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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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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.


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