House authorization bill focuses on pork


Readers!
 
My annual birthday-month fund-raising drive for Behind the Black is now on-going. Not only do your donations help pay my bills, they give me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.

 

Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


 

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
 
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

 

You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

A new House authorization bill for NASA would shift the agency’s focus from commercial space and getting to the Moon to building Artemis and Gateway and going to Mars.

A NASA authorization bill released by the House Science Committee Friday proposes major changes to the direction of the agency’s human spaceflight programs, with a goal to land crews on the moon by 2028, not the 2024 schedule set by the Trump administration.

The House version for NASA Authorization Act of 2020, which would set NASA policy if enacted into law, calls for the space agency to develop plans for sending a crewed mission to orbit Mars by 2033.

The bipartisan legislation would appear to stand in the way of any plans to build a permanently-occupied moon base or develop methods to mine water ice inside craters at the moon’s poles, which could be converted into breathing oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel.

The bill, not yet approved by the House committee despite support from the committee heads from both parties, differs significantly from the Senate bill, which places more emphasize on having NASA use private enterprise. For example while the Senate bill calls for NASA to hire privately-built lunar landers, the House bill wants NASA to build the landers entirely.

Read the whole article. The House bill could I think also be labeled the “Orange Man Bad for Space” bill, as it clearly seems designed to block almost all of the Trump initiatives to encourage private space and get a manned mission to the Moon sooner rather than later.

Share

10 comments

  • Richard M

    With the possible exception of the directive to NASA to study commercial alternatives to launch Europa Clipper, it looks uncannily like what Doug Cooke was pushing on Boeing’s behalf all of last year.

    Hope he gets an extra stocking stuffer at Christmas this year. He earned it.

  • Patrick Underwood

    Enjoy that new dacha in the Crimea, Doug! You earned it.

    In other news, House votes to replace the “N” in NASA with a “B.”

  • Bob Steinke

    Now we can have a Senate Launch System and a House Landing System

  • Edward

    If the House of Representatives gets its way, then NASA has almost certainly lost the race to the Moon, where the competition is commercial space. Since Starship is being designed to be capable of going to Mars, and NASA has yet to begin work on hardware for the Mars goal, SpaceX probably beat NASA to Mars when it announced the BFR class of ships, three years ago.

    I keep being amazed at how so many people still think in the old way of doing aerospace. They think inside the box when they should be thinking off the planet. Elon Musk publicly announced his philosophy for favoring rapid and inexpensive development over maximizing efficiency. As with most companies, he and SpaceX believe in getting products and services to market before the competition and at a hard-to-beat price.

    It is almost certain that SpaceX will take Yusaku Maezawa around the Moon in a Starship before NASA is ready to send anyone to the Moon’s region of space. SpaceX will likely land on the Moon not too long afterward, unmanned first, then manned. With the House’s time frame, the first woman and next man on the Moon are more likely to be members of the general public wearing SpaceX or Blue Origin emblems, not NASA’s. Considering SLS’s development, how likely is it for NASA to even get there in 2028?

    SpaceX has recently estimated that a basic orbital Starship mission will cost about $2 million in operational costs, where the refurbishment and amortization costs are not included. About a year ago, the estimated price tag for a Starship low Earth orbit mission was around $7 million. Compared to NASA and other government space programs, it would be a bargain at ten times that price.

    Commercial space is reducing the price of space access and operations far more than NASA is, which makes it almost certain that commercial companies will soon be able to afford to do amazing things in space for less cost than NASA can now do the ordinary.

    Congress seems completely ignorant of the changes that are rapidly taking place in the space industry. What once required the massive budgets of nations are quickly becoming low cost enough for small companies to accomplish. Small satellites have greatly reduced the cost of doing business and research in space. Commercial manned launches are currently around the same price as government manned launches, and the per-seat price can easily drop just by filling all seven seats rather than using only four. Putting commercial space habitats into orbit will be significantly less costly than putting up ISS, and similar amounts of science should be able to be accomplished in each of these commercial habitats. Orbital space tourism is seen as just around the corner, which governments could only rarely be talked into performing. Once space manufacturing begins, I imagine many products will be created for use on Earth, greatly improving our lives.

    Congress is stifling its own space agency at a time when the competition is about to skyrocket. Literally. It is just another reason why I think the House of Representatives is packed with idiots. This is an example of letting government be in charge, and all we get is what government wants — and on its own slow time-frame for the cost of a King’s ransom.
    https://behindtheblack.com/behind-the-black/essays-and-commentaries/washingtons-spectacular-effort-to-crush-the-american-space-effort/

    Axiom Space, Bigelow, Blue Origin, Ixion, Made In Space, NanoRacks, Reaction Engines, Rocket Lab, Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, and many others are examples of We the People being in charge, making sure that we get what we want, as soon as we can have it, and at relatively affordable prices.

  • Phill O

    The target dates 2024 vs 2028 have purely political purpose in my opinion.

  • Patrick Underwood

    “Congress seems completely ignorant of the changes that are rapidly taking place in the space industry.”

    Ed, I share your sentiment. But Congress is *keenly aware* of the changes, which is exactly why this is happening.

  • Edward

    Patrick Underwood,
    Why do you suppose that the House of Representatives would insist upon going the expensive soon-to-be-obsolete way rather than take advantage of current and developing low cost alternatives that are likely to be online sooner than the equipment that the House is supporting?

  • Milt Hays, Jr.

    To Edward and Patrick —

    You are both correct, and we are looking at pure, partisan politics / ideology at work — not *what’s best* for the country based on the rise of new technology and the vision and tenacity to make it work for everybody.

    Quoting Edward:

    Congress is stifling its own space agency at a time when the competition is about to skyrocket. Literally. It is just another reason why I think the House of Representatives is packed with idiots. This is an example of letting government be in charge, and all we get is what government wants — and on its own slow time-frame for the cost of a King’s ransom.

    Precisely. And while the *dimmer animals* in the House may not fully appreciate the sea change that is occurring in terms of putting payloads into space at ever decreasing prices, at least some of the upright walking *pigs* there understand — as Patrick suggests — that the trend toward free enterprise, private initiative, and universal low cost access to space is the very LAST thing that they want to support for the same reason that they do not want ordinary people to have firearms and the right to use them for self protection. These people are radical statists, and just like a government monopoly on force (guns), their ideology demands that the government exercise the same kind of control on who is / why people are allowed to go into space. If you can put yourself in their shoes (an unappetizing prospect, to be sure), you can appreciate just how desperate they must be to forestall this kind of thing. Thus the new authorization bill.

    Going a step further, we are presently at a unique — and quite possibly temporary — confluence of events where the good efforts of Mr. Musk, et al., are being enthusiastically embraced by the Trump Administration and a goodly section of an aware public who still understands the fundamental promise of low cost access to space. The problem, again, is that THIS PROSPECT IS ANATHEMA to leftists who do not want *ordinary* people to have access to this kind of freedom to travel and work in space, and they will do almost anything to stop / delay it (per the SLS program) for as long as possible. We stand at an incredible turning point in human history, with the prospect of our country carrying all of the virtues and values that Bob Zimmerman has recently described out into the Solar System, but let no one be unaware of the forces in government who desperately wish to stop this.

    Milt

  • Edward

    Milt Hays, Jr.,
    You wrote: “we are looking at pure, partisan politics / ideology at work

    From the article: “The bipartisan legislation would appear to stand in the way of any plans to build a permanently-occupied moon base or develop methods to mine water ice inside craters at the moon’s poles, which could be converted into breathing oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel.

    There was another reference to the bill being bipartisan and a quote saying that space should not be partisan. I do not think that this is a partisan issue.

    We stand at an incredible turning point in human history, with the prospect of our country carrying all of the virtues and values that Bob Zimmerman has recently described out into the Solar System, but let no one be unaware of the forces in government who desperately wish to stop this.

    Do they want to stop freedom and liberty, or do they hate Trump so much that they want to deny him an accomplishment in space, one that they think would be a Kennedy moment?

    Either way, if SpaceX or another company were to put the first woman and next man on the Moon in or near 2024, it would be an accomplishment on Trump’s watch, and some or many people (not Congress) would give Trump an amount of credit for it.

  • Michael G. Gallagher

    The Demosocialists control the House. Is it any wonder that they’re trying to shortchange private space efforts? Successful capitalists make socialists look bad. And if Beria Bernie makes it into the White House, the New Space movement, at least as far as America is concerned, is kaput.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *