the space shuttle fleet and faces mounting problems related to the 2010
NASA Authorization Bill alongside other budget issues that have angered
politicians and citizens.
U.S. lawmakers are growing more concerned that NASA administrators could have
saved jobs and tax payer money as the mismanaged space launch system (SLS)
helps usher the U.S. space program into a new era.
NASA has been accused of stalling for the sake of trying to end the SLS
program, with the U.S. space agency also conducting its own internal review of
the SLS program.
"Due to unjustified, sometimes substantial future cost savings, the team
views each program estimate as optimistic," noted Booz Allen Hamilton, as
the U.S. space agency continues to face pressure to move forward.
completed, the SLS is expected to be a heavy launch vehicle able to enter
low-Earth orbit (LEO). Specifically, the new SLS rocket would be powered by Ares
I and space shuttle engines, though there has been added call for liquid-fueled
The finished report was expected earlier in the month, but NASA said it still
needs additional time before it can be released. Senate Majority Leader Harry
Reid and several other senators don't believe a private sector competition to
develop the future SLS will just lead to other future delays.
NASA has about $1.78 billion set aside for the SLS program during fiscal 2011,
but it ends on September 30. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the Senate Commerce,
Science and Transportation Committee ranking Republican, claims NASA's problems
with SLS have led to as many as 3,000 job losses since the shuttle program
Senators are still unsure how to help NASA unify its Ares I and Ares V space
vehicle plans, after the U.S. space agency ended the Constellation program.
SpaceX, Boeing, and two other contractors are currently working on U.S.
government-funded projects to develop new shuttle systems able to ferry
astronauts and supplies into space.
If there is so much money still up for grabs, representative states will make a
strong push to keep NASA focused on short-term projects. Until then,
it'll be up to the Russians to help take NASA astronauts and supplies into
space, though that costly alternative now faces its own problems.