Confusion and Conflict Bode Poorly For NASA

Posted: May 19, 2010 in Congress, Constellation, Manned Space, NASA, NASA, Orion
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Space News reports U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski is troubled by the approach to the Constellation termination.

Aviation Week reports that NASA and Congress are inching towards compromise.

Between the two reports, I’ll offer that NASA is now just along for the ride. They’re stuck between having to deal with the administration’s massive redirect while concurrently having to face a Congress that appropriated the cash for them to do something significantly different.  Oh, and there’s those unhappy astronauts.

Congress may be especially displeased with the administration’s plan to abort five-years and $9 billion of work on the Constellation program while mysteriously choosing to sustain work on the Orion crew exploration vehicle (the ‘space station lifeboat’), a capability that will be redundant to a function Soyuz can already perform.

So is the NASA self-destruct warning light may be illuminated steadily?

There are also profound national security space industrial base issues that will roll out of all this, but it’s perhaps most grim for NASA.  Pay contractors termination fees to stop working?  Bad.  Throw away billions of dollars of existent work?  Bad.  Perhaps surrender U.S. leadership in manned space? Hmm…

Stability is the mother’s milk of any government acquisition program and we’re seeing its antithesis right now.

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