Aviation Week & Space Technology has this post, Obama Proposal Likely Unresolved This Year. It summarizes that the likely outcome of the President’s proposed changes to NASA is likely a continuing resolution or CR, not a big up-or-down vote by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, so the status quo antebellum will continue for some time.
When is a “no” a no? We would have to conclude that the White House would view a continuing resolution as a defeat since the President’s proposed “new” plan for NASA would be, at best, delayed. But a CR is certainly better than an actual defeat from an up-or-down vote, which would be the likely outcome should a vote get held. None-the-less, at some point the progress that Constellation makes while funded through a CR begins to erode the logic of the President’s new roadmap for human spaceflight. After all, under a CR Ares I and Orion will continue to evolve, even more metal, which is already being bent in both programs, will get worked, and at some point it’s faster and cheaper to field the Ares I/Orion than it would be to transition over to commercial launchers. That could happen as soon as late 2011, this time next year. And a CR would give the White House a graceful way to extract itself from the political and policy mess that is its proposed FY 2011 NASA Budget by submitting an FY 2012 NASA Budget that is more inline with what members of Congress are willing to accept.
Naturally, the ever erudite NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver would disagree with our take. As she recently stated, “We think this program is sustainable not only in terms of dollars but in terms of the public’s support, in making space exploration part of the national psyche again. We are changing the game. It’s no longer just about where we want to go, but why we want to go and what we want to achieve when we get there. This activity will lead to new opportunities for the economy, new knowledge and capabilities, and step-by-step progress toward far-reaching milestones. We’re stretching beyond barriers that have defined our limits for years.”
A “series of firsts” is no rationale or purpose for going somewhere. DA Garver’s intent from as early as 2004 has been to kill the Vision for Space Exploration and instead put us into something that is only sustainable because it lacks all firm commitment and makes the whole problem easier.
The article also summarizes NASA Administrator Bolden channelling his inner-Dick Cheney by using scare tactics on JSC employees when addressing them last week:
“Bolden told the advisory council it will take NASA as much as a year to compete and award new contracts to support the new initiative, creating an employment gap for many of the 11,500 personnel who now work on Constellation.
That gap will grow, he warns, if Congress reaches an impasse and decides to pass a continuing resolution.He blames dissension within the aerospace community for much of NASA’s legislative difficulties.”
Perhaps, General Bolden. But the fact is, the President, and by extension you, have proposed and now you and your President are at the mercy of Congress to dispose of this so-called “new” direction for NASA. So far, Congress does seem indeed willing to dispose of it and all of the fear in the world is unlikely to change that.