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Pres. Obama still wants to end the Constellation space program, which will cost NASA millions

As NASA prepares to wind down its manned shuttle mission, the U.S. space agency is telling contractors to prepare for a slowdown in manned moon research.  In addition to the anticipated job loss, ending the Constellation program will cost NASA millions in cancellation fees on top of the billions already invested in the project.

Over the past five years, NASA has racked up $10 billion in space research and development to try and take astronauts back to the moon.  The most recent budget includes a clause put in by Congress to ensure that President Obama is unable to end the Constellation program without approval.

If Constellation ends, NASA believes as many as two-thirds of the current 7,800 contractors involved in the project could end up unemployed.  It'll cost almost $1 billion to pay cancellation costs to Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems, and other contractors currently working for NASA.

Neither company is expected to receive additional funds, but it's an issue that NASA needs to figure out.

"In a brief check with people more knowledgeable than me, NASA has never held contractors' liable for termination liability," said Dr. Scott Pace, former NASA associate administrator and Space Policy Institute Director.  “If this is to be the new agency policy and practice, then NASA should shift responsibility for termination liability on all of its current contracts, not simply Constellation.  “As it stands, this appears to be purposefully punitive against a specific set of NASA contractors.” 

Obama is expected to discuss the topic further with Congress and current space experts, but it's unknown what must be done for both sides to reach a working agreement.

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RE: 1969...
By MozeeToby on 6/14/2010 4:39:35 PM , Rating: 1
The answer to the cost question, at least part of it, is pork, pork, and more pork. Every senator and house rep pushing to have doodad number 1221234 manufactured in their home state, whether NASA actually wants doodad number 1221234 doesn't even enter into the equation.

Also, $10 billion is less than half what it cost for the Apollo program ($24+ billion) and the constellation would have been much more ambitious. They can't just go back and use the old designs for several reasons, first and foremost being that they don't have most of them, and the people who did the work have long, long since retired or even passed away.

RE: 1969...
By mellomonk on 6/14/2010 6:05:24 PM , Rating: 4
The $25 billion figure for the original Apollo program was in 1969 dollars. Adjusted for inflation that is around $152 billion in 2010. Apollo at it's peak funding (66') consumed 4% of the budget. A huge percentage by today's standards.

Constellation was moving fairly well, and there was a good deal of hardware built and work done. New engine test stands in MS, New production facilities and tooling, tow escape systems developed, launch pad remodeled, Orion design very far along, Aries 1 test article launched, new modular space suits developed, ect. It is not like most of this work is for not, for it lays a groundwork for whatever comes next, but it is a shame the program is derailed.

We can find $400+ billion to feed our voracious military/industrial complex and defend ourselves primarily from our own fears. Yet we can not find a few 10s of billions to reach for our dreams and move our country, and mankind forward. Sad.

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