Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Far Side


A NASA promotional film simulating a Space Launch System launch at Kennedy Space Center. Video source: ReelNASA on YouTube.

A September 22 article by the Orlando Sentinel reporting that NASA is considering a new outpost at a Lagrangian point may be closer to reality.

Space.com reported on November 7 that, "The new plans have probably already been cleared with the Obama Administration but have been kept under wraps in case Republican candidate Mitt Romney won Tuesday night's (Nov. 6) presidential election, said space policy expert John Logsdon, a professor emeritus at George Washington University.

"NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan," Logsdon told SPACE.com. (The Earth-moon L2 is a so-called libration point where the two bodies' gravitational pulls roughly balance out, allowing spacecraft to essentially park there.)

"They've been holding off announcing that until after the election," Logsdon added, noting that Romney had pledged to reassess and possibly revise NASA's missions and direction.

2 comments:

  1. Is Mr Logsdon saying that with the fiscal cliff on the horizon, President Obama is instead going to draw attention to a lunar outpost next decade?

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  2. I took it as meaning that the L2 proposal will be included in the Fiscal Year 2014 proposed budget, which goes to Congress in February I think. It has to go through a vetting process internally within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget. The above statements suggest the L2 proposal has run that gauntlet.

    There would be no point in including the L2 mission in the FY14 budget proposal if Romney wasn't interested.

    Another reason to wait until then to announce it is that both the House and Senate need to determine committee memberships in the new session. The White House probably will want to brief space subcommittee leaders in advance of the budget submission, to avoid a fuss like in 2010 when Constellation was cancelled.

    It will be interesting to see how Congress reacts. The porkers loved SLS so long as it preserved jobs in their districts but NASA didn't ask for any money to actually fly it. Presented with the tab for flying the Senate Launch System, I suspect there will be much righteous indignation from the same people who've spent $3 billion a year building it.

    And as always, I remind everyone that the White House budget proposal is just that -- a proposal. Congress is free to ignore it, and usually does.

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