Unhappy With Obama NASA Plan, Capitol News

"Utah lawmakers are pushing back against President Obama's proposal for NASA and the future of human space flight. Jobs in Utah and nationwide are in jeopardy."

Obama NASA Changes Could Benefit Colorado, Capitol News

"President Obama wants to scrap the so-called Constellation program and focus on new technology for the future. He's also calling for increased reliance on the private sector for manned space flight. Jobs around the country are in jeopardy and many lawmakers, especially Republicans, are vowing to block the President's plan. Not Udall."

House Committee on Science and Technology Reviews, Questions NASA's Proposed Human Spaceflight Plan

"The task before us today is to determine if the Administration's plan actually is doable under the Administration's proposed budget--that it actually is 'executable' and truly puts NASA on a 'sustainable path'. It does no good to cancel a program that the Administration characterizes as 'unexecutable', if that program is simply replaced with a new plan that can't be executed either," stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

GAO report says NASA didn't break law with 'study teams, Huntsville Times

"NASA hasn't broken the law by spending nearly 13,000 hours of staff time planning what comes after the Constellation rocket program, the Government Accountability Office said Monday, but it must be careful not to cross the legal line while Congress continues to debate whether Constellation will end. The GAO investigated NASA's recent activities in response to a March request from U.S. Rep. Parker Griffith, R-Huntsville; U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville; and 13 other representatives."

Keith's 25 May update: Members of the Constellation community are saying that they have been told that contract termination letters for Constellation work will be sent out on/around 1 June. Moreover, Jeff Hanley has reportedly been telling his troops not to worry about these contract-related letters since the "Plan B" sorts of work that he has been directing them to do (with Mike Coats' and Charlie Bolden's backing) are really to set the stage for things that "the next Administration" will be doing. Stay tuned.

House Science and Technology Committee Hearing: Review of the Proposed NASA Human Spaceflight Plan

"26 May 2010: Witnesses: Charles Bolden, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Tom Young"

10 am EDT - Webcast live here

Keith's note: It is becoming increasingly apparent that every hearing on the topic of President Obama's space policy - especially when Charlie Bolden is in the hot seat - is designed to be an ambush announced in advance. The witness panel is usually stacked numerically with opponents. In this case this hearing is a blatant attempt to pick up the food fight where it left off last week on the other side of the Hill. Since it is fair game to repeatedly have Apollo astronauts testify who are publicly against the plan, why not have a few Apollo vets testify who are publicly for it - like Buzz Aldrin and Rusty Schweickart?

And by the way, with all due respect for the accomplishments of all of these who have or will testify, but when is Congress going to call upon people to testify who will actually spend their future career living and working in the space program that is being discussed? Why is it that we only seem to hear from 60-,70-, 80-year olds talking about someone else's future?

CAGW Releases Issue Brief on NASA Constellation Program

"President Obama has taken a step in the right direction by proposing to cancel the unsustainable Constellation Program in favor of looking to increased reliance on the private sector and investment in technologies that can lower the cost of human space exploration," concluded Schatz. "Congress should not interfere with this objective."

Issue Brief on the Constellation program., Citizens Against Government Waste

"According to Citizens Against Government Waste's 2010 Congressional Pig Book database, Sen. Shelby earmarked 60 projects worth $173 million in fiscal year 2010, so it is no surprise that he is abusing the appropriations process by slipping the Constellation program into the emergency spending bill. This is one of many reasons why taxpayers remain outraged over excessive spending in Washington."

Unpaid lobby goes to bat for NASA, Houston Chronicle

"Rice University doctoral candidate Laurie Carrillo flew to Washington, D.C., on her own dime to stump for NASA, one of 152 students and other unpaid citizens who have taken up the call to save space agency programs by knocking on the doors of Capitol Hill. "Maybe 20 percent of the people are still neutral, sort of wait-and-see. But their antenna are up, and I think that's really heartening," said the native of San Antonio who began her distinguished academic career at Rice with a $48,000 scholarship from NASA headquarters."

League City councilman appeals for NASA budget, Galveston Daily News

"Cuts among NASA contractors at the Johnson Space Center would undermine League City's economy should Congress approve President Barack Obama's 2011 NASA budget, Councilman Mike Lee said. Lee traveled to Washington, D.C., with members of the Citizens for Space Exploration, an organization of people from 31 states that urges Congress to support human space missions."

Allocade to Participate in NASA Spinoff Day on the Hill

"Allocade, Inc., the developer of innovative healthcare software technology solutions, today announced that it would participate in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Spinoff Day on the Hill. ... Members of Congress and the NASA administrator, Charlie Bolden, will speak about the importance of bringing NASA technologies out into the public sector. In addition, NASA's new chief technologist, Dr. Bobby Braun and NASA's director of the Innovative Partnerships Program, Doug Comstock, will highlight the selected participating companies."

Keith's note: At a time (once again) when NASA ought to be focusing on what it does for taxpayers, the private sector, Congress etc. you would think that there would be a little more effort put into promoting an event such as this. Yum. All that juicy NASA spinoff goodness just waiting to be shared.

Alas, there is no mention of it on the NASA calendar at the media page. No mention at the NASA IPP webpage either - or at NASA Tech Briefs - or on Twitter at NASA_Spinoff. Nor is there any mention at the House Science and Technology Committee's web page (Rayburn 2325 is one of the hearing rooms they regularly use).

Only 2 working days left to get the word out. And when no one from the media or elsewhere shows up at non-promoted events such as this, NASA scratches its collective head and wonders why. Oh well.

Keith's update: I have learned (from someone@NASA) who saw this posting on NASA Watch that there is a flyer online for this event as a PDF here. The flyer lists Brett Silcox at Code L as the contact. Yet when I check the Code L web page - there is no link.

Letter from Apollo Astronaut Russell Schweickart to Sen. Bill Nelson Regarding President Obama's Proposed NASA Budget

"I write this letter, as an Apollo astronaut, to state my strong support for the proposed NASA space program as modified by President Obama in his April 15, 2010 speech in Florida. I, like many of my fellow astronauts, am greatly concerned that our nation's historic leadership in space exploration is eroding to the point where we will shortly lose that title. We Apollo-era people gave the United States everything we had to regain leadership in space from the Soviet Union back in the 60s and we hate like hell to see it drift away from us now.

With what I believe to be the coming loss of US leadership in human space exploration in mind, the question of how best to regain that leadership breaks into two fundamental elements; our current situation and our direction going forward. In terms of relative importance I weigh these at 80% and 20% respectively.

Our current situation is akin to being on a dead end road. Instead of being on a path toward the goal we all seek, i.e. to regain our leadership position in human space exploration, we must recognize that we are (and have been) on a path to nowhere. We are confronted with arguments to ignore the clear signs of this sad situation and even encouraged to accelerate along this futile path.

The alternative to this is support for the President's proposed plan. It recognizes and eliminates the waste of precious resources in the current program and heads us in a productive direction toward our desired destination. In other words, when you recognize you are on a dead end road, stop, turn around, and head in a direction more useful to your goal."

Busy Schedule for Rocket Obama Wants Scrapped, NY Times

"Last month, in a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, President Obama modified his proposal, originally unveiled in February, and called for continuing the development of the Orion crew capsule that was to ride on top of the Ares I, but only as a stripped-down lifeboat for the International Space Station. The Ares program would still be canceled. Jeffrey M. Hanley, the Constellation program manager, said in an interview that given the uncertainty of what might emerge in the final budget, "we felt it prudent to continue to operate in the program as if the program were to continue." He described that possibility as "the unlikely case." ... He acknowledged that his efforts were somewhat at cross-purposes with those of his bosses, who are trying to convince Congress that Constellation is unworkable. "I really have to leave it to them to sort out with the national leadership," he said.

Contractors Face Shutdown Costs as NASA Space Program Morphs, Wall Street Journal

"The current clash stems in part from NASA's tradition of giving the Johnson Space Center --where U.S. astronauts are based -- extra latitude in running programs. According to industry and government officials, the Houston center frequently wasn't required to comply strictly with the same accounting and program-management rules that applied to other parts of the agency. That partly explains why many Constellation managers consistently relied on assurances from some NASA managers that the agency would step in and cover liabilities in the unlikely event termination became an issue."

Charlie Bolden's stand on NASA, Constellation and Ares I tests, Orlando Sentinel

"I talk to Jeff quite a bit. As far as I am concerned, Jeff does exactly what I asked him to do, to be quite honest. And Jeff and NASA, we are in a tough situation in that we have to comply with the 2010 provision in law that says we cannot terminate [Constellation], we cannot do this. Everybody knows that the language is and yet we have to be responsive to my desire to move forward."

Shelby adds Constellation-saving measure to emergency war bill, Huntsville Times

"U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, has raised the stakes in the fight over NASA's Constellation program by attaching a measure to protect it to an emergency war funding bill that must pass Congress this year. The amendment "clarifies and reinforces" current law, Shelby's staff said, which already requires congressional approval before ending Constellation."

NASA's Constellation gets big boost in Senate, Houston Chronicle

"The maneuver was pushed by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Dallas and proposed by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah. By including the language in a $58.8 billion budget supplemental to underwrite the costs of combat, Hutchison and her allies virtually assured that the restriction will be adopted by the full Senate and House and signed by Obama -- because the costs of the Afghanistan war must be funded."

Mikulski 'Troubled' by Approach to Constellation Termination, Space News

"I am advised that NASA has undertaken a series of steps to direct industry to retain certain funds made available in fiscal year 2010 to cover prospective termination costs so as not to potentially violate the terms of the Antideficiency Act," Mikulski wrote in a May 10 letter to White House budget chief Peter Orszag. Mikulski, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA spending, gave Orszag until May 25 to review NASA's contract termination liability practices and develop a detailed plan to implement and pay for a new standard "to deal fairly with industry."

NASA's moon program gets a boost from Congress, Orlando Sentinel

"The measure by Republican Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Bob Bennett of Utah would force NASA to keep spending money on the Constellation moon program in 2010, even though President Barack Obama wants to cancel a key component: the Ares rockets that would boost an Apollo-like capsule into orbit."

Shelby: Amendment Protects Constellation Program

"The President's NASA proposal has no clear direction other than to cancel Constellation, at any price, even if it means relinquishing our leadership in space," said Shelby. "NASA is now attempting to undermine current law as it relates to Fiscal Year 2010 Constellation funding by slow rolling contracts and pressuring companies to self-terminate. It is disappointing that the political appointees at NASA have so much trouble following the letter and spirit of law."

Aerospace group spent $215K lobbying in 1Q, AP

"The Aerospace Industries Association of America Inc., which represents aviation and defense companies, spent $215,334 in the first quarter lobbying on funding for space exploration, the military's space budget, missile defense, and other issues, according to a disclosure report."

Raytheon spent $1.6 million on 1Q lobbying efforts, AP

"Raytheon, based in Waltham, Mass., also lobbied on issues including the Federal Aviation Administration's budget, the Department of Homeland Security's budget, NASA's budget, and the Defense Authorization Act., according to a filing on April 20."

Northrop Grumman Spent $4.1M Lobbying in 1Q, AP

"Northrop, based in Los Angeles, lobbied for funding in the defense spending bill on dozens of weapons systems for several branches of the armed forces. It also lobbied on satellite and space-related systems, health care and pension reform proposals."

General Dynamics spends $2.25M on 1Q lobbying, AP

"General Dynamics lobbied the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Joint Chiefs of Staff. It also lobbied NASA on aeronautical and ground-based programs and the departments of labor and health on its medical technology systems."

Hearing Reaction

Armstrong Says Obama 'Poorly Advised' on NASA, Experts Ignored, Bloomberg

"A plan that was invisible to so many was likely contrived by a very small group in secret who persuaded the president that this was a unique opportunity to put his stamp on a new and innovative program," Armstrong said in remarks prepared for a Senate hearing. "I believe the president was poorly advised."

Former Astronauts unhappy with Obama space plan, AP

"Cernan said in his written testimony that he, Armstrong and Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell agreed that the administration's budget for human space exploration "presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to 'nowhere.'" Lovell, while not present at the hearing, issued a statement opposing Obama's NASA budget."

Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Eugene Cernan oppose Obama's spaceflight plans, Washington Post

"Obama's plans, which increase NASA's budget at a time when most agencies' budgets are being cut, have irked lawmakers from southern states where most of NASA and its contractors are based. Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) worried that the plans would allow other countries to leapfrog ahead of the United States. "I do not look forward to explaining to my children why the Chinese are putting their flag on the moon over ours," LeMieux said."

Moon Walkers Defend Space Flight at Senate Hearings, Time

"Armstrong had previously urged the continued use of the soon-to-be-retired space shuttles, which Augustine's committee and other review boards have deemed to be on their last legs, and twice stumbled trying to turn on his microphone after almost sitting in the wrong chair. One couldn't help but wonder whether he's more an icon of NASA's past than a voice for its future. "We need a new direction," Rockefeller said at the beginning of the hearing. "The American people deserve the most from their space program. NASA's role cannot stay static."

Keith's note: According eye witnesses, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan showed up a little early today before their hearing on Capitol Hill. They arrived at the special ante room (waiting room) mentioned by Sen. Rockefeller at one point in the hearings. According to these eye witnesses, Armstrong and Cernan were accompanied by Mike Griffin. This synchs with the widely-held suspicon that not only did Griffin help write Neil Armstrong's prepared comments, but also that Griffin has been spearheading much of the behind the scenes lobbying against the Obama Space policy on Capitol Hill. Gee, I hope he is registered ... Stay tuned.

Keith's note: The witnesses for todays's hearing: Holdren, Bolden, Armstrong, Cernan, and Augustine. ESMD AA Doug Cooke briefed Armstrong and Cernan last week via telecon on the results of NASA's internal exploration working group studies in advance of today's Senate hearing.

Keith's update: Prepared statements: Charles Bolden, John Holdren, Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Norm Augustine

Keith's update: Gene Cernan testified that he had a telecon last week with Bolden and that Bolden said that he was determined to do whatever was required to make the commerical space portion of the new policy successful and that commercial space may need a "bailout like GM/Chrysler" and that it "may be the largest bailout in history".

I find it rather astonishing that Mr. Bolden would say such a thing and then not recall saying it. Either he was freelancing (something that OSTP has had issues with in the past) or he was repeating something that the White House had told him. If indeed the White House has discussed this possibility and assured Bolden that he'd have their backing, then Bolden is all but admitting that he and the Administration are embarking upon a commercial strategy with substantial pitfalls (i.e. Chrysler/GM bailouts of $15-17 billion). Moreover, these pitfalls have, up until this moment, not been divulged in public or (apparently) to Congress.

But wait -- the "largest bailout in history" was AIG - and that was for $180 billion. Is Bolden really suggesting that this is what all of this could cost? I am also confused as to what he means by "bail out" since GM and Chrysler have to pay this money back. Is Bolden suggesting that these companies would pay this money back?

From a staff perspective, someone on Bolden's staff should have flagged this comment of Bolden's when he made it and made certain that he was (at a minimum) prepared to respond and explain - and not be caught off guard in the manner that he was.

Mollohan loses in West Virginia, Politico

"Rep. Alan Mollohan, a 14-term incumbent, has been defeated by state Sen. Mike Oliverio in West Virginia's Democratic primary, according to the Associated Press. With 76 percent of the vote in, Oliverio led Mollohan 56 percent to 44 percent."

Oliverio and Mollohan Duel in 1st District Democrat Race, Wheeling News Register

"In the current Congress, Mollohan is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. The subcommittee funds the departments of Justice and Commerce, as well as NASA and the National Science Foundation, among other agencies."

Obey Won't Run for Re-election, NY Times

"Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and one of the most powerful and longest-serving Democrats in Congress, announced today that he will not seek re-election and will step down after 41 years."

Letter from Lester Lyles, Raymond Colladay, and Len Fisk To Rep. Frank Wolf Regarding NASA FY 2011 Budget

"It makes no more sense to have a NASA with an under-emphasis on human spaceflight than it did to have a NASA with an over-emphasis. The strategic leadership of the United States in a rapidly evolving globalized world, the economic well-being of our people, and the sense in our society that our future is promising, all require a NASA that has breadth in science and technology, and accomplishments in both robotic and human spaceflight. The burden of proof thus now lies with Congress and NASA to define and to develop a human spaceflight program that does not re-inflict damage on the breadth of NASA's activities and that serves the nation well. It is possible to do this."

NASA Managers Push Plan In Congress, Academia, Aviation Week

"So far it does not appear the Obama administration's plan is winning many hearts and minds. A session with a range of space organizations produced a few tidbits, like word that the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate plans to release a bunch of requests for information in the next couple of weeks to get industry input as a Houston-based NASA study panel prepares road maps for human space exploration. Those would replace the Constellation Program, which refuses to lie down and die on Capitol Hill even though President Barack Obama wants to kill it. Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and other agency officials asked a gathering of mostly academic space organizations for help with the plan in Congress, after barring reporters from the meeting. But the groups decided not to form a coalition for that purpose, and as of the end of last week were still hammering out details of a joint statement that will endorse some -- but not all -- of the space policy changes embodied in NASA's Fiscal 2011 budget request."

Colorado leaders to lobby on Capitol Hill for state projects, Denver Post

"The group will advocate for the Orion crew capsule, left, being developed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems as an emergency escape vehicle for the international space station and foundation for deep-space exploration; growing military assets; a federal investment in medical research; and funding for several interchanges and FasTracks."

US must remain the global leader in exploring space, Rep. Pete Olson, The Hill

"The president does not outline any path for the United States to get out of low earth orbit. A major component, the revised "Orion-lite" proposal, is little more than an opportunity to delay the inevitable layoffs of highly skilled workers across America and does not further our ability as a nation to explore the heavens or get us to the moon, Mars and beyond. It has also been reported as a mechanism to prevent the government from having to pay out costly Constellation cancellation contracts. This is not a strategy for success in human space flight. It turns the capsule designed to be our spacecraft for journeys to the moon into a lifeboat on the International Space Station."

Crisis of purpose for America's space program, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, The Hill

"As conscientious stewards of the American taxpayers dollars, Congress demanded more. In response, the president took the stage last month at Kennedy Space Center and, showing a clear passion for space and a will to compromise, unveiled a new plan. Unfortunately this new plan creates more questions than answers and seems unworkable within the budget without crippling NASAs other missions. We cannot continue to argue between the president's plan and the status quo. There must be a third way."

Keith's note: Several Three Four Five NASA Watch readers sent this email to me today. Looks like someone in Sen. Feinstein's office needs to learn how to use their word processing software a little better. Click on image to enlarge.

Two Three Four of the people who sent me this email said that they never contacted Sen. Feinstein - in any way - about NASA - or anything else. Looks like GoBoldly's fake emails are still echoing around. The annoying thing about this is that the director of GoBoldly admitted to me that this happened but the organization has not publicly apologized.

Fake Emails - Not A Good Sign (update), earlier post.

How space exploration helps us on Earth

"The international space station's research capabilities are now available after years of construction and $100 billion of investment. It offers opportunities to conduct research in an environment unavailable on Earth and it must be sustained, but not just for the sake of science. One problem in the president's proposal is that it does not address the risk to the station that will result from retiring the space shuttle and canceling the Constellation replacement program at the same time. A healthy and viable space station is critical to the emergence of the commercial space industry that the president's proposal relies on. If the space station is lost, the primary reason to send humans into space in the next decade will be lost."

Bipartisanship key for the future of space program

"While we are encouraged the president showed a willingness to make some changes to his proposal for NASA during his visit to Florida, members of Congress from both parties still have concerns. These concerns include the readiness of the commercial space industry to fill the role the president envisions, and how to minimize the risk to the International Space Station, which after more than a decade of construction and $100 billion in investment is about to realize its full research potential."

Obama Proposal Likely Unresolved This Year, Aviation Week

"Continuing opposition in Congress to the "game-changing" policy shift is making it more likely that NASA funding will be handled as a "continuing resolution" this year, instead of an appropriations bill reflecting the changes Obama wants. That would add to the confusion, because it would leave NASA to continue working on the Constellation Program that is killed in the agency's Fiscal 2011 budget request."



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from May 2010.

Congress: April 2010 is the previous archive.

Congress: June 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.