Congress: September 2019 Archives

Senate Appropriators Propose $22.75 Billion for NASA in FY2020, Some Extra for Artemis, Space Policy Online

"The Senate Appropriations Committee began marking up its version of the FY2020 Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill that funds NASA today. The eagerly anticipated action is seen as a bellwether of Senate support for NASA's Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. The results appear mixed, with some but not all of the extra $1.6 billion NASA requested in May. It is an improvement compared to the House version, however, which did not include any of the $1.6 billion. Overall the agency did slightly better in the Senate committee than in the House, with a top-line of $22.75 billion compared to $22.32 billion."

Some NASA contractors appear to be trying to kill the Lunar Gateway, Ars Technica

"These members, including Oklahoma Democratic representative and committee chair Kendra Horn, as well as Alabama Republican representative Mo Brooks, were particularly skeptical of private rockets in their comments and questions during the hearing. They also pressed NASA on why the agency is not moving more quickly with development of a powerful second stage upgrade for the agency's Space Launch System rocket. This "Exploration Upper Stage" would increase the amount of mass the rocket could send to the Moon from 26 tons to 37 tons. Wednesday's hearing was notable because it appears to mark an escalation in an intense lobbying battle going on behind the scenes by some contractors--most likely led by Boeing--to kill NASA's proposed Lunar Gateway and instead accelerate funding for the Exploration Upper Stage ...

... What was surprising is that Horn and others at the hearing also appeared to be swayed by Cooke's view that bypassing commercial rockets and the Gateway would lead to a simpler and faster lunar mission. "I believe there is value in developing commercial capabilities," she said toward the end of the hearing. However, she added, "I am concerned that the decisions are not being driven by what is most efficient or effective and what is most cost efficient."

Keith's note: Yesterday Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

This not so subtle campaign to eliminate Gateway has been underway for months.

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Hearing: Developing Core Capabilities for Deep Space Exploration: An Update on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems

Watch live

Keith's note: Doug Cooke was pushing for the Exploration Upper Stage - something Boeing has been trying to get NASA to fund for years. Cooke has worked for Boeing for years. I thought it was a little odd that no one brought up that fact in the hearing - especially when you can see from his Truth in Testimony Disclosure Form that he as been paid $466,250 between 2017 and today. The bio at the end of his prepared testimony makes zero mention of "Boeing" but pushes the EUS. Just sayin'

NASA: Actions Needed to Improve the Management of Human Spaceflight Programs

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three related human spaceflight programs are in the integration and test phase of development, a phase of the acquisition process that often reveals unforeseen challenges leading to cost growth and schedule delays. Since GAO last reported on the status of these programs in June 2019, each program has made progress. For example, the Orion program conducted a key test to demonstrate the ability to abort a mission should a life-threatening failure occur during launch. As GAO found in June 2019, however, the programs continue to face significant schedule delays. In November 2018, within one year of announcing an up to 19-month delay for the three programs--the Space Launch System (SLS) vehicle, the Orion crew spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)--NASA senior leaders acknowledged the revised launch date of June 2020 is unlikely. In addition, any issues uncovered during integration and testing may push the date as late as June 2021. Moreover, GAO found that NASA's calculations of cost growth for the SLS program is understated by more than 750 million dollars."

Chairwoman Horn's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"I ask these questions because we need to know how the near-term status of SLS and Orion affects our overall exploration goals. The House will vote soon on a Continuing Resolution for FY 2020--a relatively "clean" CR with no additional funding for the Moon program. What will this mean for the 2024 date? In the absence of detailed information, a plan, and an estimated budget profile for the Moon program, I can't get to a clear answer."

Chairwoman Johnson's Opening Statement for Status of NASA's Exploration Systems Development Programs Hearing

"Moreover, it has now been more than two months since the head of the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Directorate was removed from his position, with no permanent replacement yet identified--even though that position is critical to the success of NASA's Exploration and ISS programs. And we have been told not to expect a cost estimate or budget plan for the President's Moon program before next year."

Rep. Frank Lucas' Statement at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"Year after year, the Trump Administration has proposed increased funding for NASA Exploration Systems, only to have Congress appropriate even more than the Administration requested. This year the Administration took the extraordinary step of amending their budget by requesting an additional $1.6 billion to accelerate our return to the Moon by 2024. This will serve as a down payment on the systems necessary to enable this goal. The primary elements are already well under development."

Opening Statement of Rep. Brian Babin at Space Subcommittee Hearing on NASA's SLS, Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems Programs

"While I am excited by the promise of how strategic assets like SLS and Orion will enable America's return to the Moon, this Committee has a responsibility to conduct oversight to ensure these programs are successful. All three exploration system elements - SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems -- have experienced many delays and cost overruns over the years. Some of the setbacks were caused by Administrations that tried to stifle program budgets and even cancel the programs."

Ohio senators propose renaming NASA site for Neil Armstrong, AP

"Ohio's U.S. senators want Congress to rename a NASA research facility in Ohio after astronaut Neil Armstrong. Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Sherrod Brown introduced legislation Thursday to honor the Ohio native by renaming the NASA Plum Brook Station in Sandusky. Portman says he raised the idea with Armstrong in 2012, a year before Armstrong's death. The senator says Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, wasn't comfortable with the attention it would bring. Portman says he has since spoken with NASA and Armstrong's family and they support renaming the facility."

Keith's note: Wait a minute we already have a NASA Facility named after Neil Armstrong - NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC). Don't these congressional staffers have Google to check this stuff out before running it up to their boss? Or is NASA going to have two centers/facilities named "Armstrong"? I wonder what the good people of Sandusky think about this? Besides much of this facility is no longer even used - parts of it have already been demolished and the reactor has been decommissioned. How many Orion and Service Module tests are going to be done there before GRC has to go out and find something new to do with the old buildings. Oh yes a reader reminds me that NASA/KSC also has the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Facility just east of the HQ building, which is where Orion is assembled and tested. If NASA is not done honoring Neil Armstrong then perhaps picking a quasi abandoned facility out in the woods is not the best way to do so. Maybe Jeff Bezos can name a rocket after him.

NASA Honors Astronaut Neil Armstrong with Center Renaming, Earlier post (2014)

"Two generations of aerospace engineering excellence will come together March 1 when NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., is redesignated NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center."

Dakota Creek launches R/V Neil Armstrong , Earlier post (2014)

"Dakota Creek Industries (DCI) launched the oceanographic research ship R/V Neil Armstrong (AGOR 27) at its Anacortes, WA, shipyard on February 22nd, 2014. Construction of theĀ  R/V Neil Armstrong and her sister vessel R/V Sally Ride (AGOR 28), also well under way at DCI, have progressed according to plan, meeting original schedule and cost baselines."


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