Critics Blast House Spending Plan for NASA

Capitol Building
Well, the reviews are in for the House’s $16.6 billion spending plan for NASA. And they are not good:

“Absolutely lethal” to a balanced space program.
— Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL

“This proposal would challenge America’s preeminence in space exploration, technology, innovation, and scientific discovery…..The bill will jeopardize the success of the commercial crew program and ensure that we continue to outsource jobs to Russia.”
— David Weaver, NASA Associate Administrator for Communications

“Less funding for the commercial crew program simply equates to prolonged dependence on foreign launch providers.”
— Michael Lopez-Alegria, Commercial Spaceflight Federation President

Read the statements by Weaver and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation below.

David Weaver’s Blog Post

NASA LOGOToday, the House Appropriations Committee is marking up legislation to provide 2014 appropriations for NASA. While we appreciate the support of the Committee, we are deeply concerned that the bill under consideration would set our funding level significantly below the President’s request. This proposal would challenge America’s preeminence in space exploration, technology, innovation, and scientific discovery. We are especially concerned the bill cuts funding for space technology – the “seed corn” that allows the nation to conduct ever more capable and affordable space missions – and the innovative and cost-effective commercial crew program, which will break our sole dependence on foreign partners to get to the Space Station. The bill will jeopardize the success of the commercial crew program and ensure that we continue to outsource jobs to Russia.

In the coming months, NASA will continue to work with the Congress to move towards legislation that funds a balanced portfolio for NASA to spur economic growth here on Earth and maintain American preeminence in space exploration.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation Statement

csf_logo_newestWashington D.C. – Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved their Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that allocates Federal spending for many agencies, including NASA. Unfortunately, the bill reduces funding for two important national priorities—investment in space technology and in commercial space transportation—from NASA’s budget request.

“Less funding for the commercial crew program simply equates to prolonged dependence on foreign launch providers,” said Commercial Spaceflight Federation President, Michael Lopez-Alegria. “As a nation, we should be doing our utmost to regain the capability of putting astronauts in orbit on American vehicles as soon as possible.”

“NASA’s investment in space technology creates tremendous benefits for space exploration, for the space economy and here on the ground,” said Stuart Witt, Chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “It enables NASA’s exploration of the most distant reaches of our solar system, creates technologies that enable the next generation of commercial satellites and vehicles, and produces high-tech jobs here in America.”

“Though we believe this funding is inadequate, we understand the difficult allocation the House Appropriations Committee is working under,” said Alex Saltman, Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “We hope to work with the Committee to increase funding for the Commercial Crew and Space Technology programs as the appropriations process continues.”

Congress and the Administration have consistently identified commercial providers as a cost-effective, safe and reliable source of routine flights to low-Earth orbit, including transportation of cargo and NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The third round of the Commercial Crew program was awarded in July 2012, with three complete system designs chosen for further development. Because these are competitively awarded, fixed-price, milestone-based partnerships, NASA only pays for what is successfully developed.

NASA’s Commercial Crew program will enable American providers to cut dependence on the Russian Soyuz for crewed access to the International Space Station, a facility that American taxpayers have invested billions to build. NASA currently pays Moscow more than $60 million per seat to access the ISS, a price that is expected to rise above $70 million in the next few years.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is revitalizing innovation at NASA, demonstrating technologies that will allow future manned and unmanned missions to reach new destinations. America has always been on the forefront of space and technology, but countries like China and India are rapidly expanding their programs and looking to challenge the U.S. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is a key part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, facilitating the testing of new technologies and new modes of scientific research on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles.