Congress: June 2011 Archives

Letter from NASA Administrator Bolden to Sen. Rockefeller Regarding Congressional Document Request

Letter from NASA Administrator Bolden to Sen. Hutchison Regarding Congressional Document Request

"This is in response to your letter of June 22, 2011, signed jointly with Chairman Rockefeller, regarding the Committee's request for various documents and records concerning NASA's implementation of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 and asserting that NASA has refused to provide the documents. NASA's initial response of June 3 included three documents that the Committee specifically identified, a list of all contracts modified since passage of the Authorization Act, several hundred pages of contract documents, and lists of NASA officials as requested. As your previous letter also requests, NASA is continuing its preexisting bimonthly briefings to your staff (most recently on June 17) and my staff is in regular phone contact with your staff concerning our ongoing search for and review of documents and e-mails related to sections 302, 303 and 304 of the Act. I want to make clear that we are still gathering and reviewing documents responsive to your request and, to the extent NASA has confidentiality interests in the requested information, are working with Committee staff to accommodate the Committee's interests. We have not intended to convey a refusal to provide information to the Committee, and instead seek to continue to work to fulfill your requests consistent with our obligations."

According to a statement issued by NASA PAO last week: "NASA has been working aggressively to implement the Authorization Act approved late last year and funded just this spring. We have selected the crew capsule for deep space exploration, awarded nearly $270 million dollars in funding to American companies hoping to transport our astronauts and their cargo to the International Space Station and announced a ground-breaking precursor mission to an asteroid, which could eventually lead to a human exploration. In addition, the agency has launched important scientific missions, pushed forward with our aeronautics research and continued to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. The agency is working to respond to the Senate Commerce Committee request and compiling the records requested."

Letter from Sens. Rockefeller and Hutchison Regarding Earlier NASA Document Request

"Over the past few weeks, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has repeatedly refused to provide documents the Senate Commerce Committee needs to conduct appropriate oversight of your agency. We are writing to inform you that if you do not provide these documents to us by 6:00 p.m. on Monday, June 27, 2011, Chairman Rockefeller will issue a subpoena requiring the production of these documents."

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Letter Regarding NASA Authorization Act of 2010 Compliance, earlier Post

"The 2010 Act requires NASA to provide a number of reports on implementing the policy changes; however, despite several reports, dozens of briefings, and two Commerce Committee hearings since the Act's passage, NASA's progress in implementing the policy changes remains unclear. We are now requesting the information and documents listed below to determine what steps NASA is taking to comply with the law. ... Please provide the requested information and documents by June 3, 2011."

Senators Bill Nelson & Kay Bailey Hutchison: Blueprint shows way to next space frontier, OpEd, Orlando Sentinel

"While NASA and America's space program are in a time of transition, one thing that most people can agree on is the need to press forward with human space exploration. Our country's commitment to exploring space is a key in keeping the United States at the forefront globally of science and technology. Space exploration and a deeper understanding of how we can best utilize the great unknown is also vital to our national-security interests."

An Open Letter to Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, and James Lovell, Dennis Wingo, SpaceRef

"Recently, a joint letter was penned by three legendary Apollo lunar astronauts berating the Obama Administration for "Grounding JFK's Space Legacy" and declaring that a coherent plan for maintaining America's leadership in space exploration is no longer apparent. While it may be that the current administration's plans are not perfect - and a new national debate on space appropriate - these plans stand head and shoulders over the plan that was the latter implementation of the Constellation program. Furthermore, these space veterans have been misinformed pertaining to the reasons for the demise and cancellation of the Constellation program."

NASA's uncertain future: New rocket design in works, but its mission is unclear, Orlando Sentinel

"I don't think we need it. I don't think we can afford to operate it. I think it will be rarely used and expensive to maintain," said Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator. "The most likely possibility is that it [the rocket] is unfortunately going to collapse under its own weight in a couple years." Already, NASA has told Congress that it can't build the rocket and its companion crew capsule by the 2017 deadline with the money -- at least $14 billion over the next five years -- it has been given. More seriously, NASA hasn't decided where it wants the rocket and capsule to go. Agency officials talk constantly about the ultimate goal -- Mars -- but that trip is likely decades away. Few are talking about what to do in the meantime."

Letter to Charles Bolden from Senators Feinstein and Boxer Re: Sole Source for the Space Launch System

"In this time of constrained budgets, it would be inexcusible to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars into a non-competitive sole-source contract for the new Space Launch System. By allowing a competitive process, NASA could realize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings, and billions in savings over the life of the program. Furthermore, a competitive process will build capacity and enhance the critical skills and capabilities at a wide range of aesrospace technology companies."

Keith's 3 June update: When I asked ESMD AA Doug Cooke about this issue at a Women in Aerospace conference today he said that NASA "had not excluded" the option of a full and open competition for the SLS. That is not a "yes" - but it is not a "no" either.

Heavy Lift Rocket Standoff on Capitol Hill, earlier post



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

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