Friday, December 18, 2009

White House, NASA: Obama Decision Still To Come

NASA and the White House today refuted a report that claimed President Obama decided in a meeting with NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden this week to ask Congress to fund a new heavy-lift launcher for missions beyond Earth orbit.

The article in the "Science Insider" blog at the web site of the journal Science -- a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- also indicated that NASA's embattled Ares I rocket project would be cancelled in favor of developing commercial crew transportation services.

NASA spokesman Morrie Goodman said the article was "speculation."

"This conversation (between Obama and Bolden) was not decisional at all," Goodman said. "It was informational."

White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro echoed that characterization and reiterated the statement released after Obama and Bolden met in the Oval Office on Wednesday.

"The President confirmed his commitment to human space exploration, and the goal of ensuring that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving our aspirations in space. Against a backdrop of serious challenges with the existing program, the Augustine Committee has offered several key findings and a range of options for how the nation might improve its future human space flight activities. The two spoke about the Administrator’s work at NASA and they also discussed the Augustine Committee’s analysis."

Check out the Science Insider blog item HERE.

Goodman and Shapiro said no decision has been made on the course Obama will chart for NASA.

"We don't know when the president is going to make his decision or how he will make know his decision, and we don't know what his decision will be," Goodman said.

In any case, Congress will have a say.

The House and Senate Committees on Appropriations reached agreement last week on bill that would require congressional approval of any changes to NASA's current Project Constellation.

The bill requires congressional approval of “any program termination or elimination or the creation of any new program, project or activity,” the committees said in a report.

"It clearly says that before anything is changed on Constellation, they are going to have to get that by the Congress," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson,D-Orlando, told Florida Today last week.

The report summarizes the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which combines six spending bills, including those that direct NASA spending.

NASA is developing the Ares I rocket and Orion spacecraft to transport astronauts and the Ares V heavy-lift launch vehicle to haul up large cargoes for human expeditions beyond Earth orbit.

A White House panel delivered a report in October that included eight human spaceflight options, six of which would kill the Ares I project.

The panel favored the development of commercial capability to launch astronauts on private sector space taxis that do not yet exist.


Gaetano Marano said...

assuming the Ares-1 can fly (but it CAN'T) do you really believe that over 35 billion$ can be spend to (just) develop a rocket, while the world is in a so deep economy crisis???

Anonymous said...

Gee. Ares I-X flow. It didn't even kill anyone Mr. GhostNASA. Disappointed? Maybe Ares I would work after all. And if it does, will you go back to playing WoW until mommy calls you to dinner? I forgot, after you turn 40 its Mom, right Gaetano?

Anonymous said...

And what is your basis for saying the Ares I can't fly? What facts do you have to back up such a statement? In fact the evidence points in the opposite direction, that the vehicle is now on a solid engineering basis, as shown by current design efforts and the successful Ares I-X flight.

Anonymous said...

I feel it is a sad situation in that we are heading backwards instead of forward. You have a vehicle that not only houses 7 crew members, takes payload and most important LANDS ON A RUNWAY!
I can't imagine having to ride at the top of a rocket as in the Apollo days and being dumped in the middle of the ocean. Or to make matters worse hitch a ride with the Russians. C'mon NASA, get your thinking caps on. Truly you are not thinking!!!