A critique of recent bombast in Congressional hearings : Editorial | A Feckless Blame Game on ISS Crew Access - SpaceNews.com
Those who bemoan NASA’s reliance on Russia, yet shortchange the very program designed to fix that problem, are at the same time adamant that the agency spend nearly $3 billion per year on SLS and Orion, vehicles that for all their advertised capability still have no place to go. Their size and cost make them poorly suited for space station missions, even as a backup to commercial crew taxis, and in any case the first SLS-Orion crewed test flight won’t happen before 2021.
NASA currently lacks an independent crew launching capability because of decisions made a decade ago, the consequences of which were fully understood and accepted at the time. The longer this situation lasts, however, the more culpable the current group of decision-makers will become.
In that vein, the current criticisms of NASA and the White House might be viewed as a pre-emptive strike by lawmakers who sense their own culpability. But in pressing arguments that fail to stand up to even modest scrutiny, they not only undermine their credibility, they give NASA cover to pursue a Commercial Crew Program approach that might not be sustainable.
If restoring independent U.S. access to station is as important as the administration’s congressional detractors say, they should fully fund the Commercial Crew Program, even if that means slowing development work on SLS and Orion, while ratcheting up the pressure on NASA to select a single provider. Only then can Congress truly say it has done its part to resolve the matter.
More space policy/politics related links:
- NASA budget:
- General policy:
- Defense space:
- Earth observation policy:
- [FAA's] COE-CST: Spaceport Body of Knowledge library goes live on web + Emerging Space Industry Leaders workshop in May – NewSpace Watch
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