Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Posey Says NASA Funding Tied to Exploration Destination

Rep. Bill Posey's district includes Cape Canaveral Air Force Station but not Kennedy Space Center.

Space Coast congressional Rep. Bill Posey was the featured speaker yesterday at the monthly meeting of the National Space Club. Posey's district includes Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Rep. Sandy Adams, whose district includes Kennedy Space Center, was also announced as a guest speaker but did not show.

According to the Florida Today report of the luncheon, Adams did not attend "because of a family matter."

The newspaper report quotes Posey as insulting NASA management, calling them "arrogant, petulant and defiant."

There are only a few dozen House members committed to the cause of human spaceflight, by Posey's reckoning, with "a whole lot more that we need to transform or convert."

That task was made harder, he argued, by NASA's refusal to release plans for building a heavy-lift exploration rocket that Congress requested by 2016, or to set specific destinations and timelines for those missions.

That "exploration rocket," the Space Launch System, was dictated and designed by the Senate's space subcommittee in 2010 as a means of preserving space jobs in their districts. It was approved by Congress as part of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden recently told Congress that he would release the design after completion of an independent cost assessment by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

According to an August 5 Orlando Sentinel report, internally NASA has estimated the cost of SLS at $38 billion through the end of the decade. The independent review is "expected in mid-August, and even agency insiders expect Booz Allen Hamilton to come back with a higher price tag given NASA's history of lowballing initial cost estimates."

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Posey's Republican colleague in the House, was quoted in the Sentinel article as criticizing SLS.

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a frequent NASA critic, said the money would be better spent by investing in commercial rocket companies or converting existing military rockets — rather than recycling equipment from NASA's scrap yard.

"This is an absolute waste of borrowed money," said Rohrabacher in a statement, who added that "for much, much less than $38 billion" NASA could invest in new technologies — such as orbiting fuel depots — that would help NASA use military or commercial rockets and "explore the solar system with our existing American launch vehicle fleet."

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