Congress: January 2011 Archives

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Members Named

"Today the Democratic Caucus of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology met to elect Subcommittee Ranking Members and select Subcommittee assignments. The selections will be official after they are approved by the full Committee at the Organizational Meeting."

Rep. Hall Announces Republican Members of House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

"Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX), Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, today applauded the appointment of Republican members selected to serve on the Committee in the 112th Congress. Subcommittee chairmen and rosters will be disclosed at a future date."

Rep. Adams Announces Committee and Subcommittee Assignments

"Science, Space and Technology is the primary Committee in Congress that deals with NASA and space related issues. Home of the Kennedy Space Center, Florida's 24th District is one of the main NASA facilities in the country, and an economic driver for the region that helps create thousands of high paying jobs."

Rep. Jerry Costello to Serve on House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee

"U.S. Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL) today announced that he will serve as Acting Ranking Member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in the 112th Congress. Following today's election of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Costello was asked by the committee leadership to serve in her absence as she recovers."

For NASA, Longest Countdown Awaits, NY Times

"Two weeks ago, the agency told Congress that it had decided on preferred designs for the rocket and the crew capsule for carrying astronauts, but could yet not fit them into the schedule and constraints. "All our models say 'no,' " said Elizabeth Robinson, NASA's chief financial officer, "even models that have generous affordability considerations." She said NASA was continuing to explore how it might reduce costs. A couple of days after receiving the report, Senator Nelson said he had talked to the NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., and "told him he has to follow the law, which requires a new rocket by 2016." He added, "And NASA has to do it within the budget the law requires."

Constellation Celebration & Recognition Event at NASA LaRC

"All Constellation team members are invited to join Dale Thomas, our NASA Constellation Program Manager, Thursday, January 20th for a Constellation LaRC Celebration and Recognition Event in honor of the great accomplishments you've made to the program. It will be held in the Reid Center auditorium and starts at 8 am with breakfast (courtesy of the Constellation Program) followed by an All Hands and awards ceremony. A calendar invite will follow shortly."

Keith's note: Well, it would seem that Doug Cooke, Dale Thomas, ESMD, and CxP are putting that Congressionally-created money for the now-cancelled Constellation program to good use by buying breakfast for everyone on the team.

Anonymous senior SOMD reader note: "just read the comments on the article. What people are missing (and you understand) is perception. We used to have snacks, food, coffee, drinks outside all of our FRR's - this was not cheap. When we started laying people off, Gerst called an end to the practice. The message was: we are not going to spend scarce resources on cookies for upper management when we are laying teammembers off to save money. This provides insight into the difference between mission directorate leadership."

Letter from Sen. Nelson and Sen. Hutchison to NASA Administrator Bolden Regarding Space Launch System / Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle

"Finally, we would like to clarify our intent when stating "to the extent practicable" in the Authorization Act, such as the direction to leverage Shuttle and Constellation capabilities "to the extent practicable" in developing the Space Launch System and the multi-purpose crew vehicle. Federal courts have held that the phrase "to the maximum extent practicable" imposes "a clear duty on [an] agency to fulfill the [relevant] statutory command to the extent that it is feasible or possible*' (Fund for Animals v. Babbitt, 903 F. Supp. 96,107 (D.D.C. 1995) (noting that the phrase "does not permit an agency unbridled discretion") ..."

Gabrielle Giffords Earth and Space Leadership Fund: Support future leaders in Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering and Policy.

"To honor the victims of the recent tragedy in Tucson and their families, we have started a fund in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' name to support future leaders in earth and space sciences, engineering and policy. In her 112th Congress swearing-in speech, Gabby talked about the need for leadership. She also strongly supports earth and space sciences, as well as technology innovations and public policy that benefit our nation. Gabby is to administer the fund, which is intended to help develop America's leadership in these critical areas through a range of activities, sponsorships and support for students."

Analysis: NASA flails as forces pull on it from all directions, Orlando Sentinel

"Our civil space agency has decayed from Kennedy's and Reagan's visions of opening a new frontier to the point where it's just a jobs program in a death spiral of addiction and denial, with thousands of honest innovators trapped inside like flies in bureaucratic amber," said space-policy consultant James Muncy. ... In a letter to Congress last week, NASA all but threw up its hands -- telling lawmakers that it could not build the "heavy-lift" rocket and capsule Congress wants on the budget and schedule it demands."

NASA SMD Memo: Status of Planetary's Research and Analysis (R&A) Program

"In order to maintain our fiscal responsibilities this situation demands that the Planetary Science Division Program Officers not over commit our R&A funds too early in the year. Therefore we will under-select in each of our R&A calls and put many more on notice that they are in the "selectable" range until it is clear what our final budget is and we can meet our obligations. As a reminder, a Principal Investigator who receives a letter that states his or her proposal is in the selectable range could be funded when NASA identifies the funds, which in this case, must wait until a final budget for NASA has been determined. We will also continue to use the technique of "active grants management" that we used last fiscal year for both new and existing awards which will enable PSD to keep the amount of unobligated funding as low as possible as we enter FY12."

Keith's note: Gee, why isn't Ed Weiler sending out this memo to everyone who is funded by SMD? Is he singling out Planetary Science Division for special treatment (punishment)?

Click on Image to enlarge "Cost and Schedule of Shuttle sidemount compared with HEFT alternatives. This is the only HLV option that meets all legal requirements and fits within the budget and schedule assumptions of HEFT. Data derived from SSP Study NSTS 60583, dated June 8, 2010"

HEFT, Lies and Videotape, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"So as Oliver Hardy would say, here's another fine mess we've gotten ourselves into. NASA creates an unaffordable architecture (ESAS) to implement the VSE. The response by the new administration is to cancel the VSE and replace it with promises of more distant goals at some nebulous time in the far future. Congress directs the agency to build an HLV anyway, but the vehicle has no mission, so they pull out the specs of the last HLV America flew. NASA responds by saying they can't do it on the money and schedule specified, even though they themselves have in hand a report that shows how it can be done. Moreover, the agency still claims it doesn't know why anyone would want to go to the Moon, despite having been shown repeatedly that what we do there will create new space faring capability."

Keith's note: During its recent deliberations the HEFT II activity look at a variety of scenarios, reference missions etc. One of them, DM1, actually meets the costs and schedule specified by Congress. DM1 entails creation and use of an in-space propellant depot and refueling capability. It also makes use of EELVs and other commercial launch assets. But forces within NASA ESMD personnel - led by Doug Cooke - have purposefully sat on such ideas and have made certain that they were scrubbed from presentation charts and reports to Congress and other "stakeholders". Charlie Bolden is aware of this tactic.

Chairman Hall Assures Close Oversight og NASA Human Space Flight Program

"The report recently provided to Congress by NASA on its heavy lift development is only the beginning of a long conversation Congress will have with the Agency regarding the future of the human space flight program. It was this Administration that killed the Constellation program, which Congress had repeatedly endorsed. Instead of providing the resources that the Augustine Committee said were necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation, this Administration simply said it was unaffordable, choosing instead to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on other priorities."

NASA OIG Letter Regarding Constellation Program and 2010 NASA Authorization Act

"The Inspector General Act of 1978 directs Federal Inspectors General to, among other things, "review existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to programs and operations" of their agencies and to make recommendations "concerning the impact of such legislation or regulations on the economy and efficiency in the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment." In addition, Inspectors General are required to keep their agency head and Congress informed about "serious problems, abuses. and deficiencies relating to the administration of programs and operations administered or financed by such establishment, [and] to recommend corrective action concerning such problems."

Keith's note: Any typos are a result of the poor quality of the original letter - parts of which are illegible - released to the media by the NASA OIG - in clear violation of Section 508 requirements, by the way.

NASA inspector general urges Congress to stop wasting money on Constellation rocket program, Huntsville Times

"Constraining NASA's ability to stop spending money on aspects of a rocket program that the administration and Congress have both agreed to cancel while at the same time prohibiting the agency from beginning the follow-on program called for in the 2010 Authorization Act strikes us as a problem ripe for correction," Martin said in the letter to the Senate NASA oversight committee dated Thursday. "Accordingly, we urge Congress to take immediate action," Martin said, "that will enable NASA to reduce or cease funding aspects of the Constellation Program in order to more efficiently redirect these funds to the priorities outlined in the Authorization Act."

Preliminary Report Regarding NASA's Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Pursuant to Section 309 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267)

"To date, trade studies performed by the Agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures that would both meet all SLS requirements and these goals. For example, a 2016 first flight of the SLS does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out year funding levels. ... However, to be clear, neither Reference Vehicle Design currently fits the projected budget profiles nor the schedule goals outlined in the Authorization Act. .... none of the design options studied thus far appeared to be affordable in our present fiscal conditions, based upon existing cost models, historical data, and traditional acquisition approaches. ..."

Senate Commerce Committee Members Respond to NASA Report

"We appreciate NASA's report and look forward to the additional material that was required but not submitted. In the meantime, the production of a heavy-lift rocket and capsule is not optional. It's the law. NASA must use its decades of space know-how and billions of dollars in previous investments to come up with a concept that works. We believe it can be done affordably and efficiently - and, it must be a priority."

Exploration Program Status Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council, Doug Cooke

* Key Auth Act Direction

- The Administrator shall, to the extent practicable, extend or modify existing vehicle development and associated contracts
- The initial capability of the core elements, without an upper stage, of lifting payloads weighing between 70 tons and 100 tons into low-Earth orbit
- The capability to lift the multipurpose crew vehicle
- The capability to serve as a backup system for supplying and supporting ISS cargo requirements or crew delivery requirements not otherwise met by available commercial or partner-supplied vehicles

* SLS Reference Vehicle Design

- 27.5' Diameter LOX/LH2 Core Stage
- Five RS25 based engines using Shuttle assets then RS25E expendable derivative
- Two 5-Segment Ares derived SRBs
- Delivers 108.6t to 30x130 nmi

* Evolved System to 130mT

- Upper stage with one or two J-2X upper stage engines (trades pending)
- Draft FY11 CR language dictates concurrent development of upper stage with core vehicle

Human Space Exploration Framework Summary Presentation to the NASA Advisory Council

Strategy: 1-Fixed Initial Conditions: Mission to a NEA when Affordable

Description: A fixed cost and initial milestone-constrained assessment, consistent with the NASA 2010 Authorization for the DRM 4B (NEA mission) only. Manifest changed to incorporate HLLV test flight. Utilized updated design & cost estimates, that include some lean development options

Simple Result Description: Over-constrained. Does not meet all schedule, budget, and performance requirements. Results heavily dependent upon budget availability and phasing.

Space Adventures Concludes Agreement to Offer Commercial Spaceflight Opportunities to the International Space Station

"Space Adventures, the only company that has provided human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, announced today the conclusion of an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) and Rocket Space Corporation Energia (RSC Energia) to commercially offer three seats on the Soyuz spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS), beginning in 2013. These seats will be made available through the increase of Soyuz production, from four to five spacecraft per year. Each flight will be short duration, approximately 10 days, and will contribute to the increase of launch capacity to the ISS."

NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress, Space News

"NASA told U.S. lawmakers Jan. 10 it intends to build a heavy-lift rocket that incorporates the space shuttle's main engines, giant external tank and taller versions of the solid-rocket boosters it jettisons on the way to orbit, according to a senior NASA official. However, neither the rocket nor the crew vehicle it would launch could be completed within the cost and schedule Congress outlined for the project late last year. Congress directed NASA last fall to get started this year on a multipurpose crew exploration vehicle and a heavy-lift rocket initially capable of hauling 70-100 metric tons of payload to orbit."

Keith's note: Hilarious - and typical. NASA is incapable of thinking outside of the box or letting go of old things. Nor can they stay within Congressional budget or schedule limitations. SpaceX has already outlined a way that they could do this for vastly less money - and most likely sooner.

But wait, there's more:

"Cooke said NASA expects to deliver a final report to Congress in the spring pending the results of a slew of heavy-lift launch vehicle study contracts awarded to 13 U.S. companies in November that are expected to yield a gamut of launch vehicle design proposals."

So NASA is telling Congress that it already has a HLV design that it wants to build - but that it cannot afford to build it or do so as Congress has asked. Yet NASA tells Congress anyway. Yet NASA is funding additional HLV studies? Why? It has already told Congress what its HLV is going to look like. Why waste money on these studies if you already have the answer? Shouldn't NASA do trade studies BEFORE picking a design - not after? This is starting to smell like Mike Griffin's ESAS all over again - and the same guy is running the show once again.

Human Exploration Framework Team Presentation Online, earlier post

Senator: NASA May Have To Consider Having Only 2 Launches

"NASA is getting a stern reality check from one of its biggest supporters. Senator Bill Nelson admitted Monday there may only be two more shuttle missions instead of three. WFTV learned NASA will announce another delay for Discovery on Tuesday and, Nelson says, if engineers can't fix Discovery's external tank they must cancel the Atlantis mission and use that tank, because they aren't making tanks anymore. The plant that makes the tanks in Louisiana has already been shut down, so NASA is really faced with two options: fly with a tank that has had more repair work done than any other tank or scrap an entire shuttle mission."

Comment by Wayne Hale (actual rocket scientist) on an earlier post

"Let me review the situation: until root cause is understood, all the remaining tanks are suspect; going to the next tank in line would likely have the same condition. Understanding the cause and fixing all the remaining tanks is required. Second, this is hardly a hurry up launch fever situation. The shuttle team is methodically working through the problem. They have delayed the launch from early November repeatedly because the solution is not in hand. They are exercising very good judgment and not rushing. Working through difficult engineering problems can be painful to watch, but my observation is that they are doing what is prudent and proper."

AIP FYI Number 1: January 6, 2011 Of Note: Selected Quotations from FYI in 2010

"I will never be able to save all the jobs." - NASA Administrator Charles Bolden when commenting on NASA's human space flight proposal

"We were living a hallucination . . . I don't think we would have ever gotten there." - Administrator Bolden when commenting on NASA previous budgets

"We will find a solution to this problem." - NASA Administrator Bolden on the differences between the Administration and Congress over the agency's human space flight proposal

"In short, yes." - OSTP Director John Holdren when asked if the U.S. will return to the Moon and send humans to Mars

"When it comes to the space program, we are a bipartisan group." - Senate Commerce, Justice Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

"Frankly, I think NASA has been starved during several Administrations." - Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)

Relaunch the U.S. space program, opinion, Rep. Ruppersberger, Baltimore Sun

"The president announced plans to cancel Constellation, the plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. This move jeopardizes an $11.5 billion investment, puts thousands of skilled scientists out of work, and shakes the very heart of the space industrial base."

Keith's note: Rep. Ruppersberger hasn't really been paying attention to recent events. SpaceX Launched a Dragon test vehicle on a Falcon 9 years ahead of any schedule NASA ever imagined for Orion and Ares 1 and did so for a fraction of what NASA spent on Constellation. For that $11.5 billion "investment" in Constellation, NASA produced nothing like Falcon/Dragon that ever came remotely close to flying. NASA "jeopardized" its "investment" all by itself. The White House simply sought to stop throwing good money after bad by cancelling Constellation.

Ruppersberger goes on to lament the fact that commercial crew transport services are being sent to Russia yet seems to be clueless that NASA is going out of its way to levy crew transport requirements on American companies that would hinder their ability to provide the same services that NASA throws at Russia. Russia is not - and will not - be called upon to adhere to these same requirements.

US science faces big chill, Nature

"Keith Cowing, editor of NASAWatch.com, says it is hard to see how NASA can finance the shuttle flight while juggling everything else. "It's like trying to take a large truck and do a sudden left turn," he says."

- Keep This In Mind When Ralph Hall Talks About Education and Competitiveness Priorities, earlier post
- Congress Still Funds a Cancelled Rocket, earlier post
- NASA Presses Ahead With STS-135 Preparations Despite Budget Uncertainty, earlier post

Prepared Statement by Michael Griffin 8 May 2003 (part 2)

"The base reliability of unmanned expendable vehicles seems to arouse concerns where that of the manned Shuttle system inexplicably does not. Many, if not most, unmanned payloads are of very high value, both for the importance of their mission, as well as in simple economic terms. The relevant question may be posed quite simplistically: What, precisely, are the precautions that we would take to safeguard a human crew that we would deliberately omit when launching, say, a billion-dollar Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission? The answer is, of course, "none". While we appropriately value human life very highly, the investment we make in most unmanned missions is quite sufficient to capture our full attention."

Testimony of Dr. Michael Griffin before the House Committee on Science, 27 October 1999

"We envision this Space Taxi to be industry owned and operated; however, the cost of development, production, and operation of the Space Taxi System would be paid for predominantly out of government funds because it satisfies unique NASA needs that are not currently aligned with those of commercial industry. The launching of this Space Taxi System, however, could be competed among commercial RLV or EELV suppliers that meet the cost and safety requirements. These future RLVs would be commercially developed with private capital and would be commercially owned and operated. Their development will be enabled by NASA's current and planned future investments in RLV technologies and could be enhanced by government-backed financial incentives, such as tax credits, loan guarantees or advanced purchase agreements. Once a truly commercial Space Station becomes operational or the current Space Station becomes sufficiently commercialized, NASA and industry launch needs will be in almost complete alignment, and a completely commercial Space Taxi may become a viable business opportunity. We strongly believe that industry ownership of the Space Taxi from initial operation is critical to enable the eventual development of such a commercial Space Station."

US science funding boost faces uncertain future, Wired via Ars Technica

"During its crafting in Congressional committee last spring, America COMPETES received bipartisan support. It was held up, however, by Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX), formerly the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Hall's objections failed to stop the Act, but he is now the science committee's incoming chair."

GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn, TPM (May 2010)

"In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions. In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who've been disciplined for viewing pornography at work."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from January 2011.

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