A Ted Cruz telecon

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Last night I did a long radio appearance with Robert Pratt in Texas. While I was on the air with him he received a notice from Senator Ted Cruz’s office, announcing a press telecon today on the just-passed NASA authorization bill. Pratt asked me if I would be willing to attend that telecon as his press correspondence. I agreed.

The telecon has just ended. Cruz’s statements about that NASA authorization were very uncommitted and vague, though he clearly wants to encourage private space. He also was careful not to say bad things about SLS/Orion, since it sends a lot of money to Texas.

I asked him about the lack of any mention of Earth science research in the authorization bill. He noted that during the Obama administration NASA’S climate research had become politicized, and it is his hope that this will now end, that NASA will continue to do this research but that “it will no longer be used for political purposes.” Like his comments about SLS/Orion, this was a careful answer that avoided setting off a firestorm of controversy.

Cruz did say two things of note however during the press teleconference.

  • Cruz and family is having dinner with Trump tonight
  • Cruz has reservations about the Republican proposal on Obamacare

It appears that Cruz is putting aside the ugly events of the campaign in order to try to exert influence on Trump now. It also appears that he intends to discuss the bad Obamacare replacement bill with Trump, pushing for changes to it.



  • Laurie

    That sounds all positive, happy to hear it.

  • Edward

    SLS does not seem to have many detractors in high places. I suspect that SLS will survive the Trump administration, no matter how many commercial heavy-lift rockets, costing less and launching more often, come onto the market.

    Pledging allegiance to SLS
    If the intent of the plan, or at least the leaked email, was to shake up the status quo at NASA, including cornerstone exploration programs like SLS and Orion, the opposite seems to have happened. People have since lined up to profess their support for SLS and Orion as essential programs, whether NASA continues its ‘Journey to Mars’ or takes a near-term detour to the moon. …

    ‘The exploration of space for all purposes, including commercial spaceflight, is our interest. And to that end, the CSF [Commercial Spaceflight Federation] is announcing that we see many potential benefits in the development of NASA’s Space Launch System,’ said Alan Stern, chairman of the board of the CSF. ‘The SLS can be a resource that benefits commercial spaceflight.’ The CSF’s endorsement of SLS is particularly surprising since some of its member companies, such as Blue Origin and SpaceX, are developing their own heavy-lift vehicles that might ultimately be competition for SLS. …

    ‘CSF has evolved over the years. There’s a strong net benefit in SLS,’ Stern said.

    Alan Stern is the planetary scientist who was the principal investigator on the recent New Horizons mission to Pluto. There is a traditional competition for funding between manned space and planetary science, and that Stern is willing to endorse the expensive SLS, which sucks a lot of money away from projects that have more immediate usefulness, suggests that he currently believes that SLS will be useful, someday.

    I am not that optimistic for the prospects of SLS’s usefulness. Depending upon scheduling and funding, SpaceX’s Interplanetary Transport System (ITS) or Blue Origin’s New Armstrong may be available before any payloads requiring SLS come into existence. So far, SLS has no useful mission, outside of Orion’s voyages to the Asteroid Redirect Mission’s redirected asteroid. SLS, Block 2, and SpaceX’s ITS are expected to be able to lift about as much as the Saturn V, and I suspect that New Armstrong is being designed with the same payload capability, as well.

    From the Space News article: “This confluence of endorsements may simply be a coincidence: people expressing their support for SLS and Orion for their own reasons, rather than a coordinated campaign. And even without their support, any effort to eliminate or bypass SLS with commercial alternatives would likely face strong opposition in Congress, where many key members remain strong advocates of the rocket.

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