As if a quick rebuttal by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison, along with the Space Subcommittee Chairman Nelson and Ranking Member Vitter, of NASA’s recent Congressionally mandated report wasn’t enough of a heads-up for NASA and the White House, now comes the Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. In his statement, Chairman Ralph Hall says,
- “The report recently provided to Congress by NASA on its heavy lift development is only the beginning of a long conversation Congress will have with the Agency regarding the future of the human space flight program. It was this Administration that killed the Constellation program, which Congress had repeatedly endorsed. Instead of providing the resources that the Augustine Committee said were necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation, this Administration simply said it was unaffordable, choosing instead to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on other priorities.
‘We must work to restore U.S. capability to get American astronauts to and from the International Space Station, once the Shuttle is retired later this year, and I’m not convinced that the commercial market is ready to fill that role. If they should fail, we will have no option but to continue buying seats from the Russians, an option I find unacceptable.
‘Further, this afternoon the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report revealing that NASA continues to fund projects under the Constellation Program through the Federal Government’s Continuing Resolution. Some of these projects have been cancelled by the NASA Reauthorization Act of 2010, passed by Congress and signed into law in October, 2010. NASA should be taking steps to prioritize spending on projects that are likely to have applicability in a future heavy lift vehicle, in an effort to maintain production lines and reduce inefficient use of taxpayer funds. However, I agree with the NASA OIG that this is an issue that the Appropriators will need to deal with in an expedient manner, in order to avoid wasteful spending.
‘The Science, Space, and Technology Committee will be paying very close attention to NASA’s human spaceflight program and holding several hearings to provide strong Congressional oversight.”
AmericaSpace Note: Now the circle is complete with both the House and Senate Authorizing Committees making it abundantly clear to the Administration and its leadership at NASA that any attempt to slow-roll the HLV and Orion programs are going to be dealt with through aggressive oversight.
According to the first page of NASA’s report, “Guidance from the Administrator has established three principles for development of any future systems for exploration. These systems must be affordable, sustainable, and realistic.” And that is curious since, as is mentioned later on page 5 in the report, this guidance by the Administrator was in addition to that of Congress. While such concern by the NASA Administrator is charitable, that guidance is not what Congress requested in Section 309 of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.