As reported by Amy Klamper of Space News in, Bill Would Direct NASA to Begin Work on Heavy lift Rocket Next Year, compromise language seems to be coalescing within the Senate around continuation of Ares I, leveraging of the Orion investment, and beginning of an Ares V DDTE (design, development, testing, & evaluation) by 2011 rather than 2015. The compromise continues ISS until 2020, per the administration’s request, and also continues the investment in commercial cargo transport to ISS, along with a more guarded approach to priming the commercial human space flight efforts, which the White House and its high-ranking supporters have claimed as essential to their own proposed, oft criticized, direction for America’s human spaceflight program.
We are encouraged by the start of concrete actions within Congress to move forward with a compromise rather than to continually debate the motions of the current administration. The recent unilateral actions by the NASA HQ administration regarding NASA’s new-found, up-to-now unheard-of, and never-before-seen awareness in adhering to the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA), has left us cynical about their willingness to compromise. This seems more like a roundabout way to sidestep the law intended to retain Constellation until Congress signs off on a different direction for NASA. Certainly, that seems the case for the unceremonious and sudden horizontal transfer of Constellation head Jeff Hanley, likely because he was doing too good of a job (better than the current NASA leadership) at re-orienting Constellation to address the goals of the White House and the joint interests of Congress.
We hope that the administration will work with the Congress to push forward this compromise rather than to covertly continue to eat away at our nation’s space program and the billions of dollars in investment that we have made in a bi-partisan manner since the inception of the Vision for Space Exploration, which we must remind everyone was based on decades of lessons learned in spaceflight and at the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board. And we hope that Congress will commit to fully fund whatever direction is decided upon so that the new compromise program may proceed as envisioned.
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