Bolden issues statement on Senate Appropriations subcommittee Commercial Crew vote
One need only view Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A and the large SpaceX logo that adorns the new building in front of the historic site to help judge how NASA views its commercial partners. During the Wednesday, June 10, vote on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2016 commercial crew budget, the committee opted to cut the budget request for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It should come as no surprise then that the vote left NASA’s current Administrator dissatisfied.
“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate Appropriations subcommittee does not fully support NASA’s plan to once again launch American astronauts from U.S. soil as soon as possible, and instead favors continuing to write checks to Russia.
“Remarkably, the Senate reduces funding for our Commercial Crew Program further than the House already does compared to the President’s Budget.
“By gutting this program and turning our backs on U.S. industry, NASA will be forced to continue to rely on Russia to get its astronauts to space – and continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Russian economy rather than our own.
“I support investing in America so that we can once again launch our astronauts on American vehicles.”
According to Parabolic Arc, the Obama Administration had requested $18.529 billion – of which the Appropriations Committee approved $18.3 billion. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program saw its budget request cut an additional $100 million from the House Appropriation of $1 billion. This is on top of an estimated $244 million which had already been cut from the space agency’s request.
A report appearing on SpaceFlight Now details how the ranking Democrat on the panel, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, will likely offer an amendment to add the $300 million to the CCP funding line during the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday, June 11.
During this recent vote, NASA’s exploration efforts fared better with the new super heavy-lift Space Launch System (SLS) booster receiving $1.9 billion, which is approximately $200 million more than the FY 2015 enacted level and, according to Parabolic Arc, $544 million above the actual request. The spacecraft that is planned to fly atop SLS, Orion, received $1.2 billion. While this marked no real change above the FY 2015 request, it was $104 million above the initial request.
Other organizations took a more neutral stance on the vote. What follows is a statement issued by the Coalition for Space Exploration regarding the CJS Appropriations Bill which was released on the afternoon of June 11:
Coalition for Space Exploration Statement on CJS Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Coalition for Space Exploration is grateful for the strong bipartisan leadership demonstrated by Chairman Shelby and Vice-Chairwoman Mikulski in support of our nation’s space exploration program in the FY 2016 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill advanced by the committee today. The emphasis and priority placed on the exploration systems and space science missions that will help return American astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for the first time in more than 40 years represents the Committee’s continued commitment to U.S. leadership in space.
We recognize that the Chairman, Vice-Chairwoman and members of this Committee worked under a very challenging budget allocation to prioritize funding for exploration programs, and we appreciate their focus on completing the human exploration systems and advanced space science programs that will ensure America remains the uncontested leader in space exploration for decades ahead. This bill, along with the strong exploration funding in the House CJS bill, represent a continued bipartisan and bicameral commitment to NASA and its exploration program.
About the Coalition for Space Exploration
The Coalition for Space Exploration is a group of space industry businesses and advocacy groups that collaborates to ensure that the United States remains the leader in space, science and technology by reinforcing the value and benefits of space exploration with the public and our nation’s leaders, and building lasting support for a long-term, sustainable strategic direction for space exploration.
NASA is currently working under what can be considered a two-pronged approach to space. On one side are the commercial companies, Boeing, SpaceX, and Orbital ATK, who are providing cargo and planned crew transportation services to the International Space Station. Freed from handling this responsibility, the space agency is working to return to the business of sending crews to distant destinations – such as a mission to remove a boulder from an asteroid and tow it into lunar orbit, and a mission to Mars.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.