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This analysis of the Senate budget plan that passed the Senate Commerce committee today hits all the most important points. Key quote (in connection with the Senate’s mandate that NASA start over in building a new heavy lift rocket):
Over the last five years, Constellation has cost at least $9 billion and produced little more than one test flight for a stripped-down version of the program’s Ares I rocket. While the Senate plan instructs NASA to salvage parts of Constellation when possible – and provides $11 billion over the next several years — it will take time and resources to create a new design. Adding to the pressure is the 2016 deadline that Congress gives NASA to have the new vehicle ready.