According to comments by NASA Deputy Administrator Garver, as reported by Space News’ Amy Klamper in NASA Deputy Recounts Fight for Commercial Crew Backing, and NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Doug Cooke, as reported by Aviation Week’s Frank Morring in Constellation Dead But Pieces Live On, the Moon is no longer the goal and Constellation is done, although pieces of it such as the Orion crew vehicle, J-2X engine, and 5-segment solid rocket motor live on.
As both articles note, the Appropriations bills from either house of Congress have yet to be approved. So, while the 2010 NASA Authorization Act outlines for the appropriators what the spending priorities for NASA should be, the appropriators are free to fund NASA as they wish. Signaling that the Obama Administration is keenly aware of this, Deputy Administrator Garver, when speaking about the process that led up to the vote in both houses of Congress to approve S. 3729, termed the upcoming mid-term elections as critical, “This happened in what is perhaps one of the most tense political months in years leading up to one of the most critical elections in our lifetimes.” We couldn’t agree more that the mid-term elections are very critical.
Should the House move to the Republicans, the most immediate change will be very likely that no budget is passed for NASA during the remaining days of the lame-duck Congress. After all, a change of leadership power in Congress could mean new funding priorities for NASA. Certainly, the new House Appropriators will want to make their mark on how NASA is funded.
However, given the strong bipartisan support for NASA in both houses, it is doubtful that a change in Congressional leadership will result in dramatic changes in either support of, or funding for, NASA.