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NASA MPCV  (Source: lockheedmartin.com)
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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Why do we need this again?
By Rukkian on 11/21/2011 11:49:53 AM , Rating: 1
This probably wont be a real popular opinion, but why, when we can't pay our bills are we paying to send anyone into space. While I understand that there are scientific breakthroughs that can come from it, they are down the road. Why not just sit out for a few years while we figure out how to pay our bills. Lets let the chinese actually pay for some breakthroughs instead of just borrowing from them and then have them just steal our tech.

I would love to have a mansion and a butler, but if I cannot afford it, I need to find somewhere to cut, not just go out and borrow more!




RE: Why do we need this again?
By maven81 on 11/21/2011 1:37:32 PM , Rating: 2
Because there always have been and always will be bills to pay. There were bills to pay for Spain when it funded Columbus, and there were bills to pay for a war that was going on during Apollo. If you're going to complain, at least pick an industry that's not actually useful.


RE: Why do we need this again?
By Rukkian on 11/21/2011 1:41:31 PM , Rating: 2
I am not specifically aiming at space, just that until we get the deficit taken care of (either through increased taxes, or just cutting funding) I think all spending should stop. We cannot afford to just keep borrowing more money. At some point the loans will come due, and since we can already not afford them, then what?


RE: Why do we need this again?
By maven81 on 11/21/2011 2:00:25 PM , Rating: 2
Deficit spending in and of itself is not necessarily a huge problem as long as you're working on reducing the deficit. Cutting spending to zero is just not a good idea during a recession. That means fewer jobs and fewer taxes with higher unemployment.


RE: Why do we need this again?
By Jeffk464 on 11/21/2011 8:42:04 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly what a smart government would do is deficit spend during recessions and stash money away during economic boom times. Of course our government doesn't work that way.


RE: Why do we need this again?
By Ringold on 11/21/2011 11:40:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'd suggest that cutting spending there, when its such a drop in the bucket, is eating your seed corn so to speak. R&D and scientific breakthroughs paid for today lead to the economic gains that we'll need tomorrow to continue to grow, become more economically productive, and pay down that debt. Ultimately, we'll never climb out of the debt hole without economic growth, and innovation (technological being one type) is the 'mothers milk of growth', as a certain CNBC commentator puts it.

There'd be a point where I'd agree too much was being spent as a share of GDP, but the US isn't there yet, not even close I would wager.

That said, if NASA consolidated all its facilities down to just a few complexes, instead of spreading its pork all across the nation, it could probably take this budget cut in stride in the long run.


RE: Why do we need this again?
By Jeffk464 on 11/21/2011 8:40:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, Spain had a big bill left over from fighting the Muslims. Ah how history repeats itself. :)


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