BREAKING: House to vote on Senate NASA bill WEDNESDAY

By Phil Plait | September 28, 2010 3:56 pm

[UPDATE 2: 21:40 MDT: The House passed the funding bill 304 – 118, garnering the needed 2/3 of the vote. Yay!]

[UPDATE (for real) 19:45 MDT: The House just postponed voting on the NASA bill. It should get a counted vote later tonight. I’m not sure when.]

[UPDATE: 3:30 MDT: The AP is reporting that the NASA bill passed the House, and will be sent to Obama to sign. I have no other sources for this yet, but it looks real. If so, yay! I’ll add that the House was stymied on other important measures due to what looks to me to be more of their eternal and frankly stupid partisan bickering. At least they got the NASA bill done.] That report is premature, as I had feared. As of 4:45 MDT the bill has not yet been brought up to the Floor. Still waiting…

NASA logoBREAKING NEWS:

The US House of Representatives is slated to vote on a NASA funding bill WEDNESDAY. The bill is essentially the same the Senate passed recently. The House had a compromise bill up for debate, but decided yesterday there wasn’t time before Congress goes on vacation. So they are going to vote on the Senate version instead.

What follows below is some detail.

The quick version: I support this bill, and I urge people to call their Representative and ask them to vote for it. I’ve already called my Congressman and asked him to support it.

The longer version:

This bill, called "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010" doles out authorizes funding for NASA from 2010 – 2013, and advises NASA on what to spend that money on.

The bottom line is the funding:

For fiscal year 2011: $19,000,000,000

For fiscal year 2012: $19,450,000,000

For fiscal year 2013: $19,960,000,000

Note that the amount goes up every year, an indication that Congress is willing to not only support NASA’s work, but make it sustainable.

They make this clear right up front:

LONG TERM GOAL. —The long term goal of the human space flight and exploration efforts of NASA shall be to expand permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and to do so, where practical, in a manner involving international partners.

That stresses human spaceflight, but the bill funds robotic Earth, space, and solar science strongly as well. I can always wish for more funds for unmanned exploration (and have it part of the long-term goal), but the money is there and I’m glad.

NASA questionAs for the Shuttle and Constellation, that gets interesting. From what I can tell, this bill axes Constellation. I support that, as I have all along. I think that some progress has been made in a follow-on rocket system, but Constellation is bogged down, over budget, and behind schedule. There are lots of reasons for that, but the bottom line is that while some things have been learned, the rocket system itself will take far too long and cost far too much.

So in this bill Constellation is gone and new system is required. I like that, but then the bill goes into details of what this new system should do — like how much payload it can carry into orbit, and so on. I’m not thrilled with that. I think Congress should give general goals and leave the details to NASA experts. The bill does mention the Moon, Mars, and near-Earth asteroids, so that makes me happy. There are indeed bottom-line requirements to explore these three goals, but the bill doesn’t need to delineate them.

As for the Shuttle, I am not thrilled to see that the bill supports the Shuttle through fiscal year 2011. I don’t know if that’s really necessary given the current launch manifest, and I have a sneaky suspicion it’s a jobs program to keep NASA people employed. I want to see them employed, but it should be done the right way. Immediate funding to move their expertise to the new launch system might be a better way to do this. But again, this is just a suspicion of mine, and certainly not enough to detract from the rest of the bill.

Still, overall I think the bill does the right thing here. It also reinforces NASA’s commitment to private launch vehicles, which is critical. SpaceX is on the thin edge of getting their Falcon 9 rocket capable of flights to the space station, and they need to influx of funding to keep that up.

Speaking of ISS, the bill also support it to 2020. As I have said many times, I am not a huge fan of the station, but it’s built now, and it would be a waste of money to let it lie fallow. It costs far less now to do things with it than it did to build it, so we can continue to work on it and perhaps get some good science and knowledge out of it.

There are lots of smaller projects supported in the bill — I was surprised and happy to see support for a suborbital research program, as well as restarting the radioisotope thermoelectric generator program to supply power to deep space science missions — but I’m not too concerned over those as yet. The important bits are about supporting science, supporting manned missions, and doing both the right way. Defunding Constellation, restarting the follow-on launch system, and putting money into science is the right way to do this.

So again, I support this bill in general, and think the House should pass it. Mind you, Friday is the last day for session; after that everyone goes home to start campaigning. As things stand now, NASA has no budget and no future. The House must pass this bill if NASA is to get the funding it needs. The fiscal year ends on Thursday!

So I ask that you contact your Representative and ask them to vote yes on this bill. Say it by name: S.3729, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. That way you can be clear. From what I understand, it needs a 2/3 majority to pass, so it needs every vote it can get.

For my part, I’ll try to stay up on this news as it occurs Wednesday. Stay tuned.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (47)

Links to this Post

  1. Astronews Daily (2455469) | September 29, 2010
  1. Gonçalo Aguiar

    So… I guess it’s good news huh?

  2. Call your representative and tell them to give 1% of this budget to the bad astronomer to support the popularization of NASA!!!

  3. Rick M

    Others have expressed concern that the House language severely limits what can be done with commercial HSF providers. It’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on. I guess I really need to sit down and read both bills myself.

  4. Dan

    Didn’t NASA estimate Apollo at less then $10B then round that up to $20B then ultimately spend like $25B?

    Maybe it is, “bogged down, over budget, and behind schedule.”

    How is starting over going to fix any of this? Is there an “A” team waiting in the wings? Or are we going to reassign the people who let their project get “bogged down, over budget, and behind schedule”?

    Continued funding ought to be tied to performance.

  5. AliCali

    “Constellation is bogged down, over budget, and behind schedule. There are lots of reasons for that, but the bottom line is that while some things have been learned, the rocket system itself will take far too long and cost far too much.”

    I haven’t followed the detail, but the question shouldn’t be how much has already been spent on Constellation, but how much is left to be spent and do we get our money’s worth?

    In other words, let’s say Constellation is supposed to cost $1B, but $1.75B has been spent so far and it’ll take another $0.25B to finish. (I don’t know the actual figures, I’m just making a point about sunk costs.)

    The incorrect reply is, “Oh my, it’ll cost $2B. That’s too much. We need to cancel it.” Instead, we have to say, “It’ll cost an addition $0.25B to finish. Is the end product worth that amount of money?”

    So it’s not a question of cost vs. budget, but how much is left to spend and is it worth it? Is Constellation the project that’s a dead-end, where it’ll give no capabilities beyond its design, and it’s better to cut it off now and work on something that gives more promise?

    _________

    And completely off topic, but something I’ve always wanted to put out there every time I read something on the internet:

    When you type: It’s (with the apostrophe), this means, “It is.” Always. Do not type “It’s” when you don’t mean “it is.” Otherwise, omit the apostrophe. For instance, “In engineering, it’s better to design a rocket better than its predecessor.” This is an exception to where the apostrophe means possessive.

    Also, the opposite of win is lose, not loose. Loose is the opposite of tight.

    There are others (such as not having an apostrophe before the s when it’s plural), but those two really bug me.

  6. TravisM

    I emailed my rep. through his website and was prepared to call as well, but his office is “closed at this time.” at 6:45 EST? Just before an election? Hmmm. I will try to call tomorrow from work but I fear it will be to late!

  7. Tribeca Mike

    Dan, indeed the cost of the Apollo program came out to around $24 billion, but it wasn’t like the money boarded a spaceship and flew away. To quote Wikipedia, “At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities.”

  8. Josie

    I don’t know that a comparison between Apollo and Constellation in straight up dollars is valid.

    I’ve read (and forgive me for not having the reference handy –someone else might know) that the Apollo project more than paid for itself with its technology advances that then trickled down into earth-bound businesses.

    I am not saying that the constellation project wouldn’t do the same, but without more detail such projections are situational. Also, earth-bound tech has come a long way on its on trajectory (no pun intended) and might not realize the same dramatic benefits from a modern day rocket project as it did 40 years ago.

  9. Dan

    Sorry, I should have been more clear. My point was that being over budget is really pretty normal even on really successful projects – and IMO, not in itself a reason to scrap a project. But we need to see some results – not just a string of failed projects and “do over’s”.

    $24B was a bargain for what we ultimately got out of the program.

  10. Lee Holmes

    Apollo–and Saturn, without which, not–cost G$ 24 in then current dollars, the equivalent of G$ 154 today (Fiscal Year 2010).

  11. Ferris Valyn

    3 – Rick M – the Senate Bill does have some restrictions, that IMHO are not good. However, the original House bill had a lot more restrictions, which were even worse.

    4 – Dan – In the new program, continued funding is directly tied to results

  12. Good piece, will link tomorrow morning and urge readers to join the call for action.

  13. Jeff

    “This bill… doles out funding for NASA from 2010 – 2013, and advises NASA on what to spend that money on.”

    Quick correction: this bill *authorizes* funding for NASA, but does not actually provide any funding: that comes in a separate appropriations bill that won’t be considered until the lame duck session after the election. Appropriators are free to provide less funding than authorized (and have done so, in the past), although there are signs that appropriators are willing to fund the agency at the same level as in this authorization bill for FY 2011. The important thing about this bill is that it sets policy on issues such as HLV development, commercial crew, and the extension of the ISS to at least 2020.

    Yes, it’s a little confusing, but it’s not rocket sci… er, sorry.

  14. MadScientist

    @AliCali: Ivan3man usually catches’ tho’se mistakes’. How’ever, he seams too bee on holiday’s.

    @Josie: I don’t think there’s much Apollo tech that got into the consumer sector but there was a lot of good science. As with most research and development, only a few things have a broad enough use to become consumer items or contribute to development of other things. One big success was the development of the CCD detector array for astrophotography – these days many people have CCDs in anything from handheld video recorders to mobile phones and webcams and they’re dirt cheap – well, they’re cheap compared to the early devices and many contemporary devices used in science and industry.

  15. This sounds like good things to me. When they terminated constellation, it wasn’t the termination itself that upset me, it was the lack of a clear-cut long term human deep space exploration goal. Or any significant goal, really.

    1 (1) The extension of the human presence from
    2 low-Earth orbit to other regions of space beyond
    3 low-Earth orbit will enable missions to the surface of
    4 the Moon and missions to deep space destinations
    5 such as near-Earth asteroids and Mars.

    sounds great to me. All that is left is an inspiring speech and a deadline, and personally, I’d give them 239 days to write it.

  16. SLC

    Relative to the ISS, I repost from Bob Parks’ web site.

    2) drop the ISS in the Philippine trench before someone else gets hurt

    But of course, there are some in these parts whose opinion of Dr. Park and Steven Weinberg is less then favorable.

  17. Grand Lunar

    I’m keeping my digits crossed for this one Phil.

    I like the Senate bill as well, though like you I’m not keen on the specifics of the new rocket being laid out.
    NASA ought to go with what it can.

    Being a fan of Direct’s Jupiter 130 and 246 (or 241, or 244), I really, really hope THAT is what is made (and indications show that design is gaining support in NASA now, surprisingly).

    NASA is teetering on a knife edge, IMO. I just hope the right choices are made. And personally, I’d like the missions to come to pass SOON. We need major inspiration now.

  18. josie

    I’ll agree with mad scientist that lots of good science got done…but I’ll disagree about the lack of consumer goods making it down from the Apollo program (or space program in general perhaps)

    Personal computers, water recycling, dialysis machinery, flame retardant surfaces among others all got developmental boosts from the space program. Also, while it was not invented at NASA, Velcro was popularized by the space program and for that i am eternally grateful!!

    An interesting site about spinoffs from NASA (and yes I know this is way beyond Apollo, but i like it regardless!)
    http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    As for the Shuttle and Constellation, that gets interesting. From what I can tell, this bill axes Constellation. I support that, as I have all along. I think that some progress has been made in a follow-on rocket system, but Constellation is bogged down, over budget, and behind schedule. There are lots of reasons for that, but the bottom line is that while some things have been learned, the rocket system itself will take far too long and cost far too much.

    I strongly disagree. I am a supporter of the Ares-Constellation project for many reasons :

    1. Its the next thing that was planned and is (or was) finally under construction & taking physical shape. Which means it is wa-ay too late in the process to scrap it and go back to the drawing board now. Constellation at the equivalent stage that the Apollo program was at Apollo 4 .. & can you imagine what we’d have missed out on had we cancelled Apollo then and had the Soviet Empire won the Space Race and perhaps the Cold War instead?

    2. A return to the Moon makes sense for many reasons and helps with gaining experience and knowledge that will come in very handy if and when we move on to Mars. Constellation gives us something we can build on and learn from. There are so many things we have yet to do and see on the Moon – there is yet to be a woman on the Moon, an astronomer, a poet; we’ve yet to land on the Farside or at the poles or spend a full lunar day there. I think a permanent Lunar base is the next logical progression and a great idea – as is building a Farside Radio and optical observatory facility. Better to work up to Mars using a base that’s days not months away then progress to the next step than just gamble on going there directly without such preparation.

    3. Its all we’ve got. Without Ares-Constellation and without with the Shuttle what has NASA got in the way of human spaceflight capacity? Zero. Zilch. Zip. NASA will go from flying people into space, building and doing things in space as the leading agency to becoming a beggar depending on Russia (!) and the charity of the Private sector to get their astronauts into space. Not. Good Enough.

    The thought of that happening after the glory days of Apollo and the legacy of so much work and effort and money dedicated to human & esp. Amercian and Western spaceflight sickens me. I feel betrayed and depressed and appalled and angered and horrible at the thought that this is how NASA ends up. :-(

    Has Constellation had teething problems? Yes, but it has but that means fixing them NOT scrapping the whole thing! We do these things because they’re hard remember? When doing something hard you expect problems and you work hard and persistently to solve them rather than throwing in the towel and giving up like Obama is doing.

    Yes we can build Constellation and return NASA to the Moon – if only Obama would show the vision and courage needed to fund and push for it.

    I hate Obama for cancelling Constellation and offering no more than vague hot air waffle in place of a serious NASA human spaceflight, exploration and development program. I really, desperately, hope that Congress sees sense and prevents him from killing Constellation. I’ve said so before & I’ll say so again :

    I cannot ever forget or forgive Obama for that betrayal of past Apollo and NASA accomplishments, that betrayal and immense harm done for the hope of the USA’s and wider Western world’s future.

    For all his faults (&, yes, I know he had quite a few) President G. W. Bush had a hell of a lot more vision when it comes to space exploration and NASA than Obama has ever displayed. Even if Bush didn’t fund it enough at least he had a decent, visionary plan that would have kept America’s national human space program going and advancing rather than stalled in limbo and lost as Obama wants to leave it. :-(

  20. Eric

    Just to second Jeff’s comment (#13), Phil needs to amend his first sentence. Nobody’s voting on an appropriations bill any time soon (did I hear there’s an election coming up?). The authorization bill is important, but much of NASA’s low-speed train wreck over the last few years has been a matter of appropriations not adding up to enough to do what’s in the authorization.

  21. Messier Tidy Upper

    Also even if Ares-Constellation turned out to be too hard what about the alternative plan B :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/07/03/nasas-plan-b/

    which was supposed to happen instead if Constellation really could be made to work? Whatever happened to that alternative plan? Why hasn’t Obama at least gone for some fallback alternative rather than complete cancellation and nothing in its place?

    We need to have something flying even if we’re simultaneously planning and building future successors to that something. We need to do things in minimum ten year frameworks – otherwise we’ll NEVER do them. Human thinking being what it is. :-(

    We’ve had the skill and the technology to do so much for so long and it is so infuriatingly frustrating that we have allowed money and lack of political will to prevent us.

    We took one giant leap on the behalf of all Humanity back in 1969 – only to have fallen down again and sat on our metaphorical collective backsides ever since. That just seems so pathetically tragic.

    I expected so much better from Mr “Yes-we-can.” :-(

  22. t-storm

    Was there an Apollo 4? According to wikipedia no, their wasn’t.

    The Constellation program was throwing good money after bad. It was poorly funded and concieved. The shuttle program was similar. Too many unrealistic hopes and dreams that were never realized.

  23. JC

    MTU, if big dreams and little backing is “visionary” then every drunk in every bar everywhere is a freakin’ visionary. Whoop-de-freakin-doo-dah.

    Me, I’d rather have had Obama push for more funding to NASA and find a way (somehow…) to speed Constellation along. But, he didn’t. At least he didn’t just leave it in place, underfunded and continually slipping behind special, while giving speeches about how much he supported the program while it just sucked resources from other NASA projects.

  24. Omar

    So, if I understand this correctly, without the bill passing NASA has no budget allowance for the new fiscal year. With it passing, it does get $ for the next three years, with guidelines by the Senate?

    Sounds like it’s not the perfect situation, but backs are up against the wall.

    Say the bill fails to receive enough votes to pass, does that mean that Constellation will continue, or that constellation will still be axed with no additional funding allotment for the upcoming year?

  25. Jeffersonian

    phil, I enjoy your insights and analysis on this bill

  26. Messier Tidy Upper

    @21. t-storm Says:

    Was there an Apollo 4? According to wikipedia no, their wasn’t.

    Did you even check? There sure was – &, yes,it is indeed on Wikipedia too :

    Apollo 4, also known as Apollo-Saturn 501 (AS-501), was an A type mission – the first flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle, carrying no crew. It was also the first flight of the S-IC and S-II stages of the rocket. The launch, at 7:00 a.m. EST on November 9, 1967 from Launch Complex 39, was the first from the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island. The mission tested the complete Saturn V and Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) stack in what is known in the aerospace industry as an “all-up test”, meaning all stages were live and functional. The mission tested the newly revised Block II Apollo Command Module and tested its heat shield at simulated lunar-return speeds of approximately 25,000 mph (40,000 km/h). The mission was deemed by NASA as a complete success. It helped advance the Apollo program in its goal of landing men on the Moon by the end of the 1960s.

    I’ll post the source link for you below but it will take a while to clear moderation.

    The Constellation program was throwing good money after bad. It was poorly funded and concieved. The shuttle program was similar. Too many unrealistic hopes and dreams that were never realized.

    Poorly funded? Yes. Poorly concieved & unrealistic? I don’t think so. Why do you say that and can you back that assertion up with anything real other than your own opinion?

    As I noted, it was working at the Apollo 4 level already wwith one successful unmanned launch. We should have kept going with it – I see no reason why it wouldn’t have worked and it deserved a chance to succeed. If it was tried then failed, then and *only* then we should’ve moved to plan B or done something else other than just quit space and surrender the high frontier like Obama wishes.

  27. Messier Tidy Upper

    Source link for Apollo 4 the first successful Apollo launch :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_4

    See for comparison and inspiration the successful first test laucnh of the Ares rocket here :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ZHzAvFuYc

    Nor am I the only one thinking Obama is totally wrong here – see what Apollo era flight director Chris Kraft’s thinks here :

    http://www.hcnonline.com/articles/2010/05/05/bay_area_citizen/news/5chriskraft6.txt

    And note that Neil Armstrong among many other Apollo astronauts has publicly spoken out against Obama’s plan & the cancellation of NASA’s manned lunar return program :

    Obama ‘errs over space’ [Headline]

    WASHINGTON : [caps original] Neil Armstrong .. says US president Barack Obama is “poorly advised” on space matters, renewing criticism of a plan to abandon a project to return US astronauts to the Moon.

    Appearing before a Senate committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Armstrong said Mr Obama’s plan to end the Constellation program and cut space efforts appeared to be made without input from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the President’s Science advisor.

    “If the leadership we have aquired through our investment is allowed to fade away, other nations will step in where we have faltered. I do not believe that this would bein our best interests.” Armstrong said.

    Source : Page 71, “Obama errs over space” in ‘The Advertiser’ newspaper, 2010 May 14th.)

    If the famously reclusive, & quiet First Man himself is speaking out against Obama like this then you know it is serious & we need to listen.

  28. DrFlimmer

    @ Phil

    I think the funding of the Shuttle program through 2011 is meant to launch Atlantis next June on STS-135 (if I’m not mistaken) with a crew of 4. Since all the hardware is available and ready to go, I think this is the right choice.

    @ MTU

    So Apollo 4 was a fully developed and complete version of the Saturn 5, correct? Ares 1-X was nothing compared to that. It was merely a rocket that looked like Ares 1, but the technology on board was just a solid booster of the shuttle. That’s not even close to the complete Ares 1.
    Btw: The argument that Americans now rely on Russians due to Obama is completely wrong. That was the plan all along, since Ares would not have been ready before 2013 at the earliest according to the first plan. And since it was waaaay behind schedule it wouldn’t have been ready before 2015. In the 4-5 year gap Americans would have relied on Russians anyway.
    Next point: Ares relied on technology that basically comes from the shuttle with, say, slight improvements. Solid rocket boosters cannot be the future. That’s at least my opinion. I think the idea of inventing new things is a better start.

    And finally: This is the last time I ever reacted to one of your posts about this topic. Since you seem to copy and past the same things all the time, it really starts to annoy, as I told you before. In other circumstances one would call your behaviour trolling!
    At least you didn’t come up with the usual “Muslim crap”.

  29. Happy Camper

    I have some serious concerns with some of the manned programs (use of capsules) as proposed. First and foremost is the use of capsules that use a “rescue at sea” method of recovery. Think about that for a moment. Any space mission that ends essentially as an emergency situation involving ships, helicopters and thousands of personnel to recover the spacecraft and astronauts at sea is a non-starter for sustained manned space flight and is so 1960’s. The shuttle was neat but it became to complicated, to expensive and tried to do to many things.

    In my opinion what is needed is something on the order of the Dream Chaser although the method of launch (on top of a Atlas 5) is not the most desirable. Personally I would like to see congress fork out the money to get a more robust and sustainable system but unfortunately they just can’t see past the next election cycle.

  30. DennyMo

    24. DrFlimmer Says:
    [snip]
    At least you didn’t come up with the usual “Muslim crap”.
    *****
    In other circumstances, one would call your behavior troll-baiting!

  31. TW

    Killing Constellation is (was?) a political move, not an economic one. Whatever comes next will cost more, and take much longer to get to flight status.

  32. Elmar_M

    House bill= bad
    Senate bill = OK compromise, though not ideal either.
    I actually wished they would have gone with the proposal by the administration. That would have been much better.
    I can not wait for the commercials to take over. NASA has proven over and over again that it can not be tasked with designing launchers. The reason is politics.
    The shuttle was a bad design because it had to do tooo many things at once with technology that was not quite there yet.
    It had to be a heavy lifter, it had to be a space station, it had to be a orbital repair platform, it had to transport humans on top of all that and have a huge cross range so the DOD could use it for their black ops.
    All that resulted in a way to complicated design that was way to expensive to maintain and that had way to few missions in a year to even remotely justify this high maintenance cost.

    Constellation also is a bad design, also because of politics (feed money to certain lobbyists).
    It basically was a very expensive job creation programme. There are plenty of technical issues too. The 5 segment booster was causing severe vibration issues (to the point that they would be deadly for the crew). Compensation for this was a hack and it added more weight to a system that was already way overweight. Also, most people do not realize that Ares1 would have been a rocket without a mission for a long time. The constellation programme did not leave any money to keep ISS (and that was already put into motion by the previous administration). Since Ares 1 would have not flown (thanks to countless delays) before the ISS was to be downed, Ares1 would have been without a destination until AresV would have come online. Then the two would have allowed for a very, very expensive lunar exploration programme. Some time in 2020!!!
    So the problem with expensive is that it is no sustainable. It will, at some point, be cancelled, inevitably.
    In any case, Constellation was mainly designed as a government job programme. So certain people would continue to get their government pork.

    @ Messier Tidy Upper:
    In what way is Constellation even close to Apollo 4? In no way! There is NOTHING there in terms of final hardware, nothing. Ares 1X was a publicity stunt with a fake lower stage (4 segment booster instead of 5 segment bosster which it totally different because of the way the core burns) and a dummy second stage. There were no important lessons learned from this launch.
    It did not even reach orbit, but was only suborbital. Please do your research!
    So it is not too late to go back to the drawing board. They have not even bent metal yet (ok, not quite true, they have meanwhile groundtested a first prototype of the 5 segment booster).
    On the lunar base idea: Constellation would have made going to the moon to expensive to maintain a permanent lunar presence, period.
    You are saying that Constellation is all that we have got, but this is horsecrap. First of all, there is not Constellation yet. Please get that into your head! Secon, you forget the commercials like the ULA and the new capsule designed by Boeing. Third, we have the startups ala SpaceX. Between all these options, there should be some solution coming up very soon. SpaceX could fly way sooner than Ares1 would have.
    The commercial options would make that a lot cheaper than Ares1 would have been. All that will save money that should go into the development of enabling technologies, so future space flight can be cheap enough to make all those moon base and Mars dreams realistic.
    That was the administrations plan and it was based on the recommendations by an independend comission of experts (Augustine commission). So dont you forget that!

  33. DrFlimmer

    @ DennyMo

    I know, I know!

    That’s why I won’t feed that specific troll in those specific circumstances, again. ;)

  34. Ari

    Messier Tidy Upper (and others) – Sorry, but the continued execution of constallation that does not have anywhere near the funding available is useless. Budget constraints are real in this case and those realities need to be included in the baseline for there to be any chance of success.

    Of course that’s just my opinion so let’s consider this one:

    “Our first reaction on seeing the Vision Sand Chart was that we were appalled. There was no way we could do our job with that little amount of money, and to develop a new deep space system for that pittance was beyond belief. But we were good soldiers and went to work anyway”

    Wayne Hale – http://waynehale.wordpress.com/

    We can do better than ” we … went to work anyway”, this in fact is better.

  35. Ferris Valyn

    Messier Tidy Upper – Sorry, but you are wrong

    1. Large chunks of it aren’t even close to beginning construction. Altair is a long time off, Ares V is fairly far off. Orion isn’t terrible, so its worth keeping. But Ares I is also a long ways off (and it’ll cost to much to operate). Constellation is in no way at the equivelent of Apollo 4. We are years away from the first flight of either Ares I or Ares V.

    2. Obama’s didn’t rule out a return to the moon. Go listen to his speech – you’ll never hear him actually say we aren’t going to the moon. We just aren’t going to focus on that at the exclusion of everything else.

    3. Sorry, Shuttle & Ares/Constellation is NOT all we’ve got. We also have Atlas V, and Delta IV, which are already flying (which is more than you can say about Ares). As for “charity of the Private Sector” – my god that really pathetic. If you are looking at it that way, we are ALREADY dependent upon the “charity” of the private sector – NASA can’t build its own rockets. Hell, Shuttle is managed by United Space Allaince. Boeing was building the 2nd stage of Ares I, and will now be building capsules (kinda like how they built the ISS).

    The only real difference is whether NASA will be developing the vehicle, or private industry will. And guess what – private industry has been developing spacecraft along with NASA for a good long time. The only real question is whether those contracts are cost-plus with endless cost overruns, or whether they’ll be fixed price.

    Yes, I agree we need something flying. But following Obama’s proposal, we’ll have something flying much sooner. much much sooner.

    We already have the rockets flying (well, most of them)
    Unied Launch Alliance/Lockheed Martin Atlas V (already flying)
    United Launch Alliance/ Boeing Delta IV (already flying)
    SpaceX Falcon 9 (has started flying)
    Orbital Science Corporation Taurus 2 (will start flying next year)

    The capsules will be developed sooner
    SpaceX Dragon – unmanned first flight is this year
    Boeing/Bigelow CST-100 – Quite far along in the develpment process – first manned flight expected in 2015 or sooner
    Serria Nevada Corp Dreamchaser – Quite far along in the development process – first manned flight expected in 2015 also
    Orbital Science Corporation – first unmanned flight late next year, or early 2012

    BTW – Ares I-X WAS NOT A TEST OF ARES I. STOP REPEATING WHAT IS VERIFIABLE BULL****!!!

    Sorry, but that comment, I am really sick and tired of.

  36. Caleb Jones

    Just called my representative (Rick Larson (D) Washington). Didn’t speak to him directly, but his office says his vote is a likely ‘yes’.

    I’ll follow up on this via the “Congress” app on my Android phone (which is awesome by the way).

  37. Michael Wagner
  38. Phil,
    As for funding Shuttle through fiscal year ’11. That makes a lot of sense for the current manifest. If a rescue mission is required for the final flight, 134, or if they flight 135, they need to have the army ready to launch a shuttle in the beginning of summer (June 2011). That’s most of the fiscal year right there. Then, even though you’re done flying, you need to employ a lot of people to help shut the program down: clean up the orbiters for shipping to museums (which includes cleaning out all the toxic fuels inside them, etc). So I think it’s just a necessity, not a jobs program.

    – Ben H.
    Space City, TX

  39. Ken

    I emailed because I didn’t have the opportunity to call, so I hope this was alright. I’ve never contacted any state representative before (as I mentioned in the letter), and I filed it under the “Budget” issues category on her web site…

    ==========================================================
    Summary: Please, vote “Yes” on S.3729, the NASA Authorization Act of 2010!

    Congresswoman Giffords,

    First, I would like to apologize if I selected the wrong issue category for this message. This is the first time that I have ever attempted to contact any State representative by any means, but I feel that I must do so as this issue is very important to me.

    The funding that the Act will give NASA will fund jobs, and provide much needed monetary sustenance and vision for our Space Agency’s future.

    I believe that it is imperative to the future of mankind to further explore the cosmos. If we don’t, the future of the human race looks dim indeed.

    Without the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, what will our country do (in the large scheme of t hings) to further space exploration and human survivability? We need only look at the number of “close calls” that are here on our doorstep to realize that we are in dire need of getting ourselves up into that deep, dark ocean above to help us survive: countries playing with nuclear programs, asteroids that are getting too close for comfort (which may pass us now, but in some cases as time passes on have an increased probability to impact Earth), and communicable sicknesses and diseases, to list the least.

    Please, vote “Yes!” on this!

  40. Mark

    «For fiscal year 2011: $19,000,000,000
    For fiscal year 2012: $19,450,000,000
    For fiscal year 2013: $19,960,000,000»

    Can’t we just start using SI prefixes now? It helps to keep in mind the proportion to the rest of the government spending:
    FY2011: 19 G$ (nineteen gigadollars)
    FY2012: 19.45 G$ (nineteen-point-four-five gigadollars)
    FY2013: 19.96 G$ (nineteen-point-nine-six gigadollars)

  41. Ian

    So, is this more handouts to old space and legislation to ensure the new guys don’t stand a chance? IE: more pork for Boeing and Locmart? The last bill I read about was written by those guys.

    Or does it actually make sense?

    Dollars are nice, but does the bill MAKE SENSE? Phil?

  42. Ferris Valyn

    42 Ian

    Its a vast improvement over the original house bill (but then, used toilet paper was an improvement) , but its definitely not perfect. It still has removed significant monies from tech development, and commercial crew. And it has some restrictions that aren’t good.

  43. Chet Twarog

    Congress suspended rules and this bill passed with gtr than two thirds vote!

  44. Curt

    To read an article about the successful passage of the bill:

    Search Google News (or your favorite search engine),
    use keywords: S.3729 the NASA Authorization Act of 2010

    In the results, look for headline with word “passes.”

  45. Grand Lunar

    Yay, it passed!

    Now Obama has to sign the thing, right?
    Get it done, Mr. President.

  46. Jeff

    Again, this bill does not actually provide any funding. It establishes the congressional priorities for NASA. Funding for NASA will come later in an appropriations bill.

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