Congress: June 2016 Archives

Commercial Space: Industry Developments and FAA Challenges, GAO

"GAO reported in 2015 that FAA's budget requests for its commercial space launch activities generally were based on the number of projected launches, but that in recent years the actual number of launches was much lower than FAA's projections. GAO also reported that, according to FAA officials, more detailed information was not provided in FAA's budget submissions because the agency lacked information on its workload overseeing commercial space launch activities. In addition, GAO reported that the Office of Commercial Space Transportation did not track the amount of time spent on various activities."

Statements by: Taber MacCallum, George Nield, Michael Lopez-Alegria, Michael Gold, Rep. LoBiondo

Senate Reaches Agreement on Russian RD-180 Engines, SpacePolicyOnline

"Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) brokered an agreement among Senators who have been at sharp odds over how to transition U.S. rocket launches away from reliance on Russian RD-180 engines to a new American-made engine. The Nelson amendment passed the Senate this morning by voice vote as part of the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA itself then passed the Senate by a vote of 85-13. In brief, the compromise sets December 31, 2022 as the end date for use of the RD-180 by the United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Atlas V launches of national security satellites. It also limits to 18 the number of RD-180s that can be used between the date that the FY2017 NDAA is signed into law (enacted) and that end date."

NDAA is DOA at OMB

Statement of Administration Policy: S. 2943 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, OMB

"If the President were presented with S. 2943, his senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill. ...

... Multiple Provisions Imposing Restrictions on the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program: The Administration strongly objects to sections 1036, 1037, 1038, and 1611. Section 1036 would restrict DOD's authority to use RD-180 engines, eliminate the Secretary's authority to waive restrictions to protect national security interests, and -- with section 1037 -- disqualify a domestic launch service provider from offering a competitive, certified launch service capability. Section 1038 would repeal the statutory requirement to allow all certified providers to compete for launch service procurements. Section 1611 would redirect funds away from the development of modern, cost-effective, domestic launch capabilities that will replace non-allied engines. The combined effect of these provisions would be to eliminate price-based competition of EELV launch service contracts starting in FY 2017, force the Department to allocate missions, inhibit DOD's ability to maintain assured access to space, delay the launch of national security satellites, delay the on-ramp of new domestic launch capabilities and services, and increase the cost of space launch to DOD, the Intelligence Community, and civil agencies. The authorization to use up to 18 RD-180 engines is necessary and prudent to expeditiously and affordably transition to the new domestic launch capabilities currently under development."

Use of Surplus Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Motors for Commercial Space Launches: Section 1607 would direct the Comptroller General to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits of providing surplus ICBMs to the private sector for commercial space launch purposes. Both Federal law and the Administration's National Space Transportation Policy currently prohibit such transfers for commercial use. The Administration continues to support this long-standing policy, which seeks to avoid undermining investment, entrepreneurship, and innovation in the launch market."

There are other military space-related issues of concerns listed as well.

Dick Malow

Keith's note: Dick Malow, a long-time staff member on the House VA-HUD Appropriations subcommittee, has died after a lengthy illness. Malow was known for his support of NASA which often required some tough love on his part. Over the years Malow managed to have a lot of influence upon the way that the International Space Station was designed, re-designed, and then redesigned again so as to make it easier to assemble and more useful to the people who would eventually do research on it. His influence on what eventually became the ISS was rather substantial and was not totally appreciated at the time. I can remember more than once sitting in a meeting with the engineering side of the Space Station Freedom program when a design or science utilization issue came up. Usually someone was trying to cut a corner or reduce some capability that the science users needed. More than once I said something to the effect of "well, if the science types tell Malow about this you know that there will be a directive from Congress telling you to stop doing it." Indeed, that actually happened more than once. Dick Malow helped keep the space station alive when others wanted to kill it and helped make it useful when others just wanted to launch hardware - any hardware - that simply kept the lights on.. Ad Astra Dick.

Obituary, Washington Post


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