Author Topic: Ramifications of Bill Nelson's loss in Florida on SLS support  (Read 7485 times)

Offline Llian Rhydderch

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The Europa lander is almost certainly dead. I think that Europa Clipper will survive, but I also think that it's launch date might move back by ~2 years (depends on if the remaining SLS crowd believe that they need it to launch sooner rather than later to help with the initial flight rate).

In my view, if the Europa lander has a constituency in the science community, and can be defended sans SLS politics, then by all means, those with the funds and authority should continue on, and build it.  Fly to Europa on SpaceX BFR.  Use a small part of the money saved to fly other parallel orbiters and probes on the same expedition.  8)
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline yg1968

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Offline yg1968

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Sorry to see Rohrabacher and Culbertson go. Johnson (D) as chairman would be bad news. She was consistently against commercial crew in the past (which she called: a joy ride for the rich...).
« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 12:17 AM by yg1968 »

Offline woods170

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Sorry to see Rohrabacher and Culbertson go. Johnson (D) as chairman would be bad news. She was consistently against commercial crew in the past (which she called: a joy ride for the rich...).

IMO there is not much she can do against commercial crew now. Shuttle is gone and Soyuz seats are no longer available in the prior quantities. CCP is on the verge of flying and NASA has already committed the funds for CCP.
She would have one hell of a time explaining, to the rest of US Congress, why she would want to de-crew the ISS, just to pester CCP.

At best she might be able to block any extensions to the current CCP contract. But that's it IMO.

Offline speedevil

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Sorry to see Rohrabacher and Culbertson go. Johnson (D) as chairman would be bad news. She was consistently against commercial crew in the past (which she called: a joy ride for the rich...).

It would be amusing if she was consistent, and vehemently supported joy-rides for the not-so-rich.
(If low-cost space tourism turns out to take off in her term)

Offline JH

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Johnson (D) as chairman would be bad news. She was consistently against commercial crew in the past (which she called: a joy ride for the rich...).

Rep. Johnson's recent statements have been supportive of Commercial Crew, but have indicated that she would rather have a gap on the ISS than fail to address safety analysis. The fact that Commercial Crew has been properly funded for the last several years is proof that she isn't the only member of Congress that has changed her opinion of the program.

Even if you are to ignore everything from the last six years, her statement was supportive of NASA in general and the Science Mission Directorate in particular, strongly questioning cuts to Planetary funding. She was not suggesting the cancellation of the Commercial Crew Program, but rather disagreeing with the degree of its prioritization in the Administration's FY13 budget request, in light of budget constraints on NASA overall. Here is the recording of the hearing if you wish to see it (Rep. Johnson's statement begins at 6:40):



I suppose that if you want to lament someone coming to power who is supportive of NASA because you dislike a position she held on a single topic, half a dozen years ago, it is your prerogative.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 03:20 PM by JH »

Offline Proponent

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The Houston Chronicle has a piece up suggesting that Culberson's defeat could be problematic for Orion (which it erroneously describes as being "focused on putting humans back on the moon").

The Chronicle also reminds us that Lamar Smith (R-TX), heretofore a significant figure by virtue of his chairmanship of the House science committee, will leave come January, because he did not run for re-election.  He's been a strong proponent of Orion, even to the extent of trying to enforce the ridiculous provision of the 2010 NASA authorization about it being used for back-up ISS access.

Offline robertross

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I think the bigger picture is a divided House & Senate, and budget bills likely  not getting passed, which will bring about more Continuing Resolutions. Those are a bigger problem for spaceflight (and all programs looking for new funding).
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline incoming

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The combined effect of Culberson and Nelson losing is almost certain to be negative in terms of funding for NASA. Culberson did have his favorite programs but he always made a point to add those priorities to NASA's top line.

The way the appropriations process works is that the committee and subcommittee chairman and ranking members have the most impact on the priorities, as well as to a much lesser degree rank-and-file members of the appropriations committee. But powerful chairman/ranking members of other important committees also have a significant influence on appropriations because of their power over authorization bills and oversight in their respective areas.

Culberson and Nelson were two members of congress who fought and spoke out (arguably) the most for overall NASA funding, and Culberson as the house CJS appropriations subcommittee chair was in one of the two most influential positions in all of congress to actually deliver on it (though his influence would have waned slightly anyway with the republicans losing the majority in the house). And Nelson is the ranking member of the powerful commerce committee and one of the most senior members of armed services as well.

Nelson is of course known for SLS but he also fought very hard for commercial crew and vociferously defended NASA's science portfolio, even reaching a detent with Senator Cruz who initially went after Earth Science as the subcommittee chairman but later backed off and worked together with Nelson on NASA and commercial space bills. 

The other factor is that Culberson's opponent actually used his support for the space program against him. That is a REALLY big deal because other members will be far less likely to stick their necks out when it comes to fighting for NASA if all of their strategists tell them it's a loser of an issue to champion.   


Offline yg1968

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Johnson (D) as chairman would be bad news. She was consistently against commercial crew in the past (which she called: a joy ride for the rich...).

Rep. Johnson's recent statements have been supportive of Commercial Crew, but have indicated that she would rather have a gap on the ISS than fail to address safety analysis. The fact that Commercial Crew has been properly funded for the last several years is proof that she isn't the only member of Congress that has changed her opinion of the program.

Even if you are to ignore everything from the last six years, her statement was supportive of NASA in general and the Science Mission Directorate in particular, strongly questioning cuts to Planetary funding. She was not suggesting the cancellation of the Commercial Crew Program, but rather disagreeing with the degree of its prioritization in the Administration's FY13 budget request, in light of budget constraints on NASA overall. Here is the recording of the hearing if you wish to see it (Rep. Johnson's statement begins at 6:40):

I suppose that if you want to lament someone coming to power who is supportive of NASA because you dislike a position she held on a single topic, half a dozen years ago, it is your prerogative.

Most opponents of commercial crew became proponents once they saw that commercial crew became inevitable. I watch most space hearings and it wasn't just this one instance. She consistently favors large government programs. I doubt that she will support any new commercial initiative.  But I hope to be proven wrong.
« Last Edit: 11/08/2018 11:56 PM by yg1968 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Down to 0.2%... They keep finding more ballots in Broward County...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline robertross

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This is crazy:

"Scott sues Broward elections head as Florida Senate race spirals toward recount"

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/415852-scott-sues-broward-supervisor-of-elections-as-florida-senate-race-spirals



Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline Rocket Science

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This is crazy:

"Scott sues Broward elections head as Florida Senate race spirals toward recount"

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/415852-scott-sues-broward-supervisor-of-elections-as-florida-senate-race-spirals
Shades of 2000... All we need now is some "hanging chad"... ;D
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline TomH

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Are there any other congressional changes that are meaningful to space policy?

IMHO, Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) retirement is possibly more significant than Nelson's loss. Hatch was president pro tempor of the senate, the highest ranking position in that body, higher actually than McConnell. He was also chairman of the senate finance committee, which oversees financial distribution of over half the federal budget. The SRBs for SLS, CxP, and now SLS were/are manufactured in Utah (first by Morton Thikol, then a succession of other companies buying out the factory). Hatch's immense clout has always made those SRBs necessary for the survival of NASA's post Saturn V big rocket program of record; no SRBs, no big fat rocket.

SLS has long been jokingly called the Senate Launch System, mainly because of Nelson, Hatch, and Shelby (R-AL). With only Shelby left to push hard for SLS within the senate, support for the albatross could collapse.
« Last Edit: 11/09/2018 03:20 AM by TomH »

Offline Rocket Science

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Florida Gov race now in recount territory at 0.4%... Scott is still the Governor, fasten your seat-belts!
« Last Edit: 11/09/2018 06:12 PM by Rocket Science »
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline JH

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IMHO, Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) retirement is possibly more significant than Nelson's loss. Hatch was president pro tempor of the senate, the highest ranking position in that body, higher actually than McConnell.

The Senate pro tem has no meaningful power.

Offline incoming

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IMHO, Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) retirement is possibly more significant than Nelson's loss. Hatch was president pro tempor of the senate, the highest ranking position in that body, higher actually than McConnell.

The Senate pro tem has no meaningful power.

Neither does the finance committee w/ regards to the space program. But Hatch did have influence just due to his general seniority and relationships with other senators.  He certainly plaid a role in looking out for the solid rocket industrial base, but I wouldn't compare that to the influence of Nelson and Culberson at least in recent history.

Offline Bubbinski

Just in over the news: the FL Senate race is going to an automatic recount. Weíll see what happens with Bill Nelson, he could yet get reelected. Hoping that the new House leadership gets some space advocates.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline vulture4

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SpaceX has revolutionized the Cape, and with Blue we will soon double down on that future. I voted for Nelson, but unfortunately his main focus had become SLS, which is part of the past. The essential strategy for NASA now is to stay out of the way of (and hopefully facilitate) commercial spaceflight.

Offline Proponent

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John Culberson's loss is huge for planetary science. The Europa lander is almost certainly dead. I think that Europa Clipper will survive, but I also think that it's launch date might move back by ~2 years (depends on if the remaining SLS crowd believe that they need it to launch sooner rather than later to help with the initial flight rate).

Culberson's enthusiasm for planetary science is obvious and welcome, but I can't help but worry about his approach.  For one thing, he is to some extent short-circuiting the decadal survey.  For another, there is a long history, not just at NASA, of mega-projects squeezing and killing smaller projects as their needs grow until finally they themselves are killed, leaving behind little but piles of wasted money.  Writing into law that Europa Clipper shalt fly on SLS without any cost-benefit analysis by qualified parties is a good example of poor decision making.  While it obviously increases the mission's constituency, it also adds risk of cancellation and launch failure.  And whether NASA will reach Europa any soon with SLS than with Atlas V remains to be seen.

It may all work out fine in the end.  The mission may well fly, even if SLS is cancelled.  But I can't help shuddering a bit at Culberson's approach.


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