Two Florida papers criticized Congress on Sunday for cutting the Fiscal Year 2012 commercial crew budget by more than half.
The Orlando Sentinel commented:
Almost three weeks ago, at Kennedy Space Center, government and business leaders celebrated the prospect of a return to U.S. manned space flight within four years and more than 500 new jobs.
That was before Congress got hold of NASA's budget. Now it's the Russians who can celebrate.
Florida Today columnist John Kelly wrote:
It’s becoming clear that members of Congress are more committed to big public projects promising substantial clusters of jobs at big NASA centers than investing in private space entrepreneurs. As NASA leaders and some in Congress pointed out, that means another three, five or even more years of paying the Russians to deliver U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station. And, it means no backup for the Russian space transportation system that recently failed once and forced a temporary reduction in the crew of the orbiting outpost. That’s a big risk for such a huge worldwide investment.
Last night I watched live on the NASA Channel the return of Expedition 29 crew members on the Soyuz TMA-02M vehicle. In the back of my mind, I thought about the consequence of a disastrous loss that might shut down Soyuz indefinitely. How would Congress react? Would they realize their mistake and immediately appropriate an increase for commercial crew development?
I suspect we would have heard more rhetoric about how Space Launch System is actually a "backup" for commercial crew, to justify more SLS funding and therefore pork to their districts.
The high-wire act performed during each Soyuz launch and landing only reminds us of how little Congress truly cares about human space flight.