The Appropriations Committee of the United States House of Representatives is about to get together to work on an election year budget. One of the hot topics is funding for NASA, and what to do with some of the programs. The Appropriations Committee is preparing to cut NASA’s budget to the levels of the 1950’s. Not in dollar amounts but in percentage of GDP. When they do cut the budget it will surpass last years low and be at .48% of GDP. The actual dollar amount will be in tune with the 2006 levels of spending at $19.57 billion.
Some of the programs that are being cut from are the Space Technology and Commercial Crew programs. They are going to add funds to the Space Launch System and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle which happen to be congressional favorites.
The one thing that the House needs to stay away from is trying to pick a winner. This is essentially what critics think they are doing in trying to force NASA into by suggesting that they abandon the 4 company competition for the Orion Crew Vehicle. “The Committee believes that many of these concerns would be addressed by an immediate down select to a single competitor or, at most, the execution of a leader-follower paradigm in which NASA makes one large award to a main commercial partner and a second small award to a back-up partner.”
There are some programs that Congress is trying to force but NASA neither asked for or has use for. These are the kind of programs that people hate because they are a waste of money. The biggest one is the Space Launch System. The SLS is a rocket that is required, by law, to have the capability to lift 130 metric tons to orbit. This is a requirement for the rocket even thought there is not a current mission or one in the foreseeable future that would require a rocket with that kind of horse power. It is also so expensive that NASA can only afford to launch it once every 2 years. Maybe they know more about the Mayan apocalypse than they are letting on?