In the face of President Obama’s recent push to privatize spaceflight at the expense of NASA’s space fleet, parallel bills are being introduced in the U.S. House and Senate to bolster the government’s waning space capabilities. Called the Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act, the bills propose additional funding to extend the operational life of both the Shuttle and the International Space Station while salvaging a NASA-led Shuttle replacement from the mothballed Constellation Program.
By my rough calculations, this effectively calls for doubling NASA’s budget for FY 2011 and 2012.
While the bill’s proponents in the House, (Congressmen Kosmas and Posey of Florida,) claim the measure ensures the U.S.’s ability to make full use of the International Space Station, it feels more like politicians trying to keep jobs in Florida prior to an election. Provisions in the bill still prioritize commercial spaceflight on paper, but being in the same breath as calling for more money to keep flying the Space Shuttle fleet, more money for developing new space vehicles, and more money to extend the life of the space station surely means commercial programs would end up taking a back-seat to government-controlled programs. I can’t imagine Congress agreeing to double NASA’s budget, especially in the midst of our financial crisis. -And if this agenda is approved without the funding, (which is what doomed Constellation in the first place,) it seems highly unlikely to me that NASA would prioritize its commercial contracts over its own fleet.
Congressmen – what’s best for Florida may not be best for American spaceflight. It’s time to put some faith back into private industry.
Let’s see if entrepreneurs can go where no man has gone before.