Congress: March 2011 Archives

Subcommittee Democrats Urge Clarity and Realism in NASA's Exploration Plans

"NASA's Douglas Cooke said that NASA understands the direction provided by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and is honoring those requirements. And while the agency has not yet finalized its development plans for the Space Launch System and Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, Mr. Cooke told the Subcommittee that NASA "is working expeditiously to ensure it has a credible and integrated plan with which to move forward." He also said that NASA recognizes that Congress wanted more information than the agency was able to provide in a January 2011 interim report and identified late June as the timeframe the agency is targeting for providing Congress with a final report."

Posey Testimony to Budget Committee: Preserve Human Space Flight and Give NASA Clear Direction

"The President abandoned the Constellation program in his budget, calling for it to be cancelled with no solid alternative or plan for the future. By so doing, he set our human space flight program dangerously adrift with vague milestones for the world's premiere space exploration organization. "Last year, Congress and the Administration agreed on an Authorization Bill that focused on developing goals after the Space Shuttle's retirement. This included plans for a new heavy lift capacity while giving limited support to commercial operations. "Unfortunately, the President's proposed budget is a substantial departure from the Authorization Bill that he signed into law in October--cutting $2 billion from the heavy lift program while increasing taxpayer subsidies for the low earth orbit commercial space companies."

Heavy Lift Rocket Standoff on Capitol Hill, SpaceRef

"There is a cottage industry these days - inside and outside of NASA - wherein people speculate what Heavy Launch Vehicle (HLV) design NASA is or is not pursuing. Everyone has Powerpoint charts, meeting notes, etc. but no one has all the facts. Nor are they likely to for months. The leaks have become a blur. NASA has not made its mind up yet and is not due to report back to Congress until June 2011 according to senior agency sources. That lack of clarity was evident in a presentation made by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at a Space Transportation Association (STA) lunch briefing in Washington, DC on 25 March 2011."

Bolden Wants to Build Evolvable HLLV, Not the One Congress Wants, Space Policy Online

"In response to a question from NASAWatch editor Keith Cowing, Mr. Bolden explained that he does not think that the 130 metric ton lift capability prescribed in the law is necessary today and is not sure the agency can do it. He wants to build an "evolvable" launch vehicle, working in "small incremental steps [to] demonstrate that we can keep to cost and schedule and then people will begin to have confidence that we know what we're talking about.... There are things I do not know. ... I don't know what my 2011 budget is ... and that plays a critical role in what I can do."

Bolden and "evolvable" heavy-lift launch vehicles, Space Politics

"However, it wasn't clear from Bolden's comments whether what emerged from those studies would meet the act's requirements for payload capacity and schedule. Asked why the agency could't just announce that it would develop the vehicle in the act, Bolden said, "Because I don't want to, for one thing, and because it may be that we can't do that. We don't know." (It's unclear whether Bolden meant that he doesn't want to build the SLS as specified in the act, or instead meant that he doesn't want to say now that NASA will build such a vehicle; he later claimed he meant neither of those things.)"

Funding Uncertainty Shaping NASA Programs, Aviation Week

"NASA already has run into trouble in the Senate over its plans for the heavy-lift launch vehicle Congress ordered in the three-year NASA authorization bill it passed and President Barack Obama signed late last year. Senators who helped draft that compromise between the Capitol and the White House are upset that the new budget request for fiscal 2012 doesn't move fast enough toward flying a big new rocket capable of sending humans beyond low Earth orbit."

Our views: Riding with Russia, opinion, Florida Today

"That's not to say the Russians aren't exploiting their upcoming ridership monopoly by jacking up the price. They are, and the U.S. will have to live with it until it can field a new rocket and spacecraft. The fastest way to do that and end the dependence is for Congress to stop its endless fighting and reach a sensible compromise on a federal spending and deficit reduction plan that has Republicans and Democrats locked in trench warfare. ... Members of Congress can complain all they want about the Russians, and attack the White House, but they are the ones holding the next generation of spaceflight hostage. They should end their posturing and act."

NASA still ordered to waste $1.4 million a day, Chicago Tribune

"Congress has again failed to rid a temporary spending bill of language forcing NASA to waste $1.4 million a day on its defunct Constellation moon program. This so-called "Shelby provision" -- named for U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who inserted it into the 2010 budget -- is expected to cost NASA roughly $29 million during the three-week budget extension through April 8. It has already cost the agency nearly $250 million since Oct. 1."

GOP Lawmakers Appeal for Manned Exploration Funds Space News

"To be clear, we believe that NASA's budget can be reduced," the lawmakers wrote, urging Ryan to take aim at climate-monitoring programs poised for a funding boost over the next five years under the $18.72 billion budget blueprint U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled Feb. 14. "Within the NASA budget specifically, we believe there is an opportunity to cut funding within the Earth Science account where an overabundance of climate change research is being conducted."

NASA commitment to Senate wishes questioned, Space.com/MSNBC

"Nelson had no luck getting NASA officials to pin down the date by which the agency could begin testing Orion atop the core elements of the congressionally mandated rocket. "I want to know how soon you can get testing the initial heavy-lift capability with the proposed funding levels," Nelson told Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems. Cooke demurred, citing ongoing studies, but said the agency "is trying to get test flights as early as 2016," the year the law says the initial capability must be operational. Cooke also said the president's latest budget request, which increases spending for commercial crew transportation and space technology research, reflects the administration's agenda."

Statement of NASA Administrator Bolden: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"At its core, NASA's mission remains fundamentally the same as it always has been and supports our new vision: "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind." This statement is from the new multi-year 2011 NASA Strategic Plan accompanying the FY 2012 budget request, which all of NASA's Mission Directorates, Mission Support Offices and Centers helped to develop, and encapsulates in broad terms the very reason for NASA's existence and everything that the American public expects from its space program."

- Budget and Program Description Enclosures

Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on Realizing NASA's Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century

"The space station itself recently passed a milestone of its own. Last November marked 10 years of a continuous human presence on the space station. Much of that time has been devoted to construction, but the astronauts on board still found time to conduct more than 1,200 experiments that supported the research of more than 1,600 scientists worldwide."

Key Quotes from Today's Hearing on Realizing NASA's Potential: Programmatic Challenges in the 21st Century

"Unless we get a pretty dramatic budget cut, we plan to go execute that mission. We see that mission as extremely critical to us. What that mission provides for us is it gives some margin that if commercial providers are a little bit late and they don't fly in late 2011 and 2012 as they have been planning, then we've got some time through 2012 that we'll have enough supplies pre-positioned on the Space Station that we can continue to do quality research and we can continue to keep our crew size at six aboard the Station through that period until 2013. If we don't have that shuttle flight then it is absolutely mandatory that the commercial cargo providers come online this year and early into 2012. I don't think that's a prudent strategy. We need some margin." Mr. William Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA in response for comment on whether the STS-135 will fly this year and the benefits of the mission

Hutchison Pushes NASA Leadership on Implementation of Law

"It is important to remember [the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010] is a law, not just an advisory framework. Compliance is not something we should have to hope for, it is something that we expect and is required. At the same time, the president's budget request proposes a significant increase to the very same areas prioritized by the Administration's last request, which Congress rejected," said Sen. Hutchison."

Appropriations Committee Introduces Three Week Continuing Resolution - Bill will Prevent Government Shutdown, Cut $6 Billion in Spending

"House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers today introduced a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government at current rates for three weeks -until April 8 - while cutting $6 billion in spending. The legislation (H.J. Res 48) is the second short-term funding extension to prevent a government shutdown while Congressional negotiations continue on a long-term plan to keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year. ... - $63 million - NASA - Cross Agency Support".

Senat Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Summary of Year-Long CR Provisions

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration

- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funded at $18.5 billion, a reduction of $461 million from the FY 2011 request. This is $412 million more than the House level.

- Preserves NASA portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments, holding NASA's feet to the fire to build the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle and the heavy lift Space Launch System.

- Does not provide for requested, but new, long-range space technology research activities."

Lawmakers Question Choices in NASA Budget Request, Space News

"But despite the bleak fiscal forecast, Wolf and other House lawmakers questioned NASA's decision to request less funding than recommended in the authorization bill for the new heavy-lift launch vehicle and space capsule that the law says should be operational by 2016. "Your request has certainly sacrificed progress on the development of the Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle," Wolf said, referring to the $2.8 billion NASA requested for the efforts next year, $1.2 billion less than the roughly $4 billion authorized in the law. "The levels provided in your budget for these activities virtually guarantee that NASA won't have core launch and crew capabilities in place by 2016."

Lawmakers questions NASA's budget proposal, The Hill

"[Rep. Ralph] Hall was joined in his criticism by ranking member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who said she was disappointed by the president's budget request. "I had thought that the Administration agreed with the compromise that was enacted into law, but I am afraid that I do not see it reflected in the proposed NASA budget request," Johnson said, telling Bolden he needs to work with lawmakers, "not simply tell us what you can't do." "The most constructive approach for all of us here is to consider the budget request that you will present today as the beginning of the discussion, not the end."

NASA chief defends space budget in Congress, Space.com

"Bolden argued that the 2012 budget request does follow the guidance of the bill. "I get your message loud and clear and so does the president," Bolden said. "I think the budget does, in fact. reflect following your guidance."

Hearing Charter

Opening Statement By Rep. Hall, Hearing on NASA FY 2012 Budget Request

"I am concerned that the future of our space program is in serious jeopardy. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle, NASA faces a critical period and needs to focus its limited resources to sustain our leadership in space."

Opening Statement By Charles Bolden, Hearing on NASA FY 2012 Budget Request

"Because these are tough fiscal times, tough choices had to be made. But the proposed FY 2012 budget funds all major elements of the Authorization Act, supporting a diverse portfolio of programs, while making difficult choices to fund key priorities and reduce other areas in order to invest in the future."

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats Caution Against Start-Stop Approach to NASA's Funding and Goals

"While expressing strong support for the President and admiration for Mr. Bolden's leadership, Congresswoman Johnson said that she was disappointed with the request, especially in light of all the work that Congress undertook last year to forge a constructive path forward for the nation's space program."

Letter from Space Leaders to Congress Urging Support of NASA's Use of Commercial Crew Services to the ISS

"Dear Members of Congress: We, the undersigned space leaders--over 50 of us, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to fully fund NASA's plan to use commercial companies to carry crew to the Space Station because it is critical to the health of the Nation's human spaceflight efforts.

Among us are former NASA executives and advisors, former astronauts, CEOs and directors of firms large and small, space scientists, space journalists, and others. We include 14 former NASA astronauts, 5 former NASA senior executives, 13 educators and nonprofit leaders, and 24 space industry leaders from a wide variety of firms and institutions, both large and small.

We are a diverse group, but we are only a tiny fraction of the Nation's citizens who support U.S. leadership in human space flight and the development of competitive commercial human spaceflight."

NASA Continues Implementation Of 2010 Authorization Act Program Offices, New Technology Solicitations Announced

"NASA has announced program office assignments at three NASA field centers to align the president's fiscal year 2012 budget request and the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. The agency also has released three Space Technology Program solicitations. NASA will create new program offices to manage human spaceflight activities associated with the development of the Space Launch System, the heavy-lift rocket that will carry humans beyond low Earth orbit; the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the next human exploration spacecraft; and commercial spaceflight vehicles."


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