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Though it has appeared that many if not most members of Congress have been unhappy with the Obama administration’s efforts to shut down the Constellation program, I have always believed that in the end, Congress wouldn’t have the fortitude to force its desires on the President. The action yesterday by the House appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA to take a neutral position on Obama’s proposals demonstrates this. They are willing to give NASA the extra money that Obama propopses, but they also have said that a compromise between Congress and the President on the future of the manned program must be agreed to before the money can be spent. See also this story in today’s Wall Street Journal.
In other words, the appropriations committee has passed the buck to the House Science and Technology committee. I expect that committee will find a way to pass the buck somehow as well. And if they don’t pass the buck, I suspect they will work out a compromise that on the surface will allow committee members to claim they “saved” NASA, but in reality will do nothing of the kind.
In the end, I believe the American government manned space program is going to die. Whether the new emerging private space industry can pick up the slack in today’s American Soviet-style bureaucratic society remains an unknown.