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NASA Decision Afoot in Congress?

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral. Credit: SpaceX

The US House of Representatives are preparing to vote on H.R. 5781, their version of NASA’s $19 billion budget authorization for fiscal year 2011, and several groups are calling for a “no” vote, or at the very least, a delay in the vote, currently scheduled for Friday, July 30. The House version would cut much of the proposed money for commercial space development and game-changing technology development, while putting more money towards a NASA-built rocket. There’s a lot being written about this …

Here are some great articles/resources to check out:

Space Politics by Jeff Foust shares an email from SpaceX founder Elon Musk asking for US citizens to contact their representatives to vote no. (There are instructions there on how to contact your representative, as well).

The Planetary Society put out a press release asking for a delay in the vote until there’s been more discussion and debate.

Alan Boyle at MSNBC writes about the “Showdown Over Space Policy”

More on the inside stuff going on in Washington regarding NASA from Space News.

If you are undecided, take a look at this comparison of the House and Senate versions of the bill from The Space Foundation.

Rand Simberg from Popular Mechanics asks, “Is NASA being set up to fail again?”

Irene Klotz at Discovery Space uncovered some stealth funding for Constellation hidden in a bill regarding the war in Afghanistan.

The people behind the DIRECT launcher call for support of the Senate version of the bill, not the House’s.

ADDED on 7/30/2010:

Space News now reports that a vote on the NASA bill appears unlikely until September.

Here’s a pdf letter from two unions, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Employees (IFPTE) and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) who both oppose the House NASA Reauthorization bill, HR 5781.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • high_school_astronomer July 29, 2010, 5:05 PM

    Uck, the stupidity. I can not believe that the government wants to risk more tax dollars by developing their own rocket when there are private companies which can do it for them. This is going to hold US space exploration back at least 10 years. If space is ever going to be accessible to colonization and commercial development we are going to need private enterprise and competition. At this point I think I’ll just wait until 2020 to see if Reaction Engines Limited can develop their SSTO spaceplane. Maybe that will finally bring the space agencies to their senses.

  • TerryG July 30, 2010, 1:41 AM

    Have a giggle and treat yourself to yesterdays Colbert Report interview with guest Elon Musk of SpaceX.
    Then, if you are For or Against, an enthusiast or a sceptic, please write to your representative about the Space bill anyway. Holding politicians to account is the only way you can get the best Space value for your tax dollars.
    Thanks UT for choosing this story.

  • Aqua July 29, 2010, 7:34 PM

    Ditto on that Uck… or rather UGH! One can see the PORK flying already! Big Biz no doubt has a major hand in this. Ask Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch(et) and his (Morton Thiokol, Aerojet) lobby connections about that! Morton Thiokol has made BILLIONS $$$ building the shuttle SRB’s, the Minuteman booster and others…. THEY have nearly unlimited resources to destabilize competing commercial interests. NO FAIR! Maintaining a near monopoly is the name of that game!

  • Aqua July 29, 2010, 7:55 PM

    oTay… I just wrote to my congresswoman, Lynn Woolsey and the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi concerning this matter.

    COME ON EVERYBODY! NOW is the time to write! MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM July 29, 2010, 11:30 PM

    “Is NASA being set up to fail again?”

    Of course, too bad. “Pork in Space” with USS Swinetrek flies on. But in low orbit, at most.

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM July 30, 2010, 12:02 AM

    Also, the stealth bill that saves Constellation form cancellation during 2010 is binding hands behind backs.

  • Salacious July 30, 2010, 5:22 AM

    A current $1.47 trillion in debt and the US wants to hang on to its glory days!! Fix your economy first, else the rest of the world will be selling your assets at rock bottom prices when the country defaults!

  • Aqua July 30, 2010, 7:25 AM

    @Salacious – The idea is to STIMULATE the high tech sector of the economy while getting fed. money out of the hands of the entrenched cold war ‘old school’ industries . AND there is always the possibility that we may find untold wealth on the moon or NEO’s which should not be underestimated.

  • TerryG July 30, 2010, 7:30 AM

    Making the US Space programme more sustainable by a) introducing NASA’s new commercial partners to reduce LEO operating costs, b) abandoning Constellation and c) budgeting for R&D on new technologies doesn’t sound like “hanging onto glory days” or wrecking the economy.

  • Aqua July 30, 2010, 8:28 AM

    @TERRYG – Thanks for the link to the Colbert Repore (His pronunciation). Elon Musk cames off SO MUCH better then say, Neil Young’s interview ~ Colbert’s comments about Richard Bronson’s attraction to/by the opposite sex ($$$) didn’t phase Elon – who is going through a rather nasty divorce. In FACT it may help him get a little ‘trim’? LOL!

    Bottom line? GO SPACE-X!

  • Torbjorn Larsson OM July 30, 2010, 8:34 AM

    TerryG, terryfic tip!

    [The linked video doesn’t work outside US, but one can google the interview. Since there may be copyright problems, I can’t give any specific link. Bummer.]

    It was LOL, and Musk has a keen if not flamboyant sense of humor. Actually I think it was Colbert who was a little off beat – obviously in private Elon Musk is Tony Stark!

  • Astrofiend July 31, 2010, 12:25 AM

    Corrupt morons. They’re dooming NASA to mere mediocrity, which is tragic beyond all reckoning.

  • rudeyd August 2, 2010, 7:04 PM

    Think real hard about what the Obama new “direction” for Space means before saying that NASA building a new rocket is a bad idea. NASA is THE reason we are the great Space Nation we are, and like Astrofiend states, Obama wants to make NASA a second or third class entity??? OBAMA is a MORONIC ASSWIPE for even considering to take NASA out of the loop in any fashion! Yeah, I said it, and any self respecting Space/Science fan knows it’s true!!
    He is showing and proving his inexperience and naivety. His “people” are poser yes men with out back bones also. Either that, or they are all smoking crack! You make the call…….

    Come on and THINK!!!!

    With out NASA in the loop, the “commercial” enterprises are throwing darts at OUR grand vision to make money. They will not be concerned about science or exploration. Much – if at all.

    AND – they have ZERO experience with everything Space. ZERO – meaning many people will probably die while they get their feet wet.. NASA has to be involved in every stage of development. No one else on the planet except Russia has 50 years experience, and do you really believe that American companies will bother to even try to get help from Energia? Russia is also leaning heavily toward mining the Moon, so money is extremely high on that agenda as well. Making money is not a bad thing for the eventual Space adventure, it is inevitable anyway. BUT, SCIENCE should always be the focal point like it has been – this is the best time in history to be a Space and Cosmology fanatic. Now is not the time to veer off course like we did 40 years ago with the end of Apollo. We will be paying for that mistake until the end of mankind.
    Obama has only one objective and that is his place in history by putting his finger prints on as much as possible. He was working on his presidential library and next book before he took the oath in January 2009, and he will be heavily consumed by it on a daily basis until he leaves office.
    Every person in this country that wants to see the United States of America STAY on top of the Science of Space and Cosmology should vote him out of office in 2012. 4 years of his mistakes we can get over rather quickly. An additional 4 years of him will crush our Space program.
    REMEMBER PEOPLE – IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SCIENCE!!! The science is all that matters, period!

  • rudeyd August 2, 2010, 7:21 PM

    I whole heartedly agree with bringing down costs and developing new propulsion systems and everything to stream line the system and make it more cost effective and cost efficient.

    HOWEVER, tying NASA’s hands or leaving them out of the procedure in any form is absolutely the wrong way to do it.
    You can force a Tax funded organization to get more efficient and still keep them on top where they belong and have been.
    I recently read an article that stated NASA did NOT need a budget increase in the next two years and could still get to Mars in the time frame stated by President Bush. If that is the case, HOLD THEM TO THE COMMITMENT!!!
    Of course that would mean Russia and all the other countries taking over the Space Station responsibilities completely for a few years so NASA can devote ALL it’s time, money and effort to the Mars landing. That means getting back to the Moon first, and – that would also mean a new rocket and crew vehicle ect. But I think NASA is in serious need of an Apollo/Moon Landing type challenge anyway.

    So is the rest of the world.

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