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NASA's Lori Garver  (Source: wikimedia.org)
NASA urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016

Lori Garver, NASA's deputy administrator, is pushing for increased funding for NASA's commercial crew vehicle development, or warns that the U.S. will be paying the Russians over the long-term instead.

The retirement of NASA's space shuttle fleet throughout 2011 has made U.S. astronauts dependent on Russia to travel to the International Space Station (ISS). The cost per seat for this rendezvous is estimated to increase to $63 million by 2015, and NASA is hoping to have commercial spaceships of its own to avoid having to pay the Russians. NASA is looking to Boeing Co., SpaceX, Blue Origin and Sierra Nevada Corp. for such spacecraft.

But these spacecraft developers will require assistance for the creation of NASA's request. NASA put aside $388 million to support such development, while the agency put forth another $800 million for spacecraft to be developed by SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corp.

But now, NASA is moving on to its next phase of its commercial crew vehicle development, and needs $850 million.

So far, Congress has put aside $312 million in the House and $500 million in the Senate.

Garver urged Congress to provide the full $850 million, because if it is not paid now, the U.S. will be forced to pay the Russians $450 million for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle starting in 2016.

According to Garver, paying U.S. companies the extra money needed now will outweigh having to pay the Russians $450 million per year in 2016 and beyond, which will obviously benefit the Russian space effort instead of the U.S.

But NASA's money troubles don't end there. Even if Congress comes up with $850 million in 2012, the cost of the commercial crew vehicle development will only increase as time goes on. Garver estimates that NASA will require $6 billion "over five years."

The next step is a hearing for funding the next phase, known as CCDev 3, next Wednesday. It was scheduled by the House Science Space and Technology Committee.

Source: MSNBC



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Realism
By monitorjbl on 10/23/2011 12:33:36 AM , Rating: 2
To begin, I wholly endorse government spending on research that has no potential for commercial or practical use. Science just works that way, sometimes seemingly useless research will be an invaluable stepping stone that someone will end up using to make something great.

HOWEVER, the accountants and managers at NASA have been consistently and balls-out ridiculously optimistic in the past. I really don't care that a commercial entity is the one doing most of the work; if they say it's going to cost in the neighborhood of 7 billion over 5 years, I'm going to ballpark a final cost of 40 billion over 10 years.

That being said, I still think we should give them what they're asking for and just plan around it being far more. As long as humans exist, there will always be poor, starving, and homeless, there will always be war, and there will always be politics. There will not always be enough resources left on Earth to support all of us, so we really ought to be expanding to other places. Getting a reliable, reusable, and (relatively) cheap orbital vehicle that private companies can use is a step towards that.




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