Thursday, December 10, 2009

House discusses workforce impact of NASA funding

The U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology is beginning a hearing titled "Decisions on the Future Direction and Funding for NASA: What Will They Mean for the U.S. Aerospace Workforce and Industrial Base?"

You can follow the hearing via Webcast and Twitter updates.

Click on the witnesses' names to read their testimony:
-- Richard Aubrecht, Vice President, Strategy and Technology, Moog Inc.
-- Marion C. Blakey, President and CEO, Aerospace Industries Association
-- David Thompson, President, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
-- A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Ret.)

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, chairwoman of the subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, offered this opening statement.

Click here to read a story in today's Florida Today about a Congressional deal to provide NASA $18.7 billion in 2010, $942 million more than in 2009.

Human spaceflight projects would receive $3.8 billion in 2010, House and Senate appropriations committees reported.


loutefre said...

Florida republicans and central Florida's chamber of commerce dose not favor government funding Jobs. Its OK with them that we do Not receive stimulus money or Job creation funds from Obama. On our space coast local elected office holders in Florida's legislature oppose Jobs money. They are on record saying they would prefer Tax cuts for the top 1% of our wealthy citizens to let their gains trickle down to create Jobs. And let space flight workers at the cape compete in the global market. In fact Florida has pasted legislation to outsource Floridian jobs.

Patrick said...

Ya gets what ya votes for ! :)

kommenter said...

I am hoping one of the other readers on this website or even better one of the great space reporters from Florida Today can answer some questions.

There is clearly an issue with the level of funding for the US space program and its implications for employment.

But we are spending significant amounts of money on the Russian space program. Maybe someone can confirm this but I read that the Russians charge us $51 mm to send astronauts up on a Soyuz capsule. (Is that round trip or one way?) We also have to pay for the European and Japanese astronauts too. If there are two 6-person crews annually and each has two Russian cosmonauts that means we have to fund 8 astronauts annually at a cost of $408 mm. If we will not have a capability to launch astronauts for 3 years (SpaceX's timeframe which I believe to be the earliest US alternative), we are spending $1.2 billion with the Russians. Could this money be better spent in the U.S. If you don't believe in SpaceX, add two more years and another $816 mm to the equation while we wait for Orion.

Could NASA get Orion ready in two years with $1.2 bn extra and we let the Russians caretake the ISS?

Could SpaceX get a human rated spacecraft ready in one year with $1.2 bn? They say their biggest hurdle is developing a launch abort rocket. What if NASA adapted the system Orbital Sciences has developed for Orion?

Could we get the x38 emergency escape pod operational for $1.2 billion and use the shuttle for crew transport twice a year, with the added benefit of more cargo capability and the ability to return failed components for refurbishment? I found an article on the web that said it would cost $50 mm more to finish x38 testing. Although this has probably gone up since the vehicle has been mothballed. Why can't we stretch out the remaining shuttle flights as well, it seems as if the cargo is not urgently needed, especially the ICC spare parts platforms.

We are holding the US commercial companies to US human rating standards, but did we ever make Soyuz achieve US human rating standards before we decided to commit all of our human spaceflight budget to them for several years. If we are willing to accept greater risk by flying astronauts on Russian rockets that do not meet our human rated standards, why not fly them on U.S. expendable rockets that also meet lower standards? Why the pro-Russian, anti-American bias?

It seems to me that the goal of our space program is to further US technological capability in space. Can the $1.2 bn be better spent to achieve this goal. Perhaps this would not be spent with NASA, but with SpaceX or Boeing or some other US entity. But wouldn't that be better than spending it on the Russians?

I would love to hear other readers comments and would really love to see Florida Today question our reliance on the Russian.

Anonymous said...

What practical value will American taxpayers get after spending over $100B on Constellation?

Most of the panelists are contractors for Constellation, so it's obvious they will claim it's a good idea. In contrast, the Augustine commission recommended the Ares be scrapped. The contractors responded by lobbying for a law that prohibits the administration from canceling Constellation unless Congress agrees, which will be almost impossible.

This may be the end for Shuttle, just as it has finally begun to operate reliably and efficiently.

Finally, I think it's plain silly to suggest that we need to spend $100B on Constellation because we don't have enough engineering students. With better high schools and elementary schools, better and more stable jobs, and scholarships for talented students who can no longer afford the ballooning tuition at state universities. And we need jobs in industries that produce useful products that can be exported. There was a time when every project of NASA (then called NACA) was intended to be of practical value to aviation.