Author Topic: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview  (Read 346415 times)

Offline TimL

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #180 on: 12/01/2010 08:24 pm »
Oversight is one thing, but take it out of the other programs is part of the cost run ups that lead to these budget problems.

I cringed when Warner commented about Langley and needing research funding to upgrade the air traffic system. Hutchinson or somebody says something about there being 400 million plus up in the NASA's budget to fund that, but guess where that money for STS-135 and Webb will come from...all these other programs.

If congress truly wants to support STS-135, it should be a stand alone line item in the appropriations bill
If they truly want to support Webb, dedicate a line item funding increase to pay down the over runs.
If they truly want to close the gap now and get SLS running, fund it already!
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Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #181 on: 12/01/2010 08:30 pm »
Pretty much a waste of time...are you following the law, yes we're following the law, you better follow the law, we're following the law...

I think there were actually some interesting pieces of information.  While maybe not "breaking news", important nonetheless. 

2.  Another is a bit more subtle.  It was in response to a question asked by Senator Nelson and the "legal clarity" NASA lawyers have given NASA administration regarding certain issues.  I found it quite interesting the response the CFO gave and the "pecking order" that was defined and supposedly why.  Personally, I found that to speak volumes. 

Vitter didn't give the CFO the chance to actually answer that question. But in all likelyhood, the legal clarity memos relating to the SLS takes a lot more time because they depend on the overall funding of the HLV and they are also more complicated from a legal point of view.

The fact that NASA is allowed to pursue CCDev 2 under a continuing resolution isn't much of a surprise since it's a continuation of CCDev 1 (which was started under the stimilus bill). Drafting a legal opinion on the legality of starting a new SLS program which likely requires cancelling part of Constellation is a lot more dificult.   


On your first paragraph, as I mentioned, it was Senator Nelson.  However, that is not really the subtle point in which I was referring. 

On your second paragraph, CCDev 2 is not really a simple "continuation" of the first.  It is an open competition, not just additional funding to those who got it during the first round. 

I'm not saying by any means CCDev 2 RFPs for Space Act Agreements should not have been let, just curious that seems so "simple" to rationalize.  However it takes a lot of time to "explore the trade space" with respect to MPCV (based on Orion where a contract is already in place and significant money already spent) and an HLV (where the options - and really the intent of congress - is pretty clear). 

In addition, there was something about grad students thrown in there.  While I absolutely agree research is important at universities and the students there are part of the future workforce pipeline, IMHO there are thousands of people now who are the current workforce pipeline who are wondering how long their current job lasts and how best to try to apply their talents and experience for what comes next. 

So, as I said, I found that conversational exchange to speak volumes to me personally. 

You are right that it was originally Nelson's question. But Vitter later made a comment that was identical to yours but he didn't let the NASA CFO give an explanation as to why that was case.

I also realize that CCDev 1 and 2 are not identical but they are still part of the same program. Neither of them are part of Constellation, so the legal issues are easier to resolve than for the SLS. Furthermore, NASA will not be awarding anything for CCDev-2 before March 2012 and the awards are dependent on the amount that will be appropriated by Congress.  So NASA gave itself a lot of possible "outs" if necessary.

Offline renclod

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #182 on: 12/01/2010 08:36 pm »
If I understand what was said in this hearing correctly, in order to have NASA moving forward along 2010 auth law guidance, in the context of a long term FY 2011 CR, three (3) things must be inserted in the CR language :

A. an explicit reference to removing current language that prohibits NASA to terminate programs, projects or activities

B. an explicit reference to removing current language that prohibits NASA to start new programs, projects or activities

C. an explicit reference to NASA authorization law of 2010 as the legal source of guidance when it comes to distributing CR funds to new and existing programs, projects and activities

Did I got that right ?


Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #183 on: 12/01/2010 08:54 pm »
If I understand what was said in this hearing correctly, in order to have NASA moving forward along 2010 auth law guidance, in the context of a long term FY 2011 CR, three (3) things must be inserted in the CR language :

A. an explicit reference to removing current language in the 2009 Appropriation bill and in the new war supplemental funding bill that prohibits NASA to terminate programs, projects or activities relating to Constellation.

B. an explicit reference to removing current language (that is generally found in continuing resolutions) that prohibits NASA (or other government agencies) to start new programs, projects or activities that weren't already funded under the prior appropriation bill. However, given the fact that appropriation bills aren't that specific, there is some leeway on this.

C. an explicit reference to NASA authorization law of 2010 as the legal source of guidance when it comes to distributing CR funds to new and existing programs, projects and activities

Did I get that right ?

Yes but I have added in bold some details on each of your points.

More specifically, the following legislation needs to be either changed or repealed:

1- Here is the text of the war supplemental bill (on page 7) that needs repealing:
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h4899eas.txt.pdf
Quote
"Provided further, that notwithstanding any other provision of law or regulation, funds made available for Constellation in Fiscal Year 2010 for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration' and from previous appropriations for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration Exploration' shall be available to fund continued performance of Constellation contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may not be terminated for convenience by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Fiscal Year 2010."

2- Here is the language in the 2010 Appropriation bill that needs repealing (page 111):
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ117.111.pdf
Quote
EXPLORATION

For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, in the conduct and support of exploration research and development activities, including research, development, operations, support, and services; maintenance; space flight, spacecraft control, and communications activities; program management, personnel and related costs, including uniforms or allowances therefor, as authorized by 5 U.S.C. 59015902; travel expenses; purchase and hire of passenger motor vehicles; and purchase, lease, charter, maintenance, and operation of mission and administrative aircraft, $3,746,300,000, to remain available until September 30, 2011: Provided, That notwithstanding section 505 of this Act, none of the funds provided herein and from prior years that remain available for obligation during fiscal year 2010 shall be available for the termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program nor shall such funds be available to create or initiate a new program, project or activity, unless such program termination, elimination, creation, or initiation is provided in subsequent appropriations Acts.

3- Here is the continuing resolution language that needs to be modified for NASA (pages 1 and 2):
http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/111_satohr3081_txt.pdf
Quote
SEC. 101. Such amounts as may be necessary, at a
8 rate for operations as provided in the applicable appropria
9 tions Acts for fiscal year 2010 and under the authority and
1 conditions provided in such Acts, for continuing projects
2 or activities (including the costs of direct loans and loan
3 guarantees) that are not otherwise specifically provided for
4 in this Act, that were conducted in fiscal year 2010, and
5 for which appropriations, funds, or other authority were
6 made available in the following appropriations Acts:

4- You would also need to add some "positive" language in the continuing resolution that would specifically refer to the amounts authorized under the NASA Authorization bill.
« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 09:44 pm by yg1968 »

Offline simonbp

Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #184 on: 12/01/2010 08:55 pm »
and when does the 90 day study start? Is it dependent on the appropriations?
The 90 day period starts from the day that the NASA Authorization bill was signed by the President (October 11, 2010).

Which means January 9, 2011...
« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 08:56 pm by simonbp »

Offline renclod

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #185 on: 12/01/2010 09:08 pm »
...90 day study ... January 9, 2011...

There was talk in the Senate hearing today to the understanding (or relief for NASA) that, given lack of resources, they will present partial study results at the term.


Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #186 on: 12/01/2010 09:39 pm »
Looks like the House is voting on a CR to Dec. 18 right now.

http://www.c-span.org/Watch/C-SPAN.aspx

The House passed another clean continuing resolution until December 18 (the Senate now has to consider it):
http://www.rules.house.gov/111/LegText/111_hjres101_cr.pdf

See also:
http://appropriations.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=716&Itemid=28
« Last Edit: 12/01/2010 10:28 pm by yg1968 »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #187 on: 12/02/2010 12:39 am »
Pretty much a waste of time...are you following the law, yes we're following the law, you better follow the law, we're following the law...

As I mentioned in several different contexts, and in several different wordings:

As long as you have the law, you can disregard the spirit. 

Gotta go.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline robertross

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #188 on: 12/02/2010 01:44 am »
Thanks for those words OV-106. I concur with the largess of the STS-135 wording: very positive.

And thanks marsavian for the play-by-play coverage.
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Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #189 on: 12/02/2010 01:32 pm »
I feel pretty good about the hearing; from my perspective, it accomplished its primary objectives, which were to

a) demonstrate that the Committee is VERY serious about using its oversight authority to closely monitor--and thus be in a position to enforce--compliance with both the language and intent of the law,

b) to express concerns about indications the Committee has received from a variety of sources about less-than-adequate enthusiasm for full and complete implementation of the law or inaccurate "interpretations" of the law,

c) establish a dialogue about what real or imagined impediments exists (i.e., appropriations language and FY 2011 potential funding level scenarios) and potential solutions thereto, and

d) get affirmative statements on the record from senior officials regarding the "adoption" of the law as a matter of Administration policy and commitments to its successful implementation. (The focus was on the NASA CFO for this hearing simply because the current situation of working through the tangled web of CR appropriations--and that official's role in working through that and developing allocations among programs and providing longer-term budget planning guidance--is especially critical right now during the "transition.")

It was also made clear, though maybe not as noticeable to observers as some of the above, that this was the "opening salvo", if you will, of what will be an ongoing process of careful oversight and follow-up; that the enactment of the law represented just the "first step" in ensuring the new "re-direction" established by the law, especially in the realm of human spaceflight; and to reflect that that oversight includes being able to fine-tune the language and policy, where needed, to ensure an "executable" program (including changes to out-year funding, etc., depending on what becomes clear and more certain on exactly what vehicle designs and mission definitions are developed, as required by the law.)

So...a good beginning, in my view, skeptics and critics of the law and the process on this site and elsewhere notwithstanding, hehe.
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline brihath

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #190 on: 12/02/2010 02:03 pm »
I feel pretty good about the hearing; from my perspective, it accomplished its primary objectives, which were to

a) demonstrate that the Committee is VERY serious about using its oversight authority to closely monitor--and thus be in a position to enforce--compliance with both the language and intent of the law,

b) to express concerns about indications the Committee has received from a variety of sources about less-than-adequate enthusiasm for full and complete implementation of the law or inaccurate "interpretations" of the law,

c) establish a dialogue about what real or imagined impediments exists (i.e., appropriations language and FY 2011 potential funding level scenarios) and potential solutions thereto, and

d) get affirmative statements on the record from senior officials regarding the "adoption" of the law as a matter of Administration policy and commitments to its successful implementation. (The focus was on the NASA CFO for this hearing simply because the current situation of working through the tangled web of CR appropriations--and that official's role in working through that and developing allocations among programs and providing longer-term budget planning guidance--is especially critical right now during the "transition.")

It was also made clear, though maybe not as noticeable to observers as some of the above, that this was the "opening salvo", if you will, of what will be an ongoing process of careful oversight and follow-up; that the enactment of the law represented just the "first step" in ensuring the new "re-direction" established by the law, especially in the realm of human spaceflight; and to reflect that that oversight includes being able to fine-tune the language and policy, where needed, to ensure an "executable" program (including changes to out-year funding, etc., depending on what becomes clear and more certain on exactly what vehicle designs and mission definitions are developed, as required by the law.)

So...a good beginning, in my view, skeptics and critics of the law and the process on this site and elsewhere notwithstanding, hehe.

51D-  Thanks for the summary.  Just curious, what steps would the committee be empowered to take should implementation of the law deviate from the intended path?

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #191 on: 12/02/2010 02:33 pm »
The fact that the appropropriation process has been stalled in Congress is making it hard for NASA to implement the NASA Authorization bill. If you ask me, Congress should focus its efforts on getting this done before crying foul and claiming that NASA is not following the spirit of the law. Some people in the House have vowed to continue fighting some of the items that are found in the 2010 NASA Authorization bill.  This makes it difficult for NASA to commit to any new programs including CCDev-2 and the SLS. I liked the fact that Vitter was honest enough to say that they are partly to blame for the situation.
« Last Edit: 12/02/2010 02:42 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #192 on: 12/02/2010 02:38 pm »
I feel pretty good about the hearing; from my perspective, it accomplished its primary objectives, which were to

a) demonstrate that the Committee is VERY serious about using its oversight authority to closely monitor--and thus be in a position to enforce--compliance with both the language and intent of the law,

b) to express concerns about indications the Committee has received from a variety of sources about less-than-adequate enthusiasm for full and complete implementation of the law or inaccurate "interpretations" of the law,

c) establish a dialogue about what real or imagined impediments exists (i.e., appropriations language and FY 2011 potential funding level scenarios) and potential solutions thereto, and

d) get affirmative statements on the record from senior officials regarding the "adoption" of the law as a matter of Administration policy and commitments to its successful implementation. (The focus was on the NASA CFO for this hearing simply because the current situation of working through the tangled web of CR appropriations--and that official's role in working through that and developing allocations among programs and providing longer-term budget planning guidance--is especially critical right now during the "transition.")

It was also made clear, though maybe not as noticeable to observers as some of the above, that this was the "opening salvo", if you will, of what will be an ongoing process of careful oversight and follow-up; that the enactment of the law represented just the "first step" in ensuring the new "re-direction" established by the law, especially in the realm of human spaceflight; and to reflect that that oversight includes being able to fine-tune the language and policy, where needed, to ensure an "executable" program (including changes to out-year funding, etc., depending on what becomes clear and more certain on exactly what vehicle designs and mission definitions are developed, as required by the law.)

So...a good beginning, in my view, skeptics and critics of the law and the process on this site and elsewhere notwithstanding, hehe.

51D-  Thanks for the summary.  Just curious, what steps would the committee be empowered to take should implementation of the law deviate from the intended path?

The Committee can develop new legislative language to amend the law to both clarify intent, and remove "wiggle room" if needed. It has the authority to enact "if-then" kinds of provisions, prohibit other actions if desired actions aren't taken, etc.  In the broader sense, it has the power to subpoena documents; require specific information that enables it to monitor progress and compliance, use the "bully pulpit" of additional hearings, press conferences, speeches, etc., to publicly highlight issues or concerns and bring attention to them, etc., etc. One thing not seen in yesterday's hearing is the fact that very specific and detailed questions will be sent to the witnesses, which will focus on concerns and issues that were referred to in more general terms during the hearing. The importance of getting the assurances of compliance publicly stated on the record yesterday is that it opens the door for that whole range of "tools" to be able to ensure accountability for the subsequent actions--or lack thereof--taken in fulfilling the obligations committed to. When these kinds of things are done on a bipartisan basis, they can be very powerful elements of the "policy process."
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #193 on: 12/02/2010 02:44 pm »
The fact that the appropropriation process has been stalled in Congress is making it hard for NASA to implement the NASA Authorization bill. If you ask me, Congress should focus its efforts on getting this done before crying foul and claiming that NASA is not following the spirit of the law. Some people in the House have vowed to continue fighting some of the items that are found in the 2010 NASA Authorization bill.  This makes it difficult for NASA to commit to any new programs including CCDev-2 and the SLS.

Please don't assume that Members can't "multi-task." The issues in appropriations have been, and continue to be, worked very diligently by these Members. There are "institutional constraints" that are at work as well, which complicate the issue, not least of which is the pending transition of power in the House, and the fact that the current appropriations morass is not just in the area affecting NASA, but the ENTIRE federal government, so getting "special attention" to something that represents less than one half of one percent of that total is not easy; but everything possible is being done in the context of those realities, and one of the outcomes of yesterday's hearing was a commitment for direct White House engagement on the issues affecting NASA. We shall see, as Senator Vitter noted, how well that "test" is met.
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #194 on: 12/02/2010 02:56 pm »
The fact that the appropropriation process has been stalled in Congress is making it hard for NASA to implement the NASA Authorization bill. If you ask me, Congress should focus its efforts on getting this done before crying foul and claiming that NASA is not following the spirit of the law. Some people in the House have vowed to continue fighting some of the items that are found in the 2010 NASA Authorization bill.  This makes it difficult for NASA to commit to any new programs including CCDev-2 and the SLS.

Please don't assume that Members can't "multi-task." The issues in appropriations have been, and continue to be, worked very diligently by these Members. There are "institutional constraints" that are at work as well, which complicate the issue, not least of which is the pending transition of power in the House, and the fact that the current appropriations morass is not just in the area affecting NASA, but the ENTIRE federal government, so getting "special attention" to something that represents less than one half of one percent of that total is not easy; but everything possible is being done in the context of those realities, and one of the outcomes of yesterday's hearing was a commitment for direct White House engagement on the issues affecting NASA. We shall see, as Senator Vitter noted, how well that "test" is met.

I am not assuming that Congress is unable to multi-task. But Congress needs to admit that the NASA Authorization bill is stalled partly because of their lack of progress on these issues. But Vitter was honest enough to say that they are partly to blame for the situation when he admited that there is "language" deficiencies that need to be fixed in the (December 17) continuing resolution.

Incidentally, any news on that? Is there any hope that the December 17th CR will contain the necessary language to fix some of these issues?
« Last Edit: 12/02/2010 02:58 pm by yg1968 »

Offline Jeff Bingham

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #195 on: 12/02/2010 04:01 pm »
The fact that the appropriation process has been stalled in Congress is making it hard for NASA to implement the NASA Authorization bill. If you ask me, Congress should focus its efforts on getting this done before crying foul and claiming that NASA is not following the spirit of the law. Some people in the House have vowed to continue fighting some of the items that are found in the 2010 NASA Authorization bill.  This makes it difficult for NASA to commit to any new programs including CCDev-2 and the SLS.

Please don't assume that Members can't "multi-task." The issues in appropriations have been, and continue to be, worked very diligently by these Members. There are "institutional constraints" that are at work as well, which complicate the issue, not least of which is the pending transition of power in the House, and the fact that the current appropriations morass is not just in the area affecting NASA, but the ENTIRE federal government, so getting "special attention" to something that represents less than one half of one percent of that total is not easy; but everything possible is being done in the context of those realities, and one of the outcomes of yesterday's hearing was a commitment for direct White House engagement on the issues affecting NASA. We shall see, as Senator Vitter noted, how well that "test" is met.

I am not assuming that Congress is unable to multi-task. But Congress needs to admit that the NASA Authorization bill is stalled partly because of their lack of progress on these issues. But Vitter was honest enough to say that they are partly to blame for the situation when he admitted that there is "language" deficiencies that need to be fixed in the (December 17) continuing resolution.

Incidentally, any news on that? Is there any hope that the December 17th CR will contain the necessary language to fix some of these issues?

Maybe I was too oblique in my comment. We have known for some time that the action taken by the appropriators in the fall of 2009 and summer of 2010 (with the blessing of the authorizers, who had not yet passed the 2010 bill, but had the public assurances of the appropriators that their subsequent CJS appropriations would track what was authorized, if an authorization bill was enacted) has proven to be responsible for some of the apparent "confusion" about moving forward with the bill.

The hearing yesterday was precisely to focus on just to what extent that was reality, versus "excuse," for lack of progress. If you listened carefully, you heard Beth Robinson say that it actually was NOT an impediment to the SLS or MPCV--that the issue there was the uncertainty of just how much the eventual funding levels would be.

Unfortunately, the CJS subcommittee appropriators were unable to get a separate CJS bill passed, which would have included the necessary language pointing to the authorization bill as the guiding policy and law for the use of the funds. Therefore, the CR ended up including ALL of government, and since every other subcommittee would have "exceptions" they would have liked to have made to address issues within their jurisdiction (handled as what are called "anomalies" in a CR) the leadership ruled that there would be a "clean" CR, which has the side-effect of carrying forward any restrictive language enacted affecting FY 2010 funds into FY 2011, even if those restrictions are no longer needed or desirable. The challenge now is to get agreement, in the face of what is likely to be a CR for the remainder of FY 2011, to insert the necessary "anomaly" language needed to remove any doubt about NASA's ability to implement the new authorization law. That is what Senator Vitter was focusing on in the hearing, and what has been under discussion among all the members for some time now. The "test" that  he referred to is the issue of the degree to which the White House/President will now weigh in to support the inclusion of those anomalies in the next CR. That has to be done with the House Democrats, because the House is where the appropriations must originate, under the Constitution--and where the House Republicans are currently in a posture of not "engaging" in the CR discussions unless they get agreement to use 2008 spending levels.

I'm trying to summarize what is a very complex situation, but mainly want to make the point that the relevant parties are engaged and actively working to get the necessary "fix" in place. As to your question of whether that will be done for the next CR, there's no way right now to predict, but that is the point of all of the current behind-the-scenes activity and discussion, of which there is a great deal going on.

Does that help, or just confuse the issue more?
« Last Edit: 12/02/2010 04:01 pm by 51D Mascot »
Offering only my own views and experience as a long-time "Space Cadet."

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #196 on: 12/02/2010 04:19 pm »
That does help a lot. Your other comments were not oblique at all. But these additionnal comments provide even more details. Thanks. That was very informative.
« Last Edit: 12/02/2010 07:50 pm by yg1968 »

Offline simonbp

Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #197 on: 12/02/2010 04:54 pm »
If you listened carefully, you heard Beth Robinson say that it actually was NOT an impediment to the SLS or MPCV--that the issue there was the uncertainty of just how much the eventual funding levels would be.

I thought I heard that, but thanks for making it clear.

Offline yg1968

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #198 on: 12/02/2010 05:06 pm »
If you listened carefully, you heard Beth Robinson say that it actually was NOT an impediment to the SLS or MPCV--that the issue there was the uncertainty of just how much the eventual funding levels would be.

I thought I heard that, but thanks for making it clear.

It would be worth reading the transcript. I thought that she meant that the amount of spending was a bigger impediment than the language itself (which would make sense). Although, I imagine that there is ways around the language in the sense that you could argue that the SLS is essentially a modified Ares V. You could also try to argue that NASA is not cancelling Ares I but that it is focusing its energy instead on this modified Ares V. 
« Last Edit: 12/02/2010 05:13 pm by yg1968 »

Offline jml

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Re: NASA FY 2011 Appropriations - preview
« Reply #199 on: 12/02/2010 05:55 pm »
If you listened carefully, you heard Beth Robinson say that it actually was NOT an impediment to the SLS or MPCV--that the issue there was the uncertainty of just how much the eventual funding levels would be.

I thought I heard that, but thanks for making it clear.

It would be worth reading the transcript. I thought that she meant that the amount of spending was a bigger impediment than the language itself (which would make sense). Although, I imagine that there is ways around the language in the sense that you could argue that the SLS is essentially a modified Ares V. You could also try to argue that NASA is not cancelling Ares I but that it is focusing its energy instead on this modified Ares V. 
...And focusing on Ares V/SLS over Ares I in the short term not just on a whim of the administration, but in order to follow the authorization instructions specified by an Act of Congress while at the same time obeying GAO interpretations of how to do so during the current continuing resolution appropriations situation.

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