Author Topic: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012  (Read 68623 times)

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #160 on: 04/06/2012 04:49 PM »
Mark S: We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 05:59 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline jongoff

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #161 on: 04/06/2012 05:52 PM »
We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.

I'm trying really hard to tone down my accusations of outright graft and spending the public money to line the pockets of their campaign contributors to be more civil, not trying to necessarily defend their bad decisions...

Sheesh, a guy just can't get no respect, can he?

~Jon

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #162 on: 04/06/2012 05:57 PM »
We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.

I'm trying really hard to tone down my accusations of outright graft and spending the public money to line the pockets of their campaign contributors to be more civil, not trying to necessarily defend their bad decisions...

Sheesh, a guy just can't get no respect, can he?

~Jon
You weren't defending Congress's decision, merely explaining why we have what we do. That's quite true. But Mark S was.

I'm just frustrated when we're talking about what Congress should do, people say "oh, well they should do such-and-such 'cause it's the law." It's infuriating, because it's no argument at all since Congress makes the law. It's akin to saying Congress should do whatever Congress wants to do. My comment certainly wasn't directed at you, our favorite mild-mannered rocket scientist.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 06:00 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #163 on: 04/06/2012 05:59 PM »
As it is also negligence of  duty to pass laws that waste the taxpayer's money on needless projects.

Here, here.

Not a big deal.  Gemini 10 and its Agena target were launched less than a 100 minutes apart.

Except that when both shuttles were on the pad a couple of years ago, with one of them intended to be available to launch on need, I was told that 30 days or more would have to pass before the second one could launch.

I can't find the thread.  A so-called search with the term "LON" returns colonies.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 05:59 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #164 on: 04/06/2012 06:01 PM »
As it is also negligence of  duty to pass laws that waste the taxpayer's money on needless projects.

Here, here.

Not a big deal.  Gemini 10 and its Agena target were launched less than a 100 minutes apart.

Except that when both shuttles were on the pad a couple of years ago, with one of them intended to be available to launch on need, I was told that 30 days or more would have to pass before the second one could launch.
...
We're not talking about a Shuttle-derived launch vehicle, we're talking about a couple EELVs.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Jim

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #165 on: 04/06/2012 06:02 PM »
Except that when both shuttles were on the pad a couple of years ago, with one of them intended to be available to launch on need, I was told that 30 days or more would have to pass before the second one could launch.

That was launch vehicle (shuttle) driven (that was due to using one pad).  Range is 48 hours now days and would be cheaper upgrading than a developing a new launch vehicle.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 06:14 PM by Jim »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #166 on: 04/06/2012 06:09 PM »
You can always launch the crew first and the hydrogen/oxygen departure stage last.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #167 on: 04/06/2012 06:42 PM »
We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.

I'm trying really hard to tone down my accusations of outright graft and spending the public money to line the pockets of their campaign contributors to be more civil, not trying to necessarily defend their bad decisions...

Sheesh, a guy just can't get no respect, can he?

~Jon
You weren't defending Congress's decision, merely explaining why we have what we do. That's quite true. But Mark S was.

I'm just frustrated when we're talking about what Congress should do, people say "oh, well they should do such-and-such 'cause it's the law." It's infuriating, because it's no argument at all since Congress makes the law. It's akin to saying Congress should do whatever Congress wants to do. My comment certainly wasn't directed at you, our favorite mild-mannered rocket scientist.

Not sure I actually get the specific argument or point here other than that it appears that acts of Congress (i.e., laws) that you disagree with should somehow have less weight than those with which you agree. Nothing wrong with that approach, I suppose, as it's every American's right (perhaps even "duty") to voice their views on how the nation is governed by those elected to do so.

And thus the discussion of pros and cons will continue. But as Mark S has clearly and accurately articulated, the "debate" on all of this--and all of these various options still being kicked around as preferable-- was held two years ago, and the Congress as a body eventually enacted a law that established, by definition, the "national policy" outcome of that debate. The President signed it into law, and subsequently over the succeeding year, a least signaled the Administration's commitment to comply with that policy. 

The issues are now with implementation, and the degree of support provided in the requested level of resources to carry out the functions required. That's where the current "debate" is focused within the context of the congressional consideration of the FY 2013 Budget Request.

I certainly can't predict the outcome of that, and we will not likely know anything certain before the election, in reality (meaning a CR past October 1 for some period of time.)

But the issues of schedule, launch rate, etc. for SLS and Orion/MPCV, at least past 2017, are primarily budget-driven. As specific missions are identified (sooner rather than later), future budgets are determined, etc., all of that can--and almost certainly will be--subject to change. Observations or views rooted in the CURRENT projected funding levels should, in my view, carry the caveat to that effect..."based on current projections..." etc.

If someone has a better crystal ball than anyone I've yet met as to what the future REALLY will hold, I suppose they can dispense with the caveat. Meantime, I personally take those comments with a grain of salt as to their level of certainty, just because I know from my own experience some of the dynamics of the process that leads to those eventual decisions within the Legislative/Executive Branch interaction that we operate under in this country. (Reference: The Constitution of the United States).

To borrow your phrase.."just sayin'...."
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Mark S

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #168 on: 04/06/2012 06:49 PM »
Mark S: We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.

This flurry of posts started with muomega0's post asking once again why SLS should even exist or be defended, so I tried to answer. If that sounds like "because Congress says so, nyah nyah" then I apologize.

The fact of the matter is that Congress does write the checks and they do have power to set national policy. With regards to SLS and MPCV they pretty much had to pass it over the Administration's objections. If you read PL 111-267, including the policy sections and the rationale for their decisions, you will see that they did not formulate this law in a vacuum (heh).

Also you should remember that the President's FY11 rollout was a disaster and that he was unable to garner any significant support for it from any NASA stakeholders. His FY12 budget proposal for NASA was similarly received, with most people understanding that it was DOA. Now he has put forth his FY13 proposal for NASA and once again we will see that it will be heavily modified by Congress. The only remarkable aspect of this latest proposal is that no one in Congress even seems to be taking it seriously. It is just a placeholder for the real decision makers to have their way with it.

The ironic thing is that commercial was moving along nicely before the Administration started pitting it against SLS and MPCV. This whole mentality of either/or is destructive and is only being fostered by those who hate the very idea of a government owned system (SLS/MPVC). I have yet to see a post from any SLS booster (heh) calling for the elimination of commercial cargo or crew. The "my way or the highway" chorus is a one-way affair with the commercial proponents leading the choir.

Mark S.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #169 on: 04/06/2012 06:54 PM »
Mark S: We shouldn't defend Congress's bad decisions just because they're Congress. Just sayin'.

This flurry of posts started with muomega0's post asking once again why SLS should even exist or be defended, so I tried to answer. If that sounds like "because Congress says so, nyah nyah" then I apologize.
...
Okay, granted.

I still maintain that if we're discussing what sort of national policy Congress should decide on, it's sort of circular logic to argue for it based on what Congress wants. That's all my point.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #170 on: 04/06/2012 07:06 PM »
Except that when both shuttles were on the pad a couple of years ago...

That was launch vehicle (shuttle) driven (that was due to using one pad).  Range is 48 hours now days and would be cheaper upgrading than a developing a new launch vehicle.

Understood that that was shuttle.  Not to belabor the point, I recall that there was a photo showing both craft on different pads.  Am I mistaken in thinking that the second one was actually on a launch pad?

If that sounds like "because Congress says so, nyah nyah" then I apologize.

LOL. It does, but you're right: It is the law of the land. Whether SLS ever launches or not remains to be seen.  If past is prologue, Jim's gotta good point.  And for a "legacy" vehicle, they're sure making it "look" like clean sheet.


Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #171 on: 04/06/2012 07:14 PM »
....
The ironic thing is that commercial was moving along nicely before the Administration started pitting it against SLS and MPCV.
No, that's false. It was never funded on the level needed for flight tests that would allow a competition for two final service providers on a reasonable schedule for initial service (2017). Congress seems to be acting all surprised when more funding is asked for, when they should've known all along that was the sort of funding that is required for what commercial crew is supposed to be. They should've known quite well that a ramp-up in funding is required. It has absolutely nothing to do with pitting commercial crew against SLS/Orion and everything to do with what's needed to get a redundant, competitive domestic crew access capability to ISS by 2017. Congress is playing political games with it, denying any sort of the ramp-up in funding that's clearly required (especially for any increase in oversight that Congress wants).

At no time did NASA or the Administration say that commercial crew could meet its goals of redundant and competitive domestic access to ISS on schedule (for operational capability by 2017) with the measly $400-500 million per year it has had initially. And, in fact, Congress hasn't shown how that'd be possible, either.

Quote
This whole mentality of either/or is destructive and is only being fostered by those who hate the very idea of a government owned system (SLS/MPVC). I have yet to see a post from any SLS booster (heh) calling for the elimination of commercial cargo or crew. The "my way or the highway" chorus is a one-way affair with the commercial proponents leading the choir.
That's a complete misrepresentation. I assume you're talking about me, but I don't think that everything should be commercial. For instance, a deep space habitat or lunar lander should be (at least initially) a government system. And commercial crew enables that. I've actually supported Orion on several occasions (even though I think it might be slightly too big, but that's really a minor technical opinion, not as big of a deal). But building the NASA-only launch vehicle is simply not worth it when we have plenty of other launch vehicles that work great and are very reliable and relatively inexpensive and are under-utilized (if anything). NASA may need its own deep-space craft, but they don't need their own very expensive rocket I believe just pushes the earliest beyond-LEO exploration further into the future.

And ISS is going to be around until 2028 almost certainly. If Orion is used (on SLS, even worse) to service ISS instead of commercial crew, that will take longer to develop (i.e. longer gap) and will cost more and will push the initial exploration mission further to the right. Commercial crew allows NASA to focus on deep space. And it allows better redundancy.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #172 on: 04/06/2012 07:20 PM »
....
The ironic thing is that commercial was moving along nicely before the Administration started pitting it against SLS and MPCV.
No, that's false. It was never funded on the level needed for flight tests that would allow a competition for two final service providers on a reasonable schedule for initial service (2017). Congress seems to be acting all surprised when more funding is asked for, when they should've known all along that was the sort of funding that is required for what commercial crew is supposed to be. They should've known quite well that a ramp-up in funding is required. It has absolutely nothing to do with pitting commercial crew against SLS/Orion and everything to do with what's needed to get a redundant, competitive domestic crew access capability to ISS by 2017. Congress is playing political games with it, denying any sort of the ramp-up in funding that's clearly required (especially for any increase in oversight that Congress wants).

At no time did NASA or the Administration say that commercial crew could meet its goals of redundant and competitive domestic access to ISS on schedule (for operational capability by 2017) with the measly $400-500 million per year it has had initially. And, in fact, Congress hasn't shown how that'd be possible, either.

Quote
This whole mentality of either/or is destructive and is only being fostered by those who hate the very idea of a government owned system (SLS/MPVC). I have yet to see a post from any SLS booster (heh) calling for the elimination of commercial cargo or crew. The "my way or the highway" chorus is a one-way affair with the commercial proponents leading the choir.
That's a complete misrepresentation. I assume you're talking about me, but I don't think that everything should be commercial. For instance, a deep space habitat or lunar lander should be (at least initially) a government system. And commercial crew enables that. I've actually supported Orion on several occasions (even though I think it might be slightly too big, but that's really a minor technical opinion, not as big of a deal). But building the NASA-only launch vehicle is simply not worth it when we have plenty of other launch vehicles that work great and are very reliable and relatively inexpensive and are under-utilized (if anything). NASA may need its own deep-space craft, but they don't need their own very expensive rocket I believe just pushes the earliest beyond-LEO exploration further into the future.

And ISS is going to be around until 2028 almost certainly. If Orion is used (on SLS, even worse) to service ISS instead of commercial crew, that will take longer to develop (i.e. longer gap) and will cost more and will push the initial exploration mission further to the right. Commercial crew allows NASA to focus on deep space. And it allows better redundancy.

FYI:

Excerpt from a NASA document provided to the Congress during consideration of FY 2012 funding cycle:

"$500 million 2016-2017 - Likely will have one or more certified CTSs by 2017, with a potential to pull that back to 2016 assuming very robust funding levels in FY 2013-2016. If CTS certification date is past 2016, $480 million per year in additional payments to Russia will be required for Soyuz until CTS is online."

Also, last numbers I've seen, IF the outcome for Commercial Crew in FY 2013 approps is at a level of $500-$600m, combined new money and carry-over from FY 2012 $ would mean a total of close to $900m would be available for expenditure in FY 2013.

« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 07:25 PM by 51D Mascot »
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #173 on: 04/06/2012 07:34 PM »
Thanks, as usual, 51D Mascot. :)

As you can see, only one CTS is guaranteed at that level, which doesn't meet the commercial crew requirement for redundancy and severely restricts NASA's bargaining power. Not only that, but it increases programmatic risk for initial operating capability, which was partly the reason for the whole effort to be designed as it is in the first place instead of a more traditional contracting method.
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 07:38 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #174 on: 04/06/2012 08:31 PM »
Thanks, as usual, 51D Mascot. :)

As you can see, only one CTS is guaranteed at that level, which doesn't meet the commercial crew requirement for redundancy and severely restricts NASA's bargaining power. Not only that, but it increases programmatic risk for initial operating capability, which was partly the reason for the whole effort to be designed as it is in the first place instead of a more traditional contracting method.

But bear in mind, that reference was BEFORE the FY 2012 approps process was completed, and before the procurement was initiated in December, and does not account for the aggregate funding level I noted as likely for FY 2013, so I don't think it can be said with the certainty you suggest that "only one" can be "guaranteed" (actually, at this stage NOTHING can be "guaranteed," of course). That remains to be seen once the proposals are all assessed. From what I gather strictly unofficially, the numbers associated with proposals are in a very positive direction in terms of facilitating broader participation, which is a good sign.

On the issue of risk for IOC certification, I think I'd have to at least point out there are different views on that. I have the presentation in which NASA outlined the pros and cons of SAA versus FAR-based procurement for the next phase. Among the bullets listed as concerns associated with SAA are:

"NASA can not mandate design compliance with NASA requirements or have oversight approval

-- FAR-based contracts will be required for Certification and Services

-- Relies on competition for future contracts as incentive for compliance

-- However, technical requirements will be available for voluntary adoption by industry

Evaluation of proposals for the Certification contract will be more complex

-- Industry will not have detailed requirements and verifications approved by NASA during SAA phase

-- FFP could be challenging for Certification phase"

The judgment NASA has made is that they believe, based on experience to date under COTS, their embedded liaison functions with the contractors, etc., give them confidence that the voluntary compliance through the SAA-procurement approach with published certification requirements will be sufficient to minimize the "challenge for certification phase" noted in the last sub-bullet. NASA must use FAR-based procurement for the actual certification and purchase of services, so it's not a question of eventually going that route (SAA authority doesn't reach that far), but a judgment call on what will ensure the best outcome. On that, reasonable folks can disagree, clearly.   
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline yg1968

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #175 on: 04/06/2012 08:39 PM »
FYI:

Excerpt from a NASA document provided to the Congress during consideration of FY 2012 funding cycle:

"$500 million 2016-2017 - Likely will have one or more certified CTSs by 2017, with a potential to pull that back to 2016 assuming very robust funding levels in FY 2013-2016. If CTS certification date is past 2016, $480 million per year in additional payments to Russia will be required for Soyuz until CTS is online."

Also, last numbers I've seen, IF the outcome for Commercial Crew in FY 2013 approps is at a level of $500-$600m, combined new money and carry-over from FY 2012 $ would mean a total of close to $900m would be available for expenditure in FY 2013.

It's a minor point but according to Ed Mango and Brent Jett only 75% of the funding of $406M (75% x $406M = $304M) for commercial crew for FY2012 will be used for CCiCap (the other 25% was used for CCDev-2 optional milestones). You also have to remember that part of the funding for commercial crew goes to the Commercial Crew Office for the work that they do. Also I think that the budgeting for SAAs works differently than FAR contracts, the $304 M (75% x $406M) will have been considered to have be spent in FY2012 at the time of the CCiCap award, I don't think that it gets carried over to FY 2013.   
« Last Edit: 04/06/2012 08:56 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #176 on: 04/06/2012 10:19 PM »
FYI:

Excerpt from a NASA document provided to the Congress during consideration of FY 2012 funding cycle:

"$500 million 2016-2017 - Likely will have one or more certified CTSs by 2017, with a potential to pull that back to 2016 assuming very robust funding levels in FY 2013-2016. If CTS certification date is past 2016, $480 million per year in additional payments to Russia will be required for Soyuz until CTS is online."

Also, last numbers I've seen, IF the outcome for Commercial Crew in FY 2013 approps is at a level of $500-$600m, combined new money and carry-over from FY 2012 $ would mean a total of close to $900m would be available for expenditure in FY 2013.

It's a minor point but according to Ed Mango and Brent Jett only 75% of the funding of $406M (75% x $406M = $304M) for commercial crew for FY2012 will be used for CCiCap (the other 25% was used for CCDev-2 optional milestones). You also have to remember that part of the funding for commercial crew goes to the Commercial Crew Office for the work that they do. Also I think that the budgeting for SAAs works differently than FAR contracts, the $304 M (75% x $406M) will have been considered to have be spent in FY2012 at the time of the CCiCap award, I don't think that it gets carried over to FY 2013.   

I'd have to double-check with the approps staff who are the experts and source of my info on the strict carry-over issues, as well as the folks at NASA, with whom we interact frequently on this, as other issues (which is a point often missed in a lot of this discussion; we actually do TALK to each other, long and often, outside the context of formal hearings, etc.).

However, it seems to me on the face of it that "Considered to have been spent" is likely a technical accounting "nicety", but doesn't change the actual distribution of funds. In other words, they wouldn't lapse back to the Treasury, but would remain applicable to the purpose appropriated. So I think you're maybe stating a distinction without a real difference.

But, as I have said earlier, not being an "appropriator" I can't claim expertise in this area, so I appreciate you raising the question, because I do believe it's an important point.

It is clearly NOT the intent of people I work with to impede or slow development of Commercial crew, despite all the characterizations to the contrary. The issue is balanced development efforts across the agreed-upon priorities within the context of a severely--and in my view inappropriately--constrained top line budget for NASA.
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #177 on: 04/06/2012 10:23 PM »
....a severely--and in my view inappropriately--constrained top line budget for NASA.
I certainly agree with you, there.
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Offline yg1968

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Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #178 on: 04/07/2012 01:07 AM »
FYI:

Excerpt from a NASA document provided to the Congress during consideration of FY 2012 funding cycle:

"$500 million 2016-2017 - Likely will have one or more certified CTSs by 2017, with a potential to pull that back to 2016 assuming very robust funding levels in FY 2013-2016. If CTS certification date is past 2016, $480 million per year in additional payments to Russia will be required for Soyuz until CTS is online."

Also, last numbers I've seen, IF the outcome for Commercial Crew in FY 2013 approps is at a level of $500-$600m, combined new money and carry-over from FY 2012 $ would mean a total of close to $900m would be available for expenditure in FY 2013.

It's a minor point but according to Ed Mango and Brent Jett only 75% of the funding of $406M (75% x $406M = $304M) for commercial crew for FY2012 will be used for CCiCap (the other 25% was used for CCDev-2 optional milestones). You also have to remember that part of the funding for commercial crew goes to the Commercial Crew Office for the work that they do. Also I think that the budgeting for SAAs works differently than FAR contracts, the $304 M (75% x $406M) will have been considered to have be spent in FY2012 at the time of the CCiCap award, I don't think that it gets carried over to FY 2013.   

I'd have to double-check with the approps staff who are the experts and source of my info on the strict carry-over issues, as well as the folks at NASA, with whom we interact frequently on this, as other issues (which is a point often missed in a lot of this discussion; we actually do TALK to each other, long and often, outside the context of formal hearings, etc.).

However, it seems to me on the face of it that "Considered to have been spent" is likely a technical accounting "nicety", but doesn't change the actual distribution of funds. In other words, they wouldn't lapse back to the Treasury, but would remain applicable to the purpose appropriated. So I think you're maybe stating a distinction without a real difference.

But, as I have said earlier, not being an "appropriator" I can't claim expertise in this area, so I appreciate you raising the question, because I do believe it's an important point.

It is clearly NOT the intent of people I work with to impede or slow development of Commercial crew, despite all the characterizations to the contrary. The issue is balanced development efforts across the agreed-upon priorities within the context of a severely--and in my view inappropriately--constrained top line budget for NASA.

OK. I think that we are saying the same thing. I was only trying to point out that the budgeting for SAAs is different from FAR contracts and that not all funds need to be spent in the same fiscal year that they are awarded which is what you are also saying. I just thought that saying that $900 million will be spent in FY 2013 for commercial crew is a bit misleading since it is really $406M for FY2012 and $500M (or $600M) for FY 2013 and the amounts will be spent when ever the SAA milestones are met (between August 2012 and April 2014).   But if you have more information on this topic, I would be very interested to know more about it because I admit that it's not entirely clear in my mind. 
« Last Edit: 04/07/2012 01:16 AM by yg1968 »

Offline MP99

Re: House committee on appropriations - March 21, 2012
« Reply #179 on: 04/07/2012 12:48 PM »
As you can see, only one CTS is guaranteed at that level, which doesn't meet the commercial crew requirement for redundancy and severely restricts NASA's bargaining power.

I can't find any requirement in PL111-267" that Commercial Crew should have a redundant element.

It actually specifies that Soyuz is the first backup for commercial crew (at least, as I read it), and SLS/MPCV is the backup to that backup.

cheers, Martin

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