Congress: July 2010 Archives

Vote on NASA Bill Appears Unlikely Before September, Space News

"With little time remaining in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) sought to bring the measure to the House floor under suspension of the rules -- a move that prevents amendments to a bill and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. But Gordon encountered resistance from House members hoping to weigh in on the measure during floor debate. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and other House Democrats met with Gordon early July 29 to address concerns with key elements of the legislation."

NASA bill stays grounded, Politico

"Concerns quickly prompted the Buckeye State and Golden State lawmakers to approach House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Wednesday to complain. Hoyer directed the members to huddle with Gordon on Thursday morning to resolve political tensions, according to a source close to the process. Some say that lawmakers took from that meeting a guarantee that the chairman would not try to rush the bill under rules that prevent amendments and are generally reserved for non-controversial measures. So many were surprised when Gordon soon resumed pushing to bring up the NASA authorization bill with the help of those suspension rules."

IFPTE/AFGE Letter on NASA Authorization Act

"The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) are writing to inform you that this bill is far from non-controversial. In this regard, IFPTE and AFGE urge you to oppose HR 5781 if it comes before you in its current form."

Vote on NASA Bill Appears Unlikely Before September, Space News

"The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said in a July 29 statement that the organization supports the House version of the NASA authorization."

Commercial Space Advocates Rally To Stall NASA Authorization Bill, SpaceNews

"House sources said July 28 that a floor vote on the NASA authorization could come as early as July 29, but opponents of the bill -- primarily commercial space advocates -- were successful in stalling the measure, which now is unlikely to be considered before July 30, sources said. Gordon is seeking to bring the measure to the House floor under suspension of the rules, a procedural tactic that prevents amendments to a bill during limited floor debate and which requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass."

Showdown over space policy, MSNBC

"H.R. 5781, the House's version of the $19 billion NASA authorization bill for fiscal 2011, lops off most of $6 billion being sought by the Obama administration for boosting the development of commercial spaceships capable of bringing astronauts to the International Space Station over the next five years. Instead, it would put more money into the internal NASA rocket development program - although not as much as previously budgeted under a plan that an independent panel said was "not viable."

Competing NASA bills on collision course in Congress, SpaceflightNow

"The House bill only calls for $150 million in direct funding for commercial crew projects through 2013. NASA would provide another $100 million per year under the pending legislation, summing an investment of $450 million spread over three years. Those figures are significantly lower than the budget proposed in the Senate's authorization act and the Senate's spending bill, which offer $1.3 billion in commercial crew funding over the same time period."

Your Help Urgently Needed to Save the Future of Human Spaceflight, SpaceX

"If you care about the future of American space exploration, your urgent help is necessary. The only hope for the average citizen to one day travel to space is in danger due to the actions of certain members of Congress. SpaceX does not have the enormous lobbying power of the big government contractors to stop them, however with your help the day can still be saved.

NASA's Authorization bill (H.R. 5781) will be debated on the floor of the US House of Representatives tomorrow. Despite the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle, H.R. 5781 authorizes over five times as many taxpayer dollars to fly NASA astronauts on the Russian Soyuz than it invests in developing an American commercial alternative, moreover at a time when jobs are sorely needed in the United States. Quite simply, this bill represents the sort of senseless pork politics that has driven our national debt to the point where our economy can barely service it.

The bill is expected to be brought to the House floor this Friday under a special "suspension of the rules," which is a procedure that limits debate and amendments.

Telephone your Congressional representative right away via the House Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask them to vote NO on H.R. 5781, and instead support the bill unanimously agreed to in the Senate last week.

Your five minutes will make a critical difference, ensuring an exciting and inspiring future in space travel! SpaceX rarely asks you to take action, so you know it really matters when we do.


Look up your representative here."

GAO: NASA Constellation Program and Appropriations Restrictions, Part II B-320091, July 23, 2010

"Congressional Requesters: In a letter dated March 12, 2010, you requested information and our views on whether the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) complied with the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 and with restrictions in the fiscal year 2010 Exploration appropriation when NASA took certain actions pertaining to the Constellation program. ... CONCLUSION: NASA's actions to date with regard to the Constellation program have not violated either the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 or the provision in the fiscal year 2010 Exploration appropriation that bars NASA from terminating or eliminating any PPAs of the architecture for the Constellation program."

Senate compromise may be setting up NASA for another failure, Orlando Sentinel

"The plan orders NASA to build a heavy-lift rocket and capsule capable of reaching the International Space Station by 2016. But it budgets less money for the new spacecraft - roughly $11 billion over three years, with $3 billion next year -- than what the troubled Constellation program would have received. That - plus the short deadline -- has set off alarms. Days before the compromise was announced, NASA chief Charlie Bolden and Deputy Lori Garver told its two champions -- U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Florida and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas -- that NASA could not finish the proposed new rocket before 2020, according to three sources present at the meetings. When asked about the conversation, Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said the NASA officials were responding to lower dollar figures than what Congress ultimately approved. NASA spokesman Michael Cabbage said it "would not be appropriate to discuss private conversations between NASA and members of Congress."

Keith's note: Word has it that there are big worries at NASA and Northrop Grumman with regard to Webb Space Telescope. If NASA ends up operating under a Continuing Resolution - one that does not provide the increased funds that Webb requires - there is a fear that large layoffs may be in the near-term forecast. Stay tuned.

Letter From California House Members to Rep. Bart Gordon Regarding NASA's FY 2011 Budget

"The President's NASA budget replaces an over-budget and behind-schedule Constellation Program with a sustainable architecture that will take the Agency in a new direction enabling NASA to explore more of our universe. It offers a serious plan to reduce the cost of access to the International Space Station, without exporting that responsibility to other nations. We believe this new direction is good for the country and that California's NASA centers and those across the country can help take NASA to new and exciting destinations. We hope to work with you as you move this important legislation forward."

House NASA Bill Puts Brakes on Commercial Crew Initiative, Space News

"According to the bill text, commercial crew programs would get just $50 million annually through 2015 and another $500 million over that same time period via direct government loans or loan guarantees. Although the bill fully funds the $4.2 billion sought for routine commercial cargo resupply runs to the space station starting in 2011, it reduces the president's $312 million request for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Service (COTS) program next year to just $14 million. The Senate version provided $300 million for the agency's COTS providers in 2011."

House, Senate have different ideas for NASA's future, Florida Today

"There is no additional shuttle flight, funding would be slashed for commercial rockets and NASA would be told to "restructure" the Constellation program that Obama wanted to kill. The bill diverges significantly from a measure approved by a Senate panel last week, which the White House supports. The differences threaten to delay consensus on the space agency's policy. "We are facing tough economic times that demand tough choices," said Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee."

NASA Legislation Embraced by Appropriations Committee Presents Unified Senate Position on Space

"Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said the approval of the Commerce, Science, Justice Appropriations legislation by the Senate Appropriations Committee today presents a unified Senate position on NASA and the future of America's human spaceflight programs."

Keith's note: There may come a point where the White House says that they cannot support this "compromise". It all seems to hinge on whether the "compromise" that the White House got with the Senate prevails over the "compromise" that the House wants - one that the White House has been silent about thus far. Either way, Congress has thrown the original White House proposal back in OMB/OSTP's face in a form that more or less brings Constellation back to life (minus the name) albeit without Ares 1 or Altair. Ares V simply has a new name. And the commerical aspirations inherent in the White House plans? They are reduced (depending on which "compromise" you look at) to the point of being window dressing - if not outright irrelevant.

The fact that the White House has yielded to Congressional pressure can be seen a number of ways. You could just say that they are being pragmatic and realistic with regard to what can be realistically accomplished. But given the way in which they initially hurled the policy out with near zero pre-coordination, and then brought the President in for a quick fix when it flopped, you have to wonder if they even planned things in advance or considered the long term strategic issues that they'd need to address. And now they show little if any spine when Congress repudiates the entire package. This makes you wonder if the White House ever actually had serious interest in this policy in the first place. Indeed, this entire process has been composed of several sudden spikes of activity by the White House followed by long periods of disinterest and/or silence.

The fix is in for the time being, it would seem. But you all know that we'll all be revisiting this situation in 18-24 months when costs start to rise and an election amplifies the political rhetoric once again.

Is this any way to explore the solar system?

Congress to NASA: "Help is on the way", Houston Chronicle

"And what's the message for Johnson Space Center? "The first message is we love you," [Rep.] Olson said. "We think about what these men and women are doing right now with all this uncertainty about their future. They're remaining focused on their mission. And my message to them is that help is on the way. The House and Senate are hard at work to ensure that we have a viable space program."

House Takes Steps to Preserve Ares Rocket and Manned Space Flight, Rep. Bishop

"It is extremely encouraging that both the House and Senate, in a bipartisan manner, have recognized the importance of maintaining solid rocket motor technologies, such as the Ares 1 rocket. The draft House version of this bill is a strong repudiation of the President's flawed proposal - stronger even than the good developments we saw last week out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation."

Media alert: Florida, Texas trying end-run for space shuttle, National Aviation Heritage Alliance

"Florida and Texas are trying to make an end run around NASA's competitive process to decide where to give the retired space shuttles by getting Congress to weigh the decision in their favor. ... Tucked into the NASA reauthorization bill that Congress is now taking up is a provision which directs NASA to give "priority consideration" to a site with a historical relationship with "either the launch, flight operations, or processing of the Space Shuttle orbiters."

Shelby: CJS Bill Sustains Human Space Flight

"U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced subcommittee approval of the fiscal year 2011 CJS Appropriations bill, which restores significant funding for NASA's human space flight program. Following today's action by the subcommittee, the bill will now go to the full Appropriations Committee for consideration."

Letter to Senators Mikulski and Shelby from Apollo Astronauts Neil Armstrong, James Lovell, and Eugene Cernan, 20 July 2010

"This week, Chairman Gordon of the House Committee on Science and Technology released his Committee's version of the NASA Reauthorization Bill. Cosponsored by Committee Ranking Member Hall, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairwoman Giffords and Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Olson, the bill reflects the Committee's belief of those plan components necessary to assure a worthy national space and aeronautics program."

NASA Authorization Act of 2010 - House of Representatives Draft

"(10) In an environment of constrained budgets, responsible stewardship of taxpayer-provided resources makes it imperative that NASA's exploration program be carried out in a manner that builds on the investments made to date in the Orion, Ares I, and heavy lift projects and other activities of the exploration program in existence prior to fiscal year 2011 rather than discarding them. A restructured exploration program should pursue the incremental development and demonstration of crewed and heavy-lift transportation systems in a manner that ensures that investments to provide assured access to low-Earth orbit also directly support the expeditious development of the heavy lift launch vehicle system, minimize the looming human space flight ''gap'', provide a very high level of crew safety, and enable challenging missions beyond low-Earth orbit in a timely manner."

Frank Sietzen Jr.: Last week, the Senate Commerce, Science and Space Committee marked up a draft of a proposed FY2011 Authorization bill for NASA. That bill maintains the Obama administration's top line budget for the civil space agency, but otherwise it contains virtually none of the individual funding areas for human spaceflight that the administration had sought.

But it's my contention that the bill, whether or not it ever gets passed into law, is an historic development in legislative space affairs. Back in 2004, in our book "New Moon Rising", Keith Cowing and I used the phrase "opening a hinge of history" to describe how the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster provided an opening for an historic new direction in space policy. We initially perceived that direction as being the first era of human spaceflight since 1972 that was not to be dominated by the Shuttle program. But what really emerged would eventually become the so-called "Vision for Space Exploration".

NASA appears to no longer be shooting for the stars, opinion, LA Times

"The $150-million facility was built to contain the next-generation manned spacecraft for the Constellation program, NASA's project to send humans back to the moon. It is the largest acoustic test chamber in the world, created to buffet the spacecraft with intense sound waves, simulating the stresses of launch. The only problem is that the Constellation program almost certainly will be dead within months. President Obama in January proposed cancelling the troubled moon program, and a key Senate committee voted this week to kill Constellation."

NASA 'compromise' a good start, editorial, Huntsville Times

"Portions of the Constellation program, including the Orion crew capsule and a heavy-lift rocket designed to travel to Mars, appear likely to survive in some form but details won't be known until the final vote. The $19 billion budget provides for another shuttle flight some time next summer in addition to planned launches in November and February next year."

JSC rescue: Senate bill bolstering manned space flight welcome news for Houston, Houston Chronicle

"There's a lot for Houstonians to like in the $19 billion spending plan. While it cancels the Constellation program moon missions, it substitutes Mars and asteroids as long-term destinations. It will extend the life of the International Space Station through 2020, direct NASA to build a new heavy-lift launch rocket to be operational in six years, and continue development of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. At the same time it preserves the thrust of the Obama plan to support development of commercial launch crews to low Earth orbit."

Keith's note: The folks at the LA Times should do a little more fact checking. Yes, Constellation is being cancelled, but no Orion is not. So this test stand will still find use.

Senate Committee's NASA Plan Cuts Moon Program, NY Times

"The committee acceded on the cancellation of the Ares I rocket, which is part of the return-to-the-moon program known as Constellation, but called on NASA to start development of a larger heavy-lift rocket in 2011, likely to be based on shuttle components, that could be ready for launching by the end of 2016. The administration had proposed waiting until as late as 2015 to start work on a heavy-lift rocket, which would be needed for human missions to asteroids and Mars."

A small step for bill - but a leap for JSC, Houston Chronicle

"Although the White House has not formally signaled its approval of the Senate plan, there may be enough carrots in the proposed legislation to win Obama's support. "We think this is a great start," said Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator. "It accomplishes the major shifts the president set out to have for the space program." An unnamed White House official not authorized to comment said "the bill appears to contain the critical elements necessary for achieving the president's mission for NASA."

Panel approves compromise plan to save space jobs and add shuttle mission, Reuters

"The NASA plan approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee supports President Obama's call to end the moon-bound Constellation program, the human space flight successor to the shuttle program. But the three-year NASA spending plan passed by the committee adds a $1 billion shuttle mission to the International Space Station for next summer or fall and leaves contracts, equipment and personnel in place in case other flights are needed."

Adoption of NASA compromise means continued leadership in space exploration (Rep. Frank Wolf), The Hill

"In a rare victory for bipartisanship and the legislative branch, Congress has rallied behind an important compromise plan to ensure continued American leadership in space. Six months after the release of the president's budget -- which effectively mothballed NASA's exploration program -- the Senate and House have sent a clear signal to the White House that such cuts are unacceptable."

Mayor Battle: New NASA Bill Is Good For Huntsville, WHNT

"I am very pleased with many provisions of this bill as it returns us to a balanced mix of commercial and government funded space travel and research and development for future systems. This bill is a breakthrough in moving us much closer to the positions established by Senator Shelby. This bill is good for the Nation, good for Alabama and good for Huntsville."

Senate committee orders a new course -- and new rocket -- for NASA, Orlando Sentinel

"However, Space Coast officials had bought into Obama's plan to spend $10.1 billion to develop capacity for commercial rockets to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, more robotic missions and technology research that the administration had said would produce a new rocket capable of flying humans to an asteroid by 2025. Brevard officials had hoped that Kennedy Space Center and surrounding businesses could compete for more commercial launches and robotic missions as well as chunks of the research money."

Space Deal Would Allow Shuttle To Continue, Aviation Week and Space Technology

"In exchange for slowing work on commercial space taxis and gutting the Obama administration's proposed five-year, $7.8-billion new-technologies initiative, the Senate authorization would add at least one more shuttle mission to the two remaining flights on the manifest, and maintain the capability to fly a contingency mission to the space station through at least Sept. 30, 2011."

Committee Approves Hutchison Cosponsored Bill to Preserve America's Human Spaceflight Capabilities- Measure Balances Commercial Space Investment and Robust Mission for NASA

"The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today unanimously approved legislation cosponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member on the Committee, to safeguard America's human spaceflight capabilities while balancing commercial space investment with a robust mission for NASA. The bill was sponsored by Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and cosponsored by Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), David Vitter (R-La.) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.)."

Featured Legislation - The NASA Authorization Act of 2010

"The bill would authorize NASA appropriations for FY 2011-2013 with the same top-line budget values as the President's request to Congress. The bill would support an overall growth in science, aeronautics, and space technology and define a long-term goal for human space flight to expand a permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit. Key objectives of this goal would include full utilization of the International Space Station (ISS), determining the ability of humans to live in space for extended periods of time, maximizing the role of space exploration and technology in current and future missions, advancing knowledge and inspiring young people into higher education, and building upon international partnerships."

National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010: Section-by-Section


Sec. 201 - United States Human Space Flight Policy - The U.S. shall rely upon non-U.S. human space flight (HSF) capabilities only on a temporary basis under circumstances where no U.S. capability is available. Reaffirms policy of 2005 NASA reauthorization stating that the U.S. will maintain an uninterrupted HSF capability and operation in low-earth orbit (LEO) to maintain national security and leadership in exploration and utilization of space.

Sec. 202 - Goals and Objectives - The long-term goal of U.S. HSF efforts shall be to expand permanent human presence beyond LEO through establishment of a long-term LEO presence via the space station and commercial capabilities; to determine if humans can, in fact, live in an extended manner in space; lay foundation for sustainable economic activities in space, maximize role of HSF in advancing knowledge of the universe, national security and global competitive posture.

Sec. 203 - Assurance of Core Capabilities - Sense of Congress that the ISS, technology developments, Shuttle and follow-on transportation capabilities authorized under this act form the foundation for initial missions beyond LEO. Development of the follow-on transportation system will allow for the capability to restart and fly the Shuttle, if directed by Congress or the President, prior to completion of the final Shuttle mission. Authorizes refurbishment of manufactured external tank of the Shuttle designated as ET-94

Sec. 204 - Independent Study on Human Exploration of Space - Provides for an assessment by the National Academies of the President's plan for HSF and exploration."

CSF Lauds Senators Warner, Boxer, Tom Udall, and Brownback for Support of Commercial Spaceflight

"Following today's executive session of the Senate Commerce Committee, the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Bretton Alexander, stated, "Thanks to Senators Warner, Boxer, Udall, and Brownback, American industry won a victory today. But this legislation must be improved so that we create more sustainable American jobs, instead of exporting jobs to Russia. This compromise committee bill represents progress from the original draft, but there is still a long way to go to get to where the Augustine Committee said NASA needs to be."

Greater Houston Partnership Applauds bi-partisan compromise bill

"The Greater Houston Partnership today praised the bipartisan Senate authorization bill, a compromise effort marshaled by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison that would extend the life of the space shuttle program by a year; accelerate development of a heavy-lift launch vehicle; and preserve elements of the Constellation program."

Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Bill Nelson to Discuss Major Breakthrough on NASA Reauthorization Bill

"[Thursday], U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, will be joined by a number of their colleagues at a press conference on Thursday, July 15 at 11:45 a.m. EST in the Senate Radio and TV Gallery to discuss a major breakthrough on the NASA reauthorization bill. Tomorrow morning before the press conference, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will meet in an executive session to mark up the NASA reauthorization bill."

Senate committee votes today on compromise manned-space bill, Orlando Sentinel via Boston Herald

"And indeed, a senior administration official said the White House likely would not oppose the measure because it gives commercial rocket companies funding -- though less than what Obama had sought -- even as it speeds up design of a heavy-lift rocket that under Obama's timetable would not have flown until 2025. "While we are still in the process of reviewing the details of the draft, the bill appears to contain the critical elements necessary for achieving the president's vision for NASA and represents an important first step towards helping us achieve the key goals the president has laid out," said the aide, who was not authorized to speak on the record."

Bill Nelson's proposal unsettles Space Coast EDC, opinion, Florida Today

"A NASA Authorization Act that is likely to clear a U.S. Senate committee today could squander a rare opportunity for the Space Coast to transform its economy, local economic development officials said Wednesday. "The risk that this future may be bargained away for one more attuned to the needs of Alabama, Texas and Utah, in the name of political expediency, demands a response," leaders of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast wrote in a letter to Sen. Bill Nelson."

Better course on space, opinion, Orlando Sentinel

"By most accounts, Mr. Obama's proposal has failed to take off in Congress. Advocates of prolonging the shuttle program don't like it. Neither do lawmakers who represent districts counting on money and jobs from Constellation. Its prospects for passage are dim. But if Congress doesn't agree on an alternative, current space policy would survive by default. That would mean another year of work on Constellation -- billions over budget and years behind schedule -- and no real effort to reorient NASA's course."

Keith's note: According to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham posting as "51DMascot" at this morning, when asked to compare Nelson's and Hutchison's separately proposed legislation:

"Very good question...take a look at them side-by-side with respect to the human spaceflight portions...remember, the Hutchison bill (S. 3068) was focused on just the Human Spaceflight portions of NASA Authorization; this is a full authorization bill, so includes all of NASA, from a policy perspective. At the time she introduced her bill, it was noted that it could reflect a potential consensus direction that could form the core of a full NASA authorization bill."

The markup happens today at 10:00 am EDT in room 253, Russell Senate Office Building. Nelson and Hutchison will be announcing their "major breakthrough" after that mark up.

Space Coast leaders attack Nelson NASA bill, Orlando Sentinel

"I do not believe anyone in Brevard doubts your passion and commitment to NASA and its mission. However, the risk that this future for Florida might be bargained away for one more attuned to the needs of Alabama, Texas and Utah, in the name of political expediency, demands a response. There is no one on the Space Coast, least of all this EDC, that doesn't understand the need for a Heavy Lift Vehicle to enable NASA to go beyond LEO. And we zealously will seek to assure KSC participates fully in that endeavor. However, to sacrifice the workforce that so enriches our future is not something to which we can acquiesce quietly."

Senator Nelson Previews 2010 NASA Reauthorization Bill, AIP

"We are building consensus in what has otherwise been a consensus-less position of the future of the manned space program. The President had proposed one thing. He altered that. Different people have different ideas. Different aerospace companies all looking to have a certain part of the manned space program also have their different ideas. "Out of this mix, we are trying to bring together Senators to build a consensus in a bipartisan way; the space program is not only not partisan, it is not even bipartisan. It is nonpartisan - to be able to do this in a fairly unanimous way."

Senate's NASA "compromise" emerges. It undoes much of the President's space vision, Houston Chronicle (includes working draft of legislation)

"Sen. John Rockefeller, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has submitted the Senate version of the NASA budget this morning. It has been endorsed by Sen. Bill Nelson, a former NASA astronaut who many on the Hill look to for guidance on space issues, as well as Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison."

Senate bill rejects Obama's JSC plans, Houston Chronicle

"Obama requested $6 billion over five years for advanced technologies. The Senate bill requests less than $1 billion over three years."

Our views: Compromise space bill offers promise, problems for KSC, Brevard, Florida Today

"But the bill's catch -- and one that concerns us -- is that it would phase in $6 billion in funding for the commercial rocket program and other research and development projects that could be staged at KSC instead of providing it up front. That has the potential to slow the creation of new jobs and industries -- and diversification of the space industry -- our region needs. For instance, NASA could spend only $456 million on commercial rocket contracts next year with more allocated in later years, providing the companies meet safety and other requirements for flying astronauts."

Note circulating in the Suborbital research community: "As you may know, Sen. Nelson's NASA authorization markup kills the CRuSR line item. Yesterday Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico introduced an amendment that would bolster this small but high-profile program, designed to allow students, small companies, and researchers to fly experiments on-board new commercial suborbital space vehicles such as Virgin Galactic or XCOR Aerospace. The amendment would ensure that this program, known as Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR), would be fully funded at $15 million per year and report directly to NASA's Chief Technology Office to give it high-profile status. Please call your Senators to support the Udall Amendment, call Sen. Nelson's office to support it, and ask colleagues to do the same. The Senate NASA authorizing bill full committee vote is tomorrow (Thu 15 Jul)-- please take time today on this important matter!"

Commercial Space in Jeopardy, Call Your Senator TODAY, Space Frontier Foundation

"I urge American citizens interested in the affordable utilization and eventual settlement of space to open their eyes to the attack on NASA's new Commercial Crew Program by pork-hungry legislators. Contrary to the White House's request, the NASA Authorization Bill proposes cutting commercial space by $2.1 billion (up to 66%). Virginia's Senator Warner is ready to ride to the rescue with an amendment restoring full funding to the program, but he needs YOUR help to gain support from other Senators."

Keith's note: Its really somewhat counterproductive for the Space Frontier Foundation to put out a legislative alert and then insult every possible member of Congress that they seek to have people contact to help their cause i.e. calling them "donkeys" and "elephants". Also, Instead of portraying this as a fight against pork (and indicting all of Congress in so doing) perhaps the proponents should be focusing on the virtues of commercialization instead.

NASA Needs Integrated Strategy to Control Mission Costs, NRC

"NASA should develop a broad, integrated strategy to contain costs and maintain schedules as earth and space science missions are planned and designed, says a new report by the National Research Council. The report also calls on NASA, Congress, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to consistently use the same method to quantify and track costs."

Keith's note: According to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation staffer Jeff Bingham posting as "51DMascot" at on 11 July:

"I assure you, the FY 2011 numbers will appear to be "underfunded" for Commercial crew, because activities in that year wiill be focused heavily on concept development, common technology development, human-rating requirements, review of procurement approaches and performance milestones and funding "gates' that must be accomplished with assurance before any authority to proceed o a procurement effort is initiated, and not before the end of FY 2011. But there will still be a stated commitment to the support and development of such capabilities--including requirements for a crew-rescue capability, meaning six-month on-orbital lifetime certification, etc. Those are the kinds of things that you might expect would constitute the closet thing to articulating the "walk before you run" approach for which there is large consensus in the Congress vis-a-vis commercial crew."

Is Utah emerging as rival to KSC?, Orlando Sentinel

"Frank DiBello, the president of Space Florida, the state's aerospace development body, is not pleased. "We don't want to sacrifice Florida seed corn for an increased R&D role to be politically expedient and save jobs for Utah and other states," DiBello told a Brevard County jobs-development meeting Saturday. "The Senate bill kills outright the promise of a real R&D opportunity for KSC. It's not good for Florida. I don't know who Bill Nelson is listening to, but it's not his constituents," DiBello said."

NASA budget fight - Is Utah emerging as rival to KSC?, Orlando Sentinel

"The Senate subcommittee charged with NASA oversight will present a $19 billion bill this week that kills President Barack Obama's proposed shakeup of the agency's human-spaceflight program, in the process cutting billions from commercial rocket and technology projects that supporters say would have benefited Kennedy Space Center. A draft of the bill, obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, was presented to NASA last week by the committee, chaired by Florida Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. So far the White House has not commented on the bill, but several Florida Space Coast leaders have expressed concern about its impact here."

Keith's note: Additional detail via NASA Watch sources: This authorization bill covers FY 2011-2013 - i.e. the period of time that the Obama Administration will have influence on budget plans. During FY 2011- 2013 President Obama had wanted to spend $3.3 Billion on commercial space. The draft legislation under consideration would now utterly gut the President's proposed commercial program to the point that its value as a "commercial" activity would be called into question.

In the proposed draft, commercial activities would now receive the following: $150M in FY 2011, $275M in FY 2012, and $464M in FY 2013 - for a total of $889M. That's barely a quarter of what the White House proposed. Moreover, NASA would also be precluded from entering into any commercial crew contracts in FY 2011. In addition, work on an advanced hydrocarbon engine would be halted. Also, all of the new technology that was to be funded gets eviscerated as well by as much as 50%.

At face value, this "compromise" would reverse the White House's plans and bring back a "lite" version of Constellation and fatally wound any attempt at a meaningful commercial participation in the future of American space exploration. This authorization bill will eventually find its way to the President's desk. Will he sign it? I don't think so. Add in a looming CR, and America's human spaceflight program is about to go into a year of stasis and confusion.

Senate Panel Near Agreement on Bill to Roll Back NASA Changes, NY Times

"The bill, which lays out the direction of the nation's space program for the next three years, would add at least one more space shuttle flight, speed development of a heavy-lift rocket and move ahead with building a spacecraft to venture beyond low-Earth orbit. It would also slow down a rush to invest in commercial rockets by requiring companies to demonstrate their capabilities before receiving large contracts for delivering astronauts to the International Space Station, said a staff member who was not authorized to speak for attribution."

Keith's note: Word has it that there is serious consideration being given in the Senate to making dramatic changes to President Obama's proposed FY 2011 budget and the way that it restructures NASA. A new NASA Authorization bill is scheduled to be marked up on Thursday by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee's Science and Space subcommittee.

Congress may not decide Constellation's fate until next year, Huntsville Times

"The Nelson authorization bill would also take a "walk before you run" approach to commercial space development. NASA would be required to complete "studies, assessments, and milestones" before commercial service to the space station starts. The Senate appropriations subcommittee that controls NASA spending hasn't met yet, and its ranking member is Shelby. "As the ranking member," he said Friday, "I will continue fighting to refocus NASA on its core mission of advancing the U.S. human space flight program and preserving our nation's capabilities, which this administration is actively trying to dismantle."

Human space flight worth saving: robots no sub for manned trips, opinion, Rep Aderholt, Huntsville Times

"I believe NASA's recent contract "descoping" actions - which forced prime contractors to cancel or reduce subcontracts - are a direct violation of a provision in the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. That bill did not give NASA permission to gut some projects and programs to fund others with Constellation and if it is found that NASA violated this provision, then NASA will be held responsible."

Laid-off NASA contractors plan strategy for re-employment, WAFF

"About one hundred people turned out for the kickoff meeting of the Huntsville Space Professionals at UA-Huntsville's Chan Auditorium Friday afternoon."

Huntsville Space Professionals helps laid-off NASA workers, Huntsvile Times

"HSP plans to hold a job fair next month and provides updated news from Washington about NASA-related decisions made by Congress. The group's website lists employment opportunities, which are not exclusive to those laid off. There was a political undertone to the meeting. Many who attended expressed frustration over cuts to the Constellation program. President Obama has proposed to kill the program. "Congress could revive Constellation next week if they had the mindset to do so," said Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, the GOP nominee for Alabama's Fifth Congressional District."

This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.

Spending Panel: Unclear Direction of Manned NASA Flights Adds to Uncertainty, Science

"So far, there doesn't appear to be any sign of compromise between the White House and opponents of the Administration's plan in Congress, who believe that canceling Constellation and investing in the development of commercial space flight to enable future space missions is a bad idea. As it is, it's unlikely that Congress will complete the budget-approval process--for NASA and most other agencies--before the congressional elections in November, which means that the budgets for most agencies will likely be determined by a continuing resolution."

House Appropriators Look to Authorizers for NASA Direction, Space News

"In the absence of authorization legislation, "this subcommittee has no business in appropriating even more funding for uncertain program outcomes," Mollohan said. "Accordingly, this bill makes the funding for human space exploration available only after the enactment of such authorization legislation."

Statement of Chairman Alan Mollohan Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee June 29, 2010

"For NASA, the bill provides a total of $19 billion, an increase of $276 million over last year's level, including significant and long needed new investments in science and education. For Human Space Exploration, the bill provides $4.2 billion, as requested and $498 million above 2010, but takes no position on the President's proposed new direction for the program."



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