Tricksy politicians vs NASA


Thanks for the holiday contribs guys (I’m sorry, Christmas contribs, since holidays is a bad word now). I had a little PC malfunction yesterday but it seems to be barely working, now, after messing with it endlessly. Man I’m so sick of being poor, but at least I go to the doc today for what I expect will be some decent news. I wouldn’t even be able to afford that appointment if it wasn’t for you guys.

Here’s an example of how tricky ledge can be, this little bill will probably get passed by being attached to a much larger CR that both the GOP and WH want to see go through, lest there’s another crisis right in the middle of the holidays (Sorry, Christmas):

Parabolic Arc — Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) has introduced a measure that would prevent the Obama Administration and any future president from canceling the Space Launch System and Orion crew vehicle programs without Congressional approval while freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars to be applied to those programs.

Bill H.R. 3625 targets terminal liability funds that Orion and SLS contractors are holding in reserve in case the government decides to cancel these programs for convenience. The measure says that “hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are unavailable for meaningful work on these programs.” The measure would void any provisions in existing contracts that set aside termination liability funds, and prohibit the Administration from canceling these programs without Congressional approval.

If Congress agreed to the cancellation, it would authorize additional expenditures to cover termination costs at that time. Brooks has been a major supporter of both programs. He represents Huntsville, Ala., where the SLS is being designed at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The bill says that the SLS and Orion programs — which are receiving a combined $3 billion annually — have been underfunded and are running behind schedule. And, in any event, program cancellations are rare.

First of all, Brooks is right: they are underfunded and behind schedule. They’re going to stay underfunded and behind schedule because there’s no way in hell those systems can be completed on $3 billion a year anytime soon. The SLS is basically a jobs program, where the end goal a decade or more down the road, if everything goes as expected with no snags, is developing the lift capacity that will take us to the moon Apollo style …  like we did almost 50 years ago.

There’s many factions within NASA. But once this gets out I think a lot of them are going to be pissed. Because what this bill also does, if I’m reading the language right, is make all other NASA programs absorb any cost over runs from the protected trinity, ISS, SLS, and Orion. Which are a certainty especially for Orion and even more so for SLS. Which means everything from earth sciences to Mars to funding for things like New Horizons beyond Pluto could suffer. It’s also one of those cases where Big Gubmit Pork is suddenly sensible spending at the expense of all else, provided it’s in your district.


  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Konstantin Tsiolkovsky famously said :

    “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”

    In 1969 we took one giant leap for Humanity. We landed on the Moon six times.

    Then we fell backwards and have sat on our butts or metaphorically crawled around the edge of the cradle ever since.

    I, for one, find this incredibly sad and frustrating.

    More politics, more bean-counting, more weaselly manouvres that don’t take us anywhere .. Arrrghhh!!!

    The money spent on NASA is something like one half of one percent of the US budget and it does so much good indirectly and directly. NASA and space exploration, incl,. human space exploration offers and gives so much to the world and the money is, of course, spent on Earth and not “wasted” – certainly not “wasted” anymore than money spent on arts and sports and politicians salaries and bank bail outs and so many other things that any one of us could name.

  2. Trebuchet says

    My usual rant: If you think that other NASA space programs have suffered, take a look at what’s happened to that first “A”. Aeronautics and Space should not be the same agency.

Leave a Reply