Congress: May 2012 Archives

NASA Budget Would Be More of the Same ... on the Surface, National Journal

"Unfortunately, the Committee has lost confidence in NOAA's ability to control procurement costs or articulate reliable funding profiles. Therefore, we have taken the unprecedented step of transferring responsibility for building our Nation's operational weather satellites from NOAA to NASA," [Mikulski] said."

U.S. could lose aging eyes in the sky, CNN

"Of 23 such satellites now aloft -- carrying dozens of instruments that help weather forecasters produce storm warnings and measure pollution, ocean winds and sea levels -- only six are expected to remain in operation by 2020, and efforts to replace them have stalled, the National Research Council reports."

Satellites at risk, Washington Post

"The NRC proposes restoring NASA's earth observation satellite funding to the level seen in the late 1990s -- before President George W. Bush reprogrammed money from those satellites into things such as manned spaceflight to Mars. That level stands at about $2 billion."

Sen. Grassley wants answers on Google execs' air fleet leasing at NASA field, The Hill

"Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to know if Google is getting a sweetheart deal from its lease of a California airfield operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Grassley inquires as to "troubling allegations" regarding the fleet of aircraft owned by Google executives at California's Moffett Airfield, a former Naval Air station now operated by NASA."

Holding company exec to Grassley: Not Google's planes, The Hill

Grassley's letter

"Ambrose also tells Grassley that H211 pays "above market rent" for the hangar at Moffett, and that the company has operated more than 150 scientific flights for NASA. A Google spokesman told The Hill that the aircraft are fitted with NASA equipment for these flights. Ambrose responded to concerns that the Google executives are purchasing fuel at a reduced price by telling him that the only fuel available at the field is controlled by a Defense Department contractor, "so that is the fuel we use."

Keith's note: Grassley's ace investigators seem to be unaware of the fact that the deal Google has for aviation fuel at Moffett Field is between Google and the USAF - NASA is not a part of it. Also, it would cost significantly less for Google to house its fleet at SJC or SFO than it does at Moffett Field where Google is paying premium price - and their jets are available for NASA to use. In addition, I am told that the 5% figure cited by Grassley for science flights is wrong - it is actually 15%. Other stories refer to "humanitarian groups" being denied access. Apparently a single, small organization run by an individual with no airplanes tried to get a deal. Its hard to store something that you do not have.

If this is a "sweatheart deal" then NASA is the one benefitting the most. Stay tuned. Oh yes, this agreement was initially negotiated and signed in 2007 and then amended. when Romney space advisor Mike Griffin was NASA Administrator. Griffin approved of it. An extension was signed in 2011 when Bolden was Administrator - and he approved of it also.

AIP FYI: FY 2013 Appropriations Committee Reports: NASA

"Not surprisingly, considering the size of NASA's budget and its wide range of programs, the appropriators included extensive language in the House and Senate reports accompanying the funding bills regarding NASA. This FYI provides report language regarding the agency's science program. Language within each report on all programs stands, unless there is a conflict that will be resolved in the final conference report. This final conference report, likely to be written in late fall, will also resolve differences in recommended funding levels."

Chairman Hall Statement on Passage of Science Appropriations Bill

"Importantly, this bill maintains development of a new heavy-lift launch system and crew capsule. It maintains a healthy space science enterprise, continues to support innovative aeronautics research, and funds the Administration's commercial crew program at the authorized level of $500 million. Our Committee will continue to provide oversight of the commercial crew program and work with Appropriators to support a program that has the best chance to succeed on schedule, with appropriate safeguards for the crew, and with the best use of taxpayer dollars."

NASA Budget Takes $126M Hit on House Floor, Space News

"But by midnight, the House voted 206 to 204 to adopt an amendment offered by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) to take $126 million out of NASA's Cross Agency Support account -- which covers overhead at the agency's nine government-run field centers -- and move it to the Justice Department's COPS community policing program. With the additional cut, NASA would see its budget shrink by $324 million -- a 1.8 percent drop compared to 2012."

Keith's note: Congressional sources report that some people had a problem getting in touch with NASA Legislative Affairs AA Seth Statler during recent House budget deliberations. These sessions are seen as crucial hand-to-hand combat - a time when the Code L AA is expected to be in the trenches ready to work behind the scenes at a moment's notice.

Keith's note: NASA FY 2013 Budget debate is now live on C-SPAN. Watch live.

Comments Made During House Debate on NASA FY 2013 Budget

"Mr. Rohrabacher: I rise today to engage in a colloquy on NASA's Commercial Crew program. The chairman has shown great leadership on space and science issues. He and I have often worked together on issues of shared interest, and he is a great friend. The report of this bill contains some strong language about NASA's Commercial Crew program, and I admittedly have some concerns about that language. I believe it makes a flawed comparison between commercial crew program partners and the energy firm Solyndra. In addition, it requires an immediate downselect to a single program partner, which I do not believe is the best path forward."

Apollo Commanders Back Call For Quick Commercial Crew Selection, Aviation Week

"It seems unlikely that NASA will receive significant budgetary relief in the foreseeable future," the three retired astronauts wrote in a May 4 letter to Wolf. "Consequently, it is mandatory to maximize return on the limited funds available to access low Earth orbit. An early downselect would seem to be prudent in order to maximize the possibility of developing a crew-carrying spacecraft in time to be operationally useful."

NASA: Competition at core of commercial crew program, Spaceflight Now

"Ed Mango, manager of NASA's commercial crew program, said Tuesday a "downselect" to a sole company could double the cost of fielding a privately-built human transportation system. "We need competition as long as possible. The price to go with one [provider] starting today, and then all the way through certification and into services, is at least twice what it would be if you had competition at least as long as possible," Mango said."

White House promises veto of GOP spending bill, AP

"The White House on Monday vowed to veto a House spending bill for the Justice Department, NASA and several other agencies, charging its GOP authors with violating last summer's budget pact and cutting programs like legal aid to the poor too deeply."

White House threatens veto on Commerce, Justice spending bill, The Hill

"The White House has said that Obama will sign none of the 12 annual spending bills, even if they make it through the Democratic Senate, unless the House GOP abandons its overall budget plans."

Statement of Administration Policy H.R. 5326 (NASA excerpt)

"The Administration strongly opposes the level of funding provided for the commercial crew program, which is $330 million below the FY 2013 Budget request, as well as restrictive report language that would eliminate competition in the program. This would increase the time the United States will be required to rely solely on foreign providers to transport American astronauts to and from the space station. While the Administration appreciates the overall funding level provided to NASA, the bill provides some NASA programs with unnecessary increases at the expense of other important initiatives."

Carwash Will Help Raise Funds, Awareness.Professional Carwashing & Detailing,

"Across the country, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will be holding charity carwashes on June 9 to help restore cuts to NASA's Planetary Exploration Budget, according to the Planetary ExplorationCar Wash& Bake Sale website." It also is being used to "raise awareness" on the effects of the cuts. The publication asks, "Will a nationwide charity carwash raise enough money to restore NASA's programs?"

Keith's initial note: This item was contained in today's 'Bulletin News' which is circulated within NASA. No one seems to have tried to correct this. Note that the bake sale website says "Funds collected by each event sent by event organizers to House or Senate Appropriations - dozens of letters with cash."

Keith's 3 May 7:19 pm update: The website at SwRI has been changed. This is what it originally looked like - note wording in lower right hand corner. Now the site says "recommend token pricing, e.g.: $2 for a carwash - the purpose of collected funds is just meant to cover the cost of soap, towels, etc, required to host the event." So ... what's the point? Its sounds like virtually no money will be raised by this event. As far as I can tell this webpage talked about giving Congress "letters with cash" for several weeks. Then it is mentioned here on NASAWatch and suddenly the event's organizers drop the overt fundraising - which seems to have been the core purpose in the first place? Why not donate the proceeds to NSS or the Planetary Society?



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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from May 2012.

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