CSF on Congress’ Commercial Crew Funding Cut: We Like It!

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“The next astronauts to fly to space from American soil will be on American-made, commercially-built rockets, and by continuing to advance the vital Commercial Crew Program in a time of tightening budgets, Congress has sent a strong signal that this is an important priority for NASA and for the nation.” [My emphasis]

– Michael Lopez-Alegria
President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
April 19, 2012

Strong signal? Really?

Apparently Congress’ decision to cut between $305 and $330 million from the President’s request for commercial crew, further delay the start of commercial operations, limit full American access to a space station we largely funded for God knows how much longer, and deepen our reliance on the Russians at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars is a good thing because this totally inadequate budget is higher than the even more woefully insufficient one Congress approved last year.

Good grief. I really expected much more from this group. It is the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, right?


The statement also includes a rather vague quote from CSF Chairman and Mitt Romney space adviser Eric Anderson about supporting ‘the highest possible funding level for Commercial Crew,” whatever the hell that means. So, is it a choice between the House’s totally insufficient $500 million budget and the Senate’s almost equally inadequate $525 million spending plan?

Read on…

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Supports Increased Budget for Commercial Crew Program

Washington D.C. (CSF PR) – The Senate Appropriations Committee has released details of its draft Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that provides $525 million for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program for the 2013 Fiscal Year, an increase from the $406 million provided in the final bill last year. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science draft bill provides $500 million for the program.

“Thousands of people poured out of office buildings across Washington DC this week to welcome the space shuttle Discovery to her new home, an inspiring reminder of how important the space program is to all Americans,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “The next astronauts to fly to space from American soil will be on American-made, commercially-built rockets, and by continuing to advance the vital Commercial Crew Program in a time of tightening budgets, Congress has sent a strong signal that this is an important priority for NASA and for the nation.”

A robustly funded Commercial Crew Program is the quickest way to restore America’s access to space and avoid spending taxpayer dollars buying flights from Russia. The amount of funding for the program has a direct impact on the date of entry into service for the commercial providers. NASA is currently spending about $400M annually launching six astronauts from Russia, with the price rising every year. A less expensive, American capability would bring that money home and allow for maximal utilization of the space station for science, industry and education, while creating high-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs across the country.

“As the House and Senate work to agree on appropriations for the upcoming year, we support the highest possible funding level for Commercial Crew,” said Commercial Spaceflight Federation Chairman Eric Anderson. “We look forward to working with Congress and NASA to reinstate America’s manned spaceflight capability as quickly as possible.”

The Commercial Crew program is using a staged competition for fixed-cost cooperative agreements and contracts to develop an American capability to deliver astronauts to low-Earth orbit. By including competition at all stages and leveraging private investment, it will save taxpayer money and allow NASA to invest in deep space exploration and scientific research.

  • warshawski

    The next step in Comercial Crew is testing hardware and that costs significant amounts of money. Reasonable testing requires each system to be tested then integrated and culminate in 2-3 un-manned flights including a boost phase abort followed by a final manned test flight. Each flight test would be approx $200 -300M plus additional funding for system test articles etc. Reducing the funding annual reduces the number of flight tests which then increases the time to bring it into service.
    There may be justification in down selecting to just the 2 most advanced teams provided they meet safety requirements but at least 2 are needed for competition and assurance of capability if one system has a failure.
    This announcment makes CST sound like an arm of the Romney political machine not an advicate of comercial space. If it was a proper advacate it would be demanding Congress fully fund the Comercial Crew funding request and preferably scrap SLS/Orion pork rocket to nowhere.

  • dr

    I assume that if the Republicans win the Presidency at the next Presidential election, then commercial crew will be struggling to survive.
    I think that would be a shame. To me this programme is one of the most important programmes that NASA have done in the past few years, because of the game changing possibilities that reduced cost to orbit can bring.