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Up to 9000 Jobs to be lost at the Cape after the Shuttle goes Obsolete

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Up to 9000 Jobs to be lost at the Cape after the Shuttle goes Obsolete

Post  sc4ram on Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:10 pm

Thought Id post a few articles about the upcomming retirement of the Space Shuttle and its impact on Central Fla.



US space companies present Soyuz-busting price plans
17:21 22 March 2010

Matching Russian rides to the International Space Station after the space shuttle retires will be difficult without "extraordinary" US government help, a senior NASA insider said on Thursday. But the private space firm SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, says it is ready to step into the breach by undercutting the current $50 million-per-astronaut round-trip ticket for travelling to the ISS aboard the Russian Soyuz craft.

"We can guarantee crew flights to the ISS for less than $50 million a seat," SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell told a hearing held by the US Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation.

If the shuttle retires as planned later this year, Russia's three-person Soyuz capsules will be the only way to reach the ISS. The White House hopes that private companies will eventually offer rides to the space station and aims to spend $6 billion over the next five years to help them do so.

But on Thursday the senators heard doubts about whether suitable vehicles will be commercially viable and whether they could compete with the price of Soyuz seats, which are currently offered for about $50 million – the price that SpaceX promised to beat.

"How much it is subsidised we can't tell, but it will be very difficult to match their price," retired astronaut Thomas Stafford said on Thursday at the hearing.

Fair price
"[It is] a difficult case to make that this will be a commercially successful vehicle without extraordinary participation from the US government," said Malcolm Peterson, a former NASA comptroller.

"Our fair price is going to have to be an amalgam of our national interest in the venture and however we want to parse the value of being able to create a commercially viable vehicle." Peterson said he would be surprised if a private US version of Soyuz would cost less than $400 million per launch. For a three-seater, that would be more than twice as expensive as the Russian modules.

Although SpaceX says it can undercut the Russians, Frank Culbertson from Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, which has a contract with NASA to develop vehicles to carry cargo to the ISS, suggested the cost of a Soyuz-like mission would probably be $300 or $400 million.

With NASA's Constellation programme axed and the US private sector not yet ready to get the nation's astronauts into space, Shotwell said that the US should worry about its reliance on Soyuz: "After the shuttle is retired, it is not apparent what price Russia may demand for rides to the American-built portion of the ISS," she said.
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Fleet Finale likely to be bumped to January

Post  sc4ram on Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:15 pm

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Space City USA Faces Staggering Blow

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 02, 2010 12:05 pm

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NASA will help probe Toyota acceleration problem

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:12 pm

A dissapointing scenerio, from the Final Frontier to Goober's gas station .

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100330/ap_on_bi_ge/us_toyota_recall_8
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The Best days of NASA are over

Post  sc4ram on Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:29 pm

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NASA plans big boost to climate research budget

Post  sc4ram on Sat Apr 03, 2010 1:43 pm

Given that in my former job, I did some contracting with NASA, I observed most of the staff and management were enthuiastic supporters of global warming theory because it meant they could get more approproated monies to build Spacecraft to "study" it. (more money was always the goal so as to have projects for the staff to work on and maintain the departments that could work on various space projects in the post Cold War era) The irony here is that now that the administration has cut the next (Constelation) manned Space program out of the budget in lieu of more global warming study. I dont think that is what the NASA big wigs had in mind.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/31/AR2010033104062.html


Last edited by sc4ram on Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ERAU students protest NASA cuts

Post  sc4ram on Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:33 pm

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Space Shutle Discovery Launches To ISS

Post  sc4ram on Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:41 pm

Hope you got to see the launch this morning in the pre-dawn hours. I had a spectactular view from my house in south Brevard, I was able to hear (rare for my location for a launch) the shuttle break the sound barrier, it rattled the facia on my house and started several dogs barking around the neighborhood.



http://flametrench.flatoday.net/
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NASA's $500 million launcher missing just one thing: the rocket it was made for

Post  sc4ram on Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:50 pm

NASA's $500 million launcher missing just one thing: the rocket it was made for

A $500 million mobile launch tower for NASA's Constellation program. The rocket it's meant to launch might never be built.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLA.

-- Anyone need a $500 million, 355-foot steel tower for launching rockets into space?

There's one available at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Brand new, never been used.

The mobile launcher has been built for a rocket called the Ares 1. The problem is, there is not yet any such thing as an Ares 1 rocket -- and if the Obama administration has its way, there never will be.

President Obama's 2011 budget kills that rocket, along with the rest of NASA's Constellation program, the ambitious back-to-the-moon effort initiated under President George W. Bush.

People here were shocked when they heard the news last month. They were already facing the imminent retirement of the aging space shuttle, and the likelihood of thousands of layoffs in the contracting corps but many hoped to find a Constellation job, stay on site and essentially just switch badges.

Now suddenly, they're looking at no shuttle, no Ares 1, no NASA-owned spaceship of any kind in the near future. American astronauts for years to come will hitch rides to space on Russian rockets.

"It's almost like losing manned space flight," said Michele Kosiba, 44, a quality inspector for United Space Alliance.

The space center is a unique place, built on a flat expanse of marsh and scrub that knuckles into the Atlantic. Long, straight, government roads are lined with ditches patrolled by alligators. Launch towers stand sentinel on the horizon. From here, the United States launched some of its most spectacular national achievements. But the decision to kill Constellation has shrouded this part of the world in an unfamiliar gloom.

People are dismayed and bewildered. Obama has gotten the message and will fly to the Kennedy Space Center on April 15 to hold a space conference and a town hall meeting. He is certain to point out that his budget actually boosts funding for NASA. The new NASA strategy shifts the task of launching astronauts to low Earth orbit from traditional government contracts to commercial contracts. If the private sector can create a taxi to space, NASA can focus on new technologies and longer journeys in the solar system.

"We think it's exciting," NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., a former astronaut, said in an e-mailed response to questions. "It will enable us to do things we can only dream about today. It will foster new industries, spur innovation, create jobs and lead to more missions, to more destinations, sooner, safer and faster."

A presidential commission, led by former aerospace executive Norman Augustine, reported to Obama last September that the Ares 1 would have limited use and that the heavy-lift rocket necessary for a moon mission probably wouldn't be ready until 2028. At that point, the panel said, there'd be no money left in the program for a moon lander or moon habitat. In effect, the Augustine committee said Constellation, which has already cost $9.4 billion, was destined for a (metaphorical) crash landing.

"We could get to the moon and do what?" said Dale Ketcham, a University of Central Florida professor who runs a think tank called the Spaceport Research and Technology Institute. "The taxpayers would really be ticked off: Sixty years later we go back and plant the flag and go home."

Lawmakers in Congress in both parties, particularly those in districts with space jobs, have given the Obama plan a cold reception. Congress still must approve Obama's budget. Until that happens, Constellation maintains a ghostly existence as "the program of record."

Which means that, every day, workers are still adding elements to the mobile launcher. Across the country, work continues on Ares and the new crew capsule, Orion. The Orion launchpad abort system will be tested later this spring in New Mexico. Even if Congress sanctions Obama's plan, the administration expects to spend $2.5 billion just closing out contracts and shutting down Constellation.

NASA employees and contractors on the Cape say they were caught off guard by the new strategy.

"We just pulled the rug out from human space flight," said Jim Bolton, a NASA manager for shuttle processing. The morning of the announcement, Bolton said, "People were just truly shocked. 'How can that be? Cancel Constellation? What are you talking about?' "

Bolton spoke as he stood directly beneath the shuttle Atlantis, which was jacked up in its processing bay and completely shrouded in scaffolding and fuel lines. The orbiter is being prepped for its 32nd, and most likely final, journey to and from orbit. From below, some of the gray thermal tiles that keep it from burning up upon reentry are slightly scuffed, but it's still a pretty spiffy spaceship.

"It's such an awesome machine," said Tim Keyser, a mechanical lead in another orbiter bay. "It's not old. I go in the midbody, it's pristine. It looks like it rolled off the assembly line."

People here talk of the orbiters -- Discovery, Atlantis, Endeavour -- as if they are beloved members of the family. There are only four shuttle flights left, with the last scheduled for September, though the timetable could slip a few months. Some lawmakers are scrambling to keep the shuttle flying, perhaps with a drawn-out flight manifest.

Howard DeCastro, shuttle program manager for United Space Alliance, the primary shuttle contractor, said the shuttle is flying better than ever. The main challenge for shuttle extension is restarting supply contracts that have already shut down. It would take two years, for example, to produce a new external fuel tank for an additional shuttle flight. Still, DeCastro said, "there are no showstoppers in flying the shuttle longer."

What will really hurt, workers say, is the disappearance of the know-how accumulated over decades here at the Cape.

"We lose that knowledge base, it's very hard to get that back," adds Chris Loines, 43, a United Space Alliance contractor who has been launching rockets his entire adult life.

Soon, a taxi to space

The administration has promised to spend $2 billion upgrading the Kennedy Space Center. But workers here said they don't know what that means, exactly. They don't want to work on facilities, they want to work on spaceships. Terry White, a United Space Alliance worker who supervises the thermal protection system on the orbiters, said that putting money into KSC without a spaceship is like having a fancy showroom with no cars to sell.

Ketcham said the decision to retire the shuttle has only recently hit home.
"There was this communal epiphany -- 'Oh my God, they're going to cancel the shuttle.' And then we plunged into the classic five stages of grief. And rational thought is not one of the stages of grief," Ketcham said.

NASA isn't the only game in town. The Cape is shared by NASA, the Air Force and commercial rocket companies. On the Air Force-controlled side of the Cape, one will find the commercial rockets named the Delta IV and the Atlas V, each with a dedicated launch complex. And there's a newcomer on the block: the Falcon 9.

This is the rocket built by SpaceX, a private company founded by Internet tycoon Elon Musk. SpaceX has a contract with NASA to launch cargo to the space station. The Falcon 9 has never flown. Framed by lightning towers, the 143-foot rocket is poised on an old Titan rocket pad, having been raised to the vertical position by two hydraulic jacks.

The scene is rather calmer than what you'd find at a NASA site. A low building holds cubicles and a couple of dozen workers. A few technicians in hardhats can be seen poking around the base of the rocket. In a hangar where the rocket is built, a lone figure sits at a desk. The commercial route figures to be cheaper than the traditional government route to space.

SpaceX would like a modified version of the Falcon 9 to become the commercial taxi to space. The first test flight could be mid-April, right about the time Obama visits the Space Coast. Musk has estimated the chance of success on the first try at between 70 and 80 percent. The final preparations include the installation of an auto-destruct system, said Scott Henderson, mission assurance director for SpaceX.

If it blows up, Henderson said, "It's not going to get outside the fence here."

From the SpaceX pad, looking west across the scrub of the Cape, the visitor can see the new NASA mobile launcher, parked for now near the huge Vehicle Assembly Building. Could SpaceX use that launch tower? Conceivably, Henderson said. But it's not really designed for a rocket like the Falcon 9, he said. SpaceX certainly doesn't need it at the moment.

NASA officials insist that they could still find a use for the half-billion-dollar tower even if the Ares 1 never materializes. But space technology tends to be highly customized. A worker on his way to the cafeteria the other day was overhead saying he wanted to climb the mobile launcher "before it becomes an artificial reef."

DeCastro, the United Space Alliance executive, said he doubted the mobile launcher could be useful without the Ares 1.

"It's just a big old tower now," DeCastro said. "I guess you could sell it to SeaWorld or something and put a big ol' slide on it."
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Air Force seeks efficiencies for America's rocket fleet

Post  sc4ram on Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:33 am

potential for more work to leave the cape:

Air Force seeks efficiencies for America's rocket fleet
Posted: March 29, 2010

In an attempt to streamline procedures and relieve cramped manifests, managers could transfer some Atlas and Delta rocket missions from Florida to California and assign U.S. military payloads to specific boosters closer to launch, according to the Air Force's top space official.

"We're looking at better ways to manifest satellites on a particular rocket. Right now, we do that about two years in advance," said Gary Payton, the undersecretary of the Air Force for space. "A particular satellite is married to a particular launch vehicle about two years in advance."

Officials are considering reducing that time to cushion the impact of a payload problem on downstream flights in the launch manifest.

The unavailability of payloads has triggered ripple delays on the Atlas and Delta launch schedule more often than rocket problems.

"That inhibits our launch rate independent of infrastructure and workforce," Payton told Spaceflight Now last week.

"What we're probably going to do is assign perhaps more than one satellite to any given launcher until maybe a year before launch," Payton said. "That way it's easier to accommodate spacecraft development slips that occur after an assignment."

Another option being reviewed by the Air Force and United Launch Alliance brass is to move some high-inclination flights from Cape Canaveral to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets, called Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles by the Air Force, can launch Global Positioning System satellites from either coast. The next generation of critical navigation satellites, known as the GPS 2F series, will begin launching from Florida in May.

ULA operates the EELV rocket fleet for military, NASA and commercial missions.

"We would like to be able to get to the point where we can project six months or a year down the road that we're going to have a surge of launches all ganged too close together, that we may pull a GPS launch over to Vandenberg," Payton said. "The same rocket and orbitology allows you to launch out of Vandenberg.

The only issue is whether proper facilities are available at Vandenberg to prepare GPS spacecraft for launch.

"Before we add that flexibility into our future, we have to understand the ramifications of doing that," Payton said. "We are looking at it, and it is something I would love to have in our hip pocket if we get too many launches packed too close together at the Cape."

Michael Gass, ULA's president and CEO, said in February there is "serious discussion" about moving compatible launches from the East Coast to the West Coast.

The EELV manifest at Cape Canaveral is historically busier than the launch schedule at Vandenberg. Atlas 5 and Delta 4 vehicles have flown 10 times from Florida in the last two years, while the West Coast launch base has hosted just a single EELV flight in the same period.

Classified satellite projects managed by the National Reconnaissance Office have hopped coasts before. Top secret naval surveillance satellites have been launched on different versions of the Atlas rocket from Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral.

"For new programs, it's something we may want to consider up front," Gass said. "It's whole lot easier designing a program up front versus changing a program mid-stream."

Busy launch schedules are nothing new, especially at Cape Canaveral, where Atlas and Delta rockets have operated at nearly full capacity for the last year.

The Air Force has surged funding into the program to cut turnaround times for the Atlas 5 and Delta 4 boosters. Atlas 5 rockets can now theoretically launch 45 days apart at the Cape. There is no fixed turnaround time for the Delta 4, but that rocket's processing timeline has also been compressed, Gass said in a February interview.

The extra funding permitted ULA to add more employees to a second shift in vehicle processing and flight analysis.

Easing launch schedule bottlenecks is the subject of one of about a half-dozen reports the Air Force will deliver to Congress on the EELV program in the coming months.

Other topics the military is reviewing include tamping down rising launch prices for the EELV fleet.

Payton said Atlas 5 and Delta 4 rockets now go for between $120 million and about $165 million per flight, depending on the configuration needed.

Those prices are far below the $500 million the Air Force paid for each Titan 4 rocket launch before the EELV program took over the Pentagon's space lift requirements.

But officials are concerned costs could be forced higher because the EELV flight rate is too low to adequately address fixed costs at critical suppliers, including Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, the builder of the RS-68 and RL10 hydrogen-fueled engines.

Pratt & Whitney manufactures the Space Shuttle Main Engine and was expected to build the J-2X engines to power the second stage of the Ares 1 rocket, which was canceled with NASA's Constellation program under the White House budget request Feb. 1.

Testifying March 10 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Payton said EELV propulsion system costs could double. During the hearing, Payton highlighted effects of the Constellation program's termination on Air Force launch costs.

But Payton said the roots of the problem can be traced long before Feb. 1, and the military started working to address the issue last summer.

"Our cost concerns on EELV precede NASA's Constellation program [cancellation]," Payton said Thursday.

The Air Force could buy multiple Atlas and Delta rockets at a time, allowing suppliers to realize economies of scale to keep marginal costs down and spread fixed costs across more vehicles.

"Right now, we buy very inefficiently, and we admit that," Payton said. "One of the reports to Congress was something they called a multi-vehicle buy, where we could go in and buy maybe a whole year's worth of rockets."

The Defense Contract Management Agency and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are studying the EELV program's supply chain to determine what each Atlas and Delta rocket should cost.
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Astronaut mourns shuttle end ahead of mission

Post  sc4ram on Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:52 pm

A US astronaut mourned the closure of the "tremendous" NASA space shuttle programme Thursday, as she prepared to blast off to the International Space Station (ISS).
"It takes my breath away. To see that go away is very bitter-sweet," NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson told reporters at a news conference at Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

"It's bitter because we're saying goodbye to such a tremendous part of our space programme," said the astronaut who has flown as a crew member on the shuttle.

"It's sweet in that it was so successful and it brings to a close in such a positive way something that brought us success in all kinds of ways."

The US Discovery space shuttle is set to be mothballed at the end of this year, after which US astronauts will only be able to travel to the ISS in Russian three-seater Soyuz spacecraft.

The first shuttle launch in 1981, timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's historic first trip into space, is now seen as a defining moment of the Cold War space race.

Despite losing the shuttles Columbia and Challenger in a pair of disasters the programme was considered a resounding success and soon took on the lion's share of responsiblity for transporting US astronauts.

A successor to the Discovery is scheduled to take off no earlier than 2015.

Caldwell Dyson was set to blast off Friday onboard a Soyuz to carry out a six-month resupply mission with Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko.

The astronauts will spend two days in the cramped Soyuz capsule before arriving at the ISS, where they will join US astronaut Timothy Creamer, Soichi Noguchi of Japan and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov.

The crew members plan to organize an improvised football match onboard the ISS to celebrate several members' birthdays in April, Skvortsov told journalists.

"Since Tracy likes football, it's possible that we will organize it on the station. But we haven't decided yet what we will use as a ball and how we will score goals," he said.

On Thursday the staff at Baikonur, which Russia has leased from Kazakhstan since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, were busy putting the final touches to the rocket, helped by a local Russian Orthodox priest.

The priest's flowing white robe fluttered in the wind as he doused the rocket with holy water, a recently introduced ritual that would have been unthinkable in Yuri Gagarin's day.

Rock musician Sergei Skachkov entertained the astronauts and their relatives with a song about homesick cosmonauts, titled "The Grass of Home," that has become an unofficial anthem of the Russian space programme.

"We wrote and recorded the song in 1983. At that time we couldn't imagine we would be singing the song for real cosmonauts," he told AFP.
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Why so Loud?

Post  sc4ram on Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:05 pm

I mis-spoke in a earlier post, I attributed the sound wave I heard from Monday's launch of the Shuttle to the vehicle's breaking of the sound barrier, that was not the case per yesterday's Fla Today (below) . Hope u got to see it, it will probably be the last nite launch of the shuttle.

Why so loud?
Discovery's pre-dawn Monday blastoff reverberated up and down the Space Coast and across much of Central Florida, shaking windows and providing an early wake-up call for many.

NASA said atmospheric conditions -- including moist, "saturated" air and breezes blowing from the east -- combined to amplify the rumble generated by the shuttle's 7 million pounds of thrust, making it sound louder than usual.

"It wasn't just people's perception, it really was a loud launch and you could really feel the pressure wave on this one," said Allard Beutel, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman.
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NASA extends Soyuz contract to reach space station

Post  sc4ram on Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:39 pm

NASA extends Soyuz contract to reach space station
(04/06/2010 8:21 PM EDT)

WASHINGTON — In a further sign that NASA is proceeding with plans to end the 30-year-old space shuttle program by as early as the end of the year, the space agency said it has extended its contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency to ferry astronauts to and from the Internatonal Space Station through 2014.

NASA said Tuesday (March 6) that the fixed-price contract extension worth $335 million will cover the transport of crew members on four Russian Soyuz rockets in 2013 and return crews in 2013 and 2014 on two additional Soyuz rockets.

Along with crew transportation, the extension covers crew training and rescue along with delivering crew cargo and "trash disposal."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden signaled in February that the space agency would broaden its cooperation with the Russian space agency in order to ensure U.S. access to low-Earth orbit. The move stems from an earlier Bush administration plan to end the shuttle program this year with completion space station construction.

Critics have argued that space shuttle flights should continue while the U.S. decides what will replace the U.S. orbiter. NASA estimates it would cost about $2.5 billion a year to continue shuttle flights. That assumes that suppliers could quickly restart production lines to make items such as the shuttle's huge external fuel tank.

One of the last scheduled shuttle flights blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Monday. Flight controllers said Shuttle Discovery's Ku-band communications antenna failed sometime during the pre-dawn launch. The failure means the dish antenna, used to transmit TV signals to Earth and for radar tracking during the rendezvous with the space station, will hinder the flow of data between the orbiter and ground controllers.
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Kennedy Space Center to get $7.8B, but number of jobs stays hazy

Post  Unemployed In Orlando on Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:54 am

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Blueprint keeps KSC in the loop

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:46 pm

Thanks UIO, good read. Fla Today's take below. Hazy is probably a appropriate word for a lot of items in this budget.

http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=20104090337
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Shuttle Safer than ever?

Post  sc4ram on Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:45 pm

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Udall Bennet Ask President To Re-evaluate Constellation Cuts

Post  sc4ram on Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:21 pm

U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet met with NASA Administrator, General Charlie Bolden, to urge President Obama to re-evaluate his proposed cancellation of the Constellation program. While expressing support for certain aspects of NASA's funding in the proposed 2011 federal budget, both Senators voiced concern about terminating the Constellation program, which would provide a replacement for the retiring space shuttle fleet.
In anticipation of President Obama's conference on the NASA budget on April 15th, the Senators also presented General Bolden a joint statement of their concerns, urging President Obama to better explain the Administration's plan for the future of human space flight.

The 2011 budget proposal does include a welcome increase in overall NASA funding, providing enhanced support for research and development and the International Space Station. However, the President has proposed cutting the Constellation program, which is not only developing the replacement for the space shuttle, but also the vehicle to take humans back to the Moon and, eventually, on to Mars. It also provides thousands of high-paying jobs in Colorado and throughout the United States.

The Senators' letter to President Obama follows:


April 12, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

AIA Blakey Calls For A U.S. Space Strategy
West Palm Beach FL (SPX) Apr 13 - In a speech, this week, AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey asked President Obama to lay out a clear strategy for human spaceflight with concrete timelines and goals when he comes to Florida for a space summit this week.

"In 1962, President Kennedy didn't say we'd go to the moon today; he said, this decade," Blakey said at a meeting of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. "Despite the financial troubles that lapped at his feet, President Kennedy stepped up to the challenge and urged us forward, with a goal and a vision and a plan. Today, a lack of urgency and specificity will not sustain the vision and, as we know, where there's no vision, the programs - and the skills and workforce that go with them - perish."

President Obama is scheduled to speak Thursday in Florida on the future of the space program.

Blakey insisted that America needs specific metrics for a concrete commitment to human spaceflight beyond low earth orbit, including clear goals and milestones. Shifting the focus of human spaceflight programs is not necessarily a bad thing as long as the main goal is keeping America strong and in the lead.

"We require a roadmap for the future, with milestones along the way and a sense of urgency that space exploration is important to our country and proclaims in clear terms that this is who we are as Americans," Blakey concluded.


Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare for the April 15th conference on America's future in space, we want to share our thoughts with you on the proposed budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for fiscal year 2011, as well as outline some goals for a shared vision for the future of space exploration.

While there is much to like in the proposed FY11 NASA budget - including new investments in science and aeronautics research, extension of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, and an additional $6 billion over five years largely for development of new space exploration technology - the cancellation of the Constellation program raises many concerns. For Colorado - where the Orion capsule is being developed - this move would lead directly to the loss of over 1,000 jobs and indirectly to thousands more. More broadly, we are concerned that a reliance on unproven commercial providers for U.S. access to low Earth orbit (LEO) compromises America's leadership position in space. It is also unclear what, if anything, will become of the significant investment in Constellation to date.

We strongly support development of commercial launch capabilities and space services. Colorado is home to many companies on the cutting edge of aerospace, two of which recently won NASA contracts to further the commercial sector's capability to support transport of crew to and from LEO. We look forward to the day when the commercial sector can provide these services, freeing NASA to focus on development of new exploration technologies and human missions beyond LEO. However, the proposed NASA budget presumes that day is close at hand even though the commercial sector has yet to prove it can safely put a human into orbit. Should they fail to deliver, America will be reliant on Russian-procured launch services to ISS and LEO for the foreseeable future. This is an unacceptable position for the security of the nation.

The decision to terminate NASA's development of a follow-on to the Space Shuttle has other important implications for our national security. The Department of Defense (DOD) is currently examining the impact of this decision on the U.S. space launch industrial base. We rely on this industry to sustain our strategic deterrence mission and to assure access to space through launch programs. DOD officials have stated that Constellation's cancellation could increase the current price of propulsion systems for our launch vehicles. We understand that a DOD assessment of launch program cost impacts will not be completed until summer 2010, but it seems clear that the cancellation of Constellation will result in at least some of the costs of overhead and underutilized industry resources being passed on to DOD. As DOD does not yet fully understand the impacts on its space launch programs of cancelling Constellation, we are concerned the decision to end the Constellation program is premature.

We recognize that there are significant obstacles you must overcome with the Constellation program as it is currently configured, not the least of which is chronic under-funding. The blue-ribbon commission you convened to study options for the future of human spaceflight began its report by saying, "The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources." However, we believe there is a way forward that balances stimulation of commercial service providers with the proven capabilities of NASA and its industrial partners, a way that responsibly uses limited taxpayer dollars and allows NASA to continue to serve as an inspiration to future generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

We hope you will use the April 15th forum to describe in more detail how you plan to maintain America's leading role in space exploration, and look forward to working with you on a NASA budget that reflects that commitment.
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Obama expected to save Orion, bolster jobs at Kennedy Space Center

Post  Unemployed In Orlando on Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:55 am

Looks like they are making some progress Sc4ram, check this article from this morning about bringing Orion back.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-04-14/news/os-nasa-obama-speech-20100413_1_constellation-moon-rocket-program-emergency-lifeboat-space-station
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Obama plan adds jobs, revives Orion

Post  sc4ram on Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:26 pm

I saw that in my Wed Sentinel today. Sounds like the Prez realizes that Fla will be the key to his re-election (and probably made some trades with Ms Kosmas and Sen Nelson for their health care votes) . We'll see what comes out of the teleprompter tomorrow and what Congress finally puts in the budget. If he does a reversal, I'll feel a bit sorry for his NASA Director (Bolden), who has been selling the orginal budget of austerity and reduction and has told KSC employees to suck it up and "get over it". I'll bet he is thought of as a "boogey-man" over @ KSC . If this comes to pass I'll be happy for the employees, peripheral business', and tax collections that will get some relief. To be fair to the Prez, his orginal plan made a lot of sense to me and showed some fiscal restraint. (It appears that he may have just used this as a threat/bargaining chip to get votes for Health Care) , My only criticism was he came to Brevard County and implied he would support follow-on manned Spce programs then proposed a budget to the contrary. we'll see...........


http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100414/NEWS02/4140351/Obama-plan-adds-jobs-revives-Orion
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GOP wants budget cuts? Start with NASA

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:16 am

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Shuttle supporters vow not to give up fight

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:30 pm

umm, the Prez is offering 4500 jobs to replace the 7000 jobs @ KSC he is taking away with canceling of Constelliation in the backdrop of up to 9000 jobs going away with the retirement of the Shuttle. Quite a pitch given the Administration's somewhat dubious claims of "saved jobs" over the last year in light of a ~10% nationwide unemployment rate (~12% in Brevard Co).
Bet he wore out his teleprompter on that one.

This still has to go thru Congress, glad my job isnt hinging on this. Those poor KSC related employees in North Brevard must be ringing their hands .


http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100416/NEWS02/4160338/Shuttle+supporters+vow+not+to+give+up+fight
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President Promises trip to Asteroid

Post  sc4ram on Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:20 pm

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Obama’s plan for KSC jobs might be too little, too late

Post  sc4ram on Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:18 pm

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Re: Up to 9000 Jobs to be lost at the Cape after the Shuttle goes Obsolete

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