Congress: July 2011 Archives

Keith's 11:00 am EDT note: Sources are reporting that the Senate Commerce Committee has finally made good on its threat and has issued a subpoena to NASA regarding materials related to the SLS decision. Prior to this several letters and a hearing were held to prompt NASA in this regard. No luck. Congress is more or less convinced that the decision regarding SLS design/architecture has already been made and they are using the tools at their disposal to force NASA/the White House to admit that this is indeed the case. Stay tuned.

NASA Has Not Delivered All Of The Documents Requested by Congress, earlier post

Senate Threatens NASA With Subpoena For Missing Documents, earlier post

Keith's 1:00 pm EDT note: According to NASA PAO "While we share the Senators' commitment to human space exploration and implementation of the Authorization Act, we also have a commitment to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. The Space Launch System is the most important -- and expensive -- decision NASA will make for the next decade, and we want to get it right so we don't repeat the mistakes of the past or get pushed into making a premature decision about our nation's deep space exploration plans."

NASA at a turning point, opinion, Walt Cunninghman and Pete Olson, Politico

"However, last year President Barack Obama shifted NASA policy away from human spaceflight. His budget cancelled the next-generation Constellation human flight system rather than modifying any deficiencies -- wasting a $9 billion taxpayer investment. Instead, NASA was directed to pursue a riskier course, diverting billions of dollars to a group of companies - most devoid of experience in manned space vehicles - to take over operations to low-earth orbit and the transport of astronauts to the International Space Station. The goal was to generate a private marketplace to support the cost of these manned missions."

Rep. Olson Statement on Final Shuttle Landing

"This chapter is by no means the end of human space flight; it is the beginning of the next generation of scientists, engineers and unforeseen discoveries. I am dedicated to ensuring that Congress gives NASA the goal and resources to usher in the next generation of human space flight."

Keith's note: Hmm, let's see, extended life for the human-occupied ISS, spurring development of multiple spacecraft (government and commercial) to carry humans into orbit, and plans for human missions to an asteroid and to Mars. If anything, the policy in place looks to expand the reach of humans beyond low Earth orbit. But the authors are not interested in facts - rather, they are interested only in partisan rhetoric. Indeed, Olson is not even consistent. In his official post-shuttle landing statement he says that this is "by no means the end of human space flight" and that exciting things lie ahead. A day later, in Politico, he (and Cunningham) put forth a contradictory claim that the Obama Adminstration has "shifted NASA policy away from human spaceflight."

American Astronautical Society Statement on Space Program Cutbacks

"The number one long-term issue facing our country's leaders is economic growth, including job creation, GDP growth and increasing the balance of trade. Without a growing economy that creates new high wage jobs, our future is grim. For the private sector to help steward this growth, it needs sustainable, reliable federal budgets and investments by the government in technology innovation across the board, including aerospace. We applaud the House Appropriations Committee for the pace at which it is moving forward with the appropriations bills to fund the fiscal year that begins on October 1. We understand the need to reduce the deficit. But we must not jeopardize our future by dramatic cuts to the central core of our nation's economic development - investments in science and technology, particularly those associated with the space program."

AIP Number 90: FY 2012 House Funding Bill: NASA

"There are 14 pages of text pertaining to NASA in the committee report accompanying the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill that was passed by the House on July 13. In often great detail House appropriators spell out their recommendations for how the $16,810,257,000 provided to NASA should be spent in FY 2012. Selections from this language, which starts on page 68 of the committee report follow. All figures are taken from the committee report."

Schiff Amendment to Provide FY 2012 Funding for James Webb Space Telescope Rejected

"The full House Appropriations Committee had been meeting for almost 3 1/2 hours yesterday when Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) rose to offer an amendment to provide $200 million for the James Webb Space Telescope in the FY 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. A vote was pending on the House floor, and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) was ready to take a final vote to pass the bill. After brief comments by Schiff and Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) a voice vote was called, and the amendment was rejected. Schiff's amendment would have moved $200 million from NASA's Cross Agency Support budget, for which the bill allocated approximately $3 billion. This amendment was one of several that sought to transfer money from this budget category to other programs. All were rejected."

Senator Hutchison Calls for Immediate Action on Space Launch System

"No one questions the need to ensure the best understanding of program costs. We do that every year on an ongoing basis with every major NASA program, as we set spending levels in our annual budget. There is simply no need to defer announcing the vehicle design decision while awaiting yet another cost review. "To do so only increases the real human cost that NASA employees and contractors are experiencing in the face of continued uncertainty about the future. Without a decision we will continue to lose skilled workers that we need to build the shuttle replacements. Besides the toll this will take on workers and their families, who have contributed so much to science, our national security, and the economy, it will be difficult and more costly to replace this invaluable human capital. "We have the information to make a decision now, and I call on the Administration and OMB to immediately make public and approve NASA's technical design decision on the heavy lift vehicle."

Report: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2012

"The NASA budget structure has changed far too many times over the last several years. Regularly creating new accounts and shifting programs among accounts complicate efforts to make multiyear funding comparisons and obscure long-term funding trends. The bill adopts NASA's proposal to create a new account for Space Technology because this is the completion of a realignment that has been underway for some time. The Committee expects this to be the last such structural change for the foreseeable future."

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Hearing: A Review of NASA's Space Launch SystemHearing Charter

"The original intent of the hearing was to examine NASA's selection of a heavy-lift launch system ("Space Launch System") that will be used to launch future crew and cargo flights beyond low Earth orbit. Members would have had an opportunity to ask questions regarding cost, schedule, capabilities, and justification for the selected design. However, on July 7, a senior NASA official publicly stated that a final decision on SLS won't be announced until "late this summer." In light of NASA's continuing delays (the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 required a decision and report by mid-January 2011), the hearing will instead provide an opportunity for NASA to explain why it has failed to reach a decision, what analyses still need to be completed, and when the Space Launch System decisions will be forthcoming."

Keith's note: Rep. Hall opended the hearing by telling Bolden that not getting SLS documentation the committee had requested from NASA "is almost an insult to this committee and to Congress". Rep. Johnson said that Bolden can "expect to be on the receiving end of some frustration from members - including me."

Opening Statement: Rep. Ralph Hall Chairman Committee on Science, Space, and Technology A Review of NASA's Space Launch System

"As a preface to the formal portion of my statement, I want to first congratulate all the men and women at NASA and its contractors for the successful launch of STS-135. The Shuttle launch was viewed by tens of thousands on hand in Florida and millions more around the world, including a packed crowd in this hearing room, and it was a bittersweet moment to watch the last flight of the Shuttle Atlantis lift off from Kennedy Space Center."

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) Hearing on "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System" Opening Statement

"Administrator Bolden, as you know, you have been called to testify on NASA's plans to develop the vehicles that will enable future human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit--vehicles that have been authorized and funded by Congress. However, as you also know--and will testify today--you still don't have an approved plan to share with us. As a result, I expect that you will be on the receiving end of a lot of unhappiness and irritation expressed by many Members here today. That's unfortunate, because the fault doesn't lie with you. It's my understanding that you have had a plan ready to announce for some time, but you haven't been able to get the final okay to make it public."

Science Democrats Urge Administration to Let NASA Get On With Developing The Nation's Future Human Space Exploration Vehicles

"Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing entitled, "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System." The purpose of the hearing was for the NASA Administrator to explain why the agency has failed to reach a decision on the architecture for the Space Launch System, what analyses still need to be completed, and when final acquisition decisions will be made."

Rocket decision still weeks away, NASA chief says, Orlando Sentinel

"NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told Congress on Tuesday that it could be weeks -- or longer -- before the agency unveils the design for its next big rocket, a timeline that prompted lawmakers to threaten an investigation into the delay. "We have waited for answers that have not come. We have pleaded for answers that have not come," said U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, the Texas Republican who chairs the House science committee. "We have run out of patience."

Congress Grills NASA Chief Over Next Big Rocket Design, space.com

"NASA maintained at various times that a decision was coming in the spring, then in June, then in early July. NASA associate administrator Lori Garver said last week the agency hopes to make an announcement by late summer."

On NASA and Houston: Sheila Jackson Lee succeeds where I have failed, Houston Chronicle

"I have requested an interview with Charlie Bolden, NASA's administrator, at least half a dozen times since Feb. 2010, the last time I had the opportunity to speak with him. Fact is, Bolden is been all but inaccessible to the media since an initial around of interviews after President Obama released his plan for human spaceflight in early 2010. His predecessors frequently attended pre- and post-launch shuttle news conferences. Bolden rarely if ever does. It's weird. It's not like he's not in Florida for the launches. He is. Anyway, to her credit, Sheila Jackson Lee got a few Houston-related questions in during a House science committee hearing on NASA's Space Launch System. She takes a lot of grief for being too interested in getting in front of cameras, but in this case I'm glad she did."

American Astronomical Society Statement on the James Webb Space Telescope

"The proposal released on July 6 by the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to terminate the James Webb Space Telescope would waste more taxpayer dollars than it saves while simultaneously undercutting the critical effort to utilize American engineering and ingenuity to expand human knowledge. Such a proposal threatens American leadership in the fields of astrophysics and advanced space technology while likely eliminating hundreds, if not thousands, of high-tech jobs. Additionally, this proposal comes before the completion of a revised construction plan and budget for a launch of JWST by 2018. The United States position as the leader in astronomy, space science, and spaceflight is directly threatened by this proposal."

Keith's note: According to a tweet by Brian Berger at Space News: "House CJS mark also "terminates funding for [JWST] , which is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management".


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