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Senate revises NASA authorization to protect lunar lander award to SpaceX’s Starship

Even as the full Senate today begins its review of NASA’s newest authorization, the bill has been modified to grandfather in the contract award that NASA gave to SpaceX to build its manned lunar lander using Starship.

An earlier version of the bill had included language inserted by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) demanding NASA award within 30 days a contract for a second lunar lander. The modified bill extends that timeline to 60 days, but also specifically protects SpaceX’s contract award:

The Administrator shall not, in order to comply with the obligations referred to in paragraph (1), modify, terminate or rescind any selection decisions or awards made under the human landing system program that were announced prior to the date of enactment of this division.

The revised bill still puts NASA in a ridiculous position. Combined with Cantwell’s amendment, the agency will now be forced to name a second lunar lander contract within sixty days. Though it recommends doubling the money for this program ($10 billion over five years instead of ten), it does not actually appropriate it. Moreover, that new budget recommendation is still about one half of what NASA had originally requested in order to fund the construction of two lunar landers.

Not surprisingly, the entire bill [pdf] has become a pork-laden collection of spending put together without any concern for the needs for the nation. Instead, ithe 1,445-page long bill “is the proverbial ‘Christmas tree’ with a Table of Contents that alone is 15 pages” that different senators keep adding items to, making it a hodge-podge of incoherence.

The bill itself however still has to be approved by both the Senate and the House. While this should act as a corrective to make it more sane, don’t expect that. Instead, the more likely result will be that the two houses of Congress will combine together their own personal earmarks into one humongous bill.

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Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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