Congress: October 2011 Archives

Fueling Stations vs. Monster Rocket, Dana Rohrabacher, Space News

"At the end of our July 12 House Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing, "A Review of NASA's Space Launch System," I asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about the relative cost of using the technology of on-orbit propellant depots instead of relying on new large heavy-lift launch vehicles. He replied that he believed the studies had been done, and the fuel depot solution proved to be more expensive, and promised to get me the full answer. As of this writing, I am still waiting for that answer. It has been more than three months, and NASA has not provided any analysis, or any data at all, that shows why depots are not a good solution or why they are more expensive."

- Rohrabacher Demands Release of NASA's Recent On-Orbit Fuel Depot Analysis, earlier post - Update on NASA's Hidden Fuel Depot Studies - NASA Studies Show Cheaper Alternatives to SLS, earlier post

Full Committee Hearing: NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program: Accomplishments and Challenges

Panel One
- John Elbon, Boeing - statement
- Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada - statement
- Elon Musk, SpaceX - statement
- Charles Precourt, ATK - statement
- George Sowers, United Launch Alliance - statement

Panel Two
- Paul Martin, Inspector General, NASA - statement
- Bill Gerstenmaier, HEOMD, NASA - statement

- Rep. Hall: "Blue Origin declined to testify despite getting $14.9 million from NASA and will have to explain that to the rest of the committee."

- Hearing Charter
- Live webcast

Opening statements:

- Rep. Hall
- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
- Rep. Jerry Costello

Hearing: Efforts to Transfer America's Leading Edge Science to China

"Panel I
- Rep. Frank Wolf
- Thomas Armstrong, Managing Associate General Counsel, GAO
- John Holdren, OSTP Director
- Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

Panel II
- Rick Fisher, Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center
- Elizabeth Economy, Ph. D., Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations"

Office of Science and Technology Policy--Bilateral Activities with China, October 11, 2011

"Section 1340 prohibits OSTP from engaging in bilateral activities with the government of the People's Republic of China or Chinese-owned companies unless specifically authorized. Because OSTP was prohibited from using appropriated funds to participate in the Innovation Dialogue and the S&ED, OSTP violated the Antideficiency Act."

GAO: With China dialogues, WH violated, Washington Examiner

"Rick Weiss, an OSTP senior analyst and director of Strategic Communications for OSTP, said that White House OLC opinions take precedence over those of the GAO."

Keith's note: No doubt, amidst all of his arm waving, full-time, chronic China hater Frank Wolf will come within an inch of hinting that Bolden, Holdren et al are somehow traitors for implementing official Administration policy when in fact they were conducting the same sort of official diplomatic and trade activities that countless other U.S. representatives do on a daily basis in a broad variety of areas. The title of this hearing is quite revealing: "Efforts to Transfer America's Leading Edge Science to China". Wolf has already made up his mind - he just wants to point his finger at someone. Newsflash: Two iPads made in China will be flying to the ISS on a Russian Progress cargo freighter soon. There are already Chinese-manufactured Lenovo laptops up there - maybe Rep. Wolf should order a halt to this too and order that these tainted goods be banned as well.

- NASA Astronaut Andy Thomas is Still Bashing China On The Job, earlier post
- Video: China Uses "America The Beautiful" on Their Space Station Propaganda, earlier post
- Bolden is "Rooting" For Chinese Success in Space, earlier post
- Frank Wolf Doesn't Like China, earlier post
- White House Was Against Bolden's China Trip Before They Were For It, earlier post

More stories

NASA Is Considering Fuel Depots in the Skies, NY Times

"Although General Bolden promised to provide the information, [Rep. Dana] Rohrabacher said he had obtained the study about propellant depots only through unofficial channels. "I'm shocked that the leadership in NASA would try to keep a report as significant as this away from decision makers of the legislative branch," Mr. Rohrabacher said, adding that the study gave him "the ammunition to make a case" to revisit NASA's plans for human spaceflight."

Propellant depots: the fiscally responsible and feasible alternative to SLS, Space Review

"The information presented here proves that the propellant depot architecture is a viable alternative to the Space Launch System. Just as importantly, the propellant depot strategy fits within the country's need for programs that are in sound monetary policy. NASA needs a strategy that NASA leaders and employees can back in private, as well as in public."

In-orbit Fuel Depots vs. NASA's Heavy Lift Space Launch System (SLS) for Dummies, TMC.net

"In November, NASA engineers will meet in Washington to discuss how to leverage propellant depots to get further into space and enable "more ambitious missions" using the agency's heavy lift Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, according to an October 22, 2011 piece. But apparently NASA officials aren't interested in trying to convince/fight Congress about the time and cost savings a fuel depot architecture would offer deep space missions."

NASA May Create Refueling Stations In Space, MyFox, Houston

"This study highlights some interesting benefits of depots, but it is too singularly focused," NASA official William Gerstenmaier said in a statement. "NASA is actively studying depots and how they can be used with other proposed elements to provide the lowest cost, sustainable exploration plan."

- NASA Studies Show Cheaper Alternatives to SLS, earlier post
- Fuel Depots and Congress, earlier post
- In-Space Cryogenic Propellant Storage and Transfer Demonstration Mission Concept Studies, 2011, NASA GRC, earlier post
- Using Commercial Launchers and Fuel Depots Instead of HLVs, earlier post
- The HLV Cost Information NASA Decided Not To Give To Congress, earlier post

Republicans Send Deficit Reduction Recommendations to Select Committee (NASA excerpts)

"We propose reductions of $177 million (based on the FY12 request) by taking the following actions:

* Cancellation of OCO-2 mission (received $89.0 million in the FYI 1 CR; $91 million savings in FY 12; $149 million savings over five years). Life cycle cost savings could be higher as NASA struggles to define a launch vehicle to carry OCO-2 to orbit.

* Reduce by 20% "Other Missions and Data Analysis" account within the Earth Systematic Missions (received $274 million in the FY11 CR; $74 million in savings in FY 12; $584 million in savings over five years). The FY12 request represents a 66.8% increase over FY2010 enacted, with an average annual increase thereafter of 32%.

* Reduce by 20% "Venture Class Missions" account within the Earth System Science Pathfinder Missions (received $32 million under the FY11 CR; $12.4 million savings in FY12; $144 million savings over five years). Venture Class Missions is a new activity for NASA, begun in response to a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences. It is, in essence, a new start. While we support the program's goals, we simply propose that growth in the spending profile be moderated."

Keith's note: Of course the Republican staffers on this authorizing committee could have picked any mission with a similar cost range to cut but they chose OCO-2 because its mission is directly related to global change issues. Alas, the National Academy of Sciences sees the replacement of OCO-1 as being important. I guess that just makes it a bigger target for climate change deniers. Why get data, eh? Take a look at the other cuts that are recommended. It is clear that there is an anti-Earth science bias running throughout. If you were to collect all of the input that the Super Committee as received from here and there you'd see all manner of proposed cuts - some obvious, some wacky, and many overtly partisan. Keep that in mind when you read this.

Republicans Send Deficit Reduction Recommendations to Select Committee (NASA excerpts)

"Cancellation of OCO-2 mission ... Reduce by 20% "Other Missions and Data Analysis" account within the Earth Systematic Missions ... Reduce by 20% "Venture Class Missions" account within the Earth System Science Pathfinder Missions ... "

NASA Money Sponge Update

Editorial: Identify JWST's Bill Payers, editorial, Space News

"... the Space Launch System, which per the House and Senate spending bills is slated to receive nearly $2 billion next year, is an appropriate bill payer for JWST. Given that NASA has no established exploration destination requiring the heavy-lift rocket on the schedule mandated by Congress, stretching out its development to help fund an observatory of undeniable scientific merit -- its substantial problems notwithstanding -- is a fair trade."

JWST and SLS: Dueling Giant Money Sponges, earlier post

"So, we have one giant money sponge (JWST) already sucking up dollars with yet another money sponge (SLS) on the drawing board. Since the money simply is not there to do either project to begin with, trying to do both of them together will devour funds from smaller NASA programs. It will also pit these money sponges' ever-growing chronic need for dollars against the other's similar insatiable appetite. And all of this will happen while the Federal budget is almost certainly going to be constrained - regardless of who wins the 2012 election. So, will someone explain to me how NASA is going to build and launch both JWST and SLS and have money left over to do all of the other things that it is both chartered to do - and directed to do - by Congress?"

Rep. Lamar Smith Seeks Investigation on the Politicization of NASA

"Congressman Lamar Smith, the vice-chair of the Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, today called for NASA's inspector general to investigate the politicization of the agency. This stems from a NASA-internal report showing that Obama Administration political appointees "focus on Democratic political goals, not national goals," creating a dysfunctional and hostile work environment for NASA's career civil servants."

Keith's note: Yawn. And when Republican political appointees at NASA where doing the exact same thing that has Lamar Smith all hot and bothered, he never uttered a peep. And who works on Smith's staff? Former NASA political appointee Chris Shank (R). Pot, Kettle, Black.

NASA OIG: Investigative Summary Regarding Allegations that NASA Suppressed Climate Change Science and Denied Media Access to Dr. James E. Hansen, earlier post

"...it is our conclusion that the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs' actions were inconsistent with the mandate and intent of NASA's controlling legislation--the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Space Act) and NASA's implementing regulations--insomuch as they prevented "the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination" of information concerning NASA's activities and results. While we could not substantiate that Administration officials employed outside NASA approved or disapproved or edited specific news releases, we do, however, find by a preponderance of the evidence that the claims of inappropriate political interference made by the climate change scientists and career Public Affairs Officers were more persuasive than the arguments of the senior Public Affairs officials that their actions were due to the volume and poor quality of the draft news releases."

Internal NASA documents portray a dysfunctional, political agency, Houston Chronicle

"[Rep. Smith's] request was prompted by NASA internal documents that date to February, 2010. They come from briefings on Team Development Assessment Reports. Essentially center directors, non-technical leaders at NASA HQ and technical leaders at NASA HQ were surveyed at the time about the morale, and concerns about the agency. The briefing chart below reflects a summary of the survey results for center directors (such as Johnson Space Center's Mike Coats)"


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