There have been complaints by NASA engineers on the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV, or Orion) and the Space Launch System (SLS) programs who, in the course of reporting to NASA Headquarters, get the distinct impression that NASA’s leadership is trying to slow-roll their efforts. Apparently, 7 months after the 2010 NASA Authorization Act was signed into law, Congress is beginning to feel the same way. And Congress has had its fill of gobbledygook from NASA.
As reported by Space News in Lawmakers Demand Documentation on NASA’s Compliance with Law, not only did Senators Rockefeller and Hutchison, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the full Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Senators Nelson and Boozman, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Science and Space Subcommittee, demand in their May 18th letter to NASA Administrator Bolden, documentation, they took the extraordinary step of, beginning May 30th until further notice, “…requesting bi-monthly briefings and detailed information documenting what steps NASA is taking to comply with the law.” If there was any doubt about how the Senate Authorizers felt concerning NASA’s execution of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act in general, or the crewed spacecraft and heavy-lift launcher in particular, the May 18th letter (posted on Marcia Smith’s SpacePolicyOnline.com) should demonstrate that the Senate does not trust NASA’s leaders to follow the law.
More worrisome for NASA’s leadership, the May 18th letter’s specificity regarding implementation, communication and documentation of both the new crew spacecraft and launcher indicates that the Senate staffers are being advised regarding how those programs are being hindered. Given the lack of affection, no…the better term would be hostility, felt by NASA civil servants for their leadership, it would not take a giant leap of courage for some civil servant to help Senate and House staffers find where the skeletons are buried.
AmericaSpace Note: If you are a NASA civil servant who wants to contact Congress regarding NASA leadership’s unwillingness to pursuit the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle or the Space Launch System as required by law, but you are unsure of how to open a channel to Congress, drop us a line.