Print 34 comment(s) - last by Manch.. on Nov 22 at 3:54 AM

NASA MPCV  (Source:
A reduction in funding from Congress has bumped testing from 2015 to 2017

NASA has announced that commercial space flights will be delayed until 2017 due to decreased funding for its commercial partnership.

In a hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee's Subcommittee on Science and Space last week, Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, revealed that commercial space flights will be delayed two years.

Last month, NASA requested $850 million for its next phase of its commercial crew vehicle development. The effort is expected to give the U.S. a lift to the International Space Station (ISS) and beyond without having to depend on Russia, which has been the case since the retirement of NASA's space shuttle program earlier this year.

NASA has been urging Congress to fork over the $850 million because the cost for a U.S. astronaut to ride along with the Russians is expected to increase to $63 million per seat by 2015. In addition, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said that the U.S. would have to pay the Russians $450 million annually for every year that the U.S. delays its own commercial crew vehicle development.

The plan was to send the first NASA commercial crew vehicle for testing in 2015 and to the ISS by 2016. But since Congress has only dished out $500 million of the $850 million requested, Bolden announced that the commercial crew vehicle development will be delayed two years to 2017.

"A reduction in funding from the president's request could significantly impact the program's schedule, risk, posture, and acquisition strategy," said Bolden.

Despite this delay, Bolden noted that NASA will continue working diligently on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and Space Launch System (SLS). The MPCV will be used to transport a crew from Earth to a desired destination such as Mars, and can carry up to four people for 21 days. NASA is also looking to send astronauts deeper into space than ever before.

NASA will test the system without a crew in 2017, and test the system with a crew in 2021.

Sources: Florida Today, Information Week

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RE: Typical Senate.
By kattanna on 11/21/2011 11:33:09 AM , Rating: 4
i have long wondered if it wouldnt be better to bring NASA in under the military, say the air force. Then they might be able to do some actual long term planning like can be done with new military projects.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Manch on 11/21/2011 12:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
see: F-22, F-35, ABL, KC-X... I could go on and on but you get the idea. The AF doesnt have a great track record when it comes to handling large projects. NASA would be worse off under the AF than it is now. While the AF already has it's own Space Command, the civillian side of things would suffer greatly if you were to merge the two since it would rarely take precendence.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Shig on 11/21/2011 12:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
I think public funding for space is almost over for the US. Private industry is quickly taking over, which could be a very scary thing. Private industry in our country cares about one thing, the next quarterly statement, nothing more.

Could we have a manned base on the moon? Sure we could, it would just cost 10+ billion dollars with no return to the average tax payer. Could we get a man to mars? Sure we could, it would just cost 100+ billion dollars with no return to the average tax payer.

'Space exploration' at this point in time is basically who can get a functioning satelite to geosyncronous orbit at the lowest cost, nothing more really. Or a basic ferry mission between earth and the ISS for research that our 'Democracy' thinks no one wants or needs because it isn't immediately profitable.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Manch on 11/21/2011 12:45:45 PM , Rating: 3
Isnt that crew capsule supposed to be flying on top of the private industries rockets? A lot of that funding NASA lost would have went to those "private" companies to develop/create parts for the capsule. The private industry is still heavily subsidized by the Government. The Gov is also the #1 customer of private industry. Of all the government funded projects, this is one i think we should keep. I would prefer they spend my tax dollars on this vs subsidizing things like solyndra, ethanol, $450 a gallon bio-deisel, electric cars, and other crap that does nothing for us.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Reclaimer77 on 11/21/2011 12:52:22 PM , Rating: 2
Private industry in our country cares about one thing, the next quarterly statement, nothing more.

That's not, in of itself, a negative thing. The biggest business on the PLANET is Government, please try to keep that in mind when comparing the private sector with government. I've never once heard of private industry printing up their own money to spend either.

Could we have a manned base on the moon? Sure we could, it would just cost 10+ billion dollars with no return to the average tax payer. Could we get a man to mars? Sure we could, it would just cost 100+ billion dollars with no return to the average tax payer.

So closed minded....

RE: Typical Senate.
By geddarkstorm on 11/21/2011 1:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
Dangerously short sighted is the way I'd put it.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Jeffk464 on 11/21/2011 8:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes but private industry doesn't care about building a moon base, they care about making money. So unless they can make more money doing that than something else they wont do it.

RE: Typical Senate.
By kattanna on 11/21/2011 12:51:38 PM , Rating: 2
see: F-22, F-35,

actually those play into exactly what im talking about. even though there are issues currently, they are continuing on with the program.

also b-52 and kc-135, along with many others show just how long term they can think and work with a program, which is exactly what space needs, long term vision and follow through.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Reclaimer77 on 11/21/2011 9:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
I don't really like seeing the F-22 on that list. It's, you know, only the greatest fighter aircraft ever wrought by mankind. Not sure how you can produce that and claim they have a poor track record, especially given past successes.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Ringold on 11/21/2011 11:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well, a technological marvel it may be, but it also ended up being so expensive that, pending an 11th hour change of heart, the production is being shut down with a small fraction of the number originally planned being bought. Like the Shuttle; a marvel of its time, but over budget and too expensive.

At least for this low earth orbit part of NASA's portfolio, military ownership wouldn't work. The military has no better concept of cost savings then NASA, which is partly why NASA's trying to develop commercial partners for this part.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Reclaimer77 on 11/21/2011 11:39:02 PM , Rating: 2
Well I don't know how you push the envelope and develop something like the F-22 on the cheap. But isn't the F-35 costing more and is far less capable?

As far as the Shuttle being "too expensive"..compared to what? There was nothing even in the same league.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Ringold on 11/21/2011 11:42:46 PM , Rating: 1
Good point. For going to Mars, for example, you're right. No way to do it cheap.

I was thinking only about low earth orbit work for now. It's been done for ages, the technology is more accessible now to private enterprise, and they're doing it better then NASA or the military ever could.

But for big projects, beyond the scope of anything thats been done before, you're right. Thats the realm of government.. at least, since Jeff Bezos is just a billionaire, not a trillionaire.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Manch on 11/22/2011 3:54:43 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not bashing the F-22 itself, although it has had its fair share of teething problems, most new platforms do. I used to watch them every week during my smoke breaks. They're amazing planes! My issue is with how they handled the program. because of there poor management, we ended up with far fewer than we needed. I question it's usefulness at the low numbers we currently have. So to me ultimately its a high capability/limited asset that cost more than it's worth. It will not be able to replace the F-15 like it was intended and the F-35 is a poor substitute. As much as those damn things cost, we should have purchased more F-22's. Allowing the production lines to shut down was just plain stupid. Also, because we have so few, losing one during training, etc is extremely costly, not to mention the price of the block upgrades will be astronomical. In the long run we just cost ourselves more money, because we still need to replace our F-15 fleet.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Yames on 11/21/2011 12:57:56 PM , Rating: 3
Being a non-military agency gives us the ability to "crash" land and conduct other business as needed with outside countries without it being seen as a possible military action. Could you imagine a joint effort between the US and Russia militaries like the Space Station?

RE: Typical Senate.
By Ringold on 11/21/2011 11:31:42 PM , Rating: 2
I can, actually. The last Apollo mission in 1975 was a docking mission with a Soviet Soyuz, when NASA was pretty much still an extension of the military, stocked full of military test pilots and engineers who probably cut their teeth working on ICBMs. Wiki talks about detente, which kinda glosses over the fact Brezhnev was bankrolling the guerrillas in Vietnam and it was either he or Khrushchev that said later in life he was entirely willing to nuke NYC, not to start all-out nuclear war but just, ya know, give us a black eye.

Further, a lot of communication between states, especially when tensions are high or formal diplomatic ties dont exist, take place military-to-military. They can be the last to break down.

As for as cooperation goes, I think the military would neither help nor hinder in terms of working with anyone that matters. Some of those that dont, just want money, be it from a "civilian" NASA or a military one. And the rest, well, who cares about Iran.

RE: Typical Senate.
By lowsidex2 on 11/21/2011 1:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
Hell, the air force already has the vehicle in the X37B. Just throw a couple seats in the back and off you go.

yes i know its not that simple, don't flame me. But it could be done for a lot less than this other capsule which you know will be delayed again and cost 3x what anyone projects right now.

RE: Typical Senate.
By delphinus100 on 11/21/2011 7:39:53 PM , Rating: 2
yes i know its not that simple

Size, for one. You could put an X-37 in a two-car garage...

Big enough for people means a bigger launcher, etc...

RE: Typical Senate.
By Jeffk464 on 11/21/2011 8:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
You would still have to upgrade the atlas V to a man or wo-man rated rocket. Which I believe was a lot of the expense in launching these private ventures anyways. Except for the Falcon project, the others were planning on using the atlas V, no?

RE: Typical Senate.
By delphinus100 on 11/21/2011 7:34:17 PM , Rating: 2
What would be the military interest in the basic science work, or humans going anywhere beyond LEO?

I mean, unless you can find a national security threat on Mars or beyond, nothing would be gained by this.

RE: Typical Senate.
By Jeffk464 on 11/21/2011 8:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't the space station suppose to be decommissioned around 2020? So we are going to have the ability to launch people to the space station right about the time its decommissioned.

Brilliant, since we outsourced everything else maybe we can play the Chinese off against the Russians to get cheaper seats to the space station.

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