The scramble in Congress to head the House committee on Space, Science, and Technology after November’s election has begun.

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The scramble in Congress to head the House committee on space after November’s election has begun.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have begun to quietly campaign to replace Rep. Ralph Hall as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology next year, according to Stu Witt, General Manager and CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

If Rohrabacher gets the chairmanship it will be very be good news for commercial space, and bad news for the NASA-built and very expensive Space Launch System (SLS). He has been a strong supporter of private space, and will likely want to funnel money to it from SLS.

I’m not sure giving private space more cash is necessarily a good thing, as that will encourage these new companies to be less efficient, more expensive, and more dependent on the government. However, getting SLS shut down will certainly help the federal budget deficit.



  • Joe

    The federal budget deficit in 2011 (the last year for which complete data is available) was $1.3 Trillion. The average yearly cost of the “very expensive” SLS is $3 Billion. That is about two tenths of one percent of the Federal Budget Deficit.

    Where is the other 99.8% of the money (another 499 such cuts) going to come from?

    I know you are against the SLS, but trying to use deficit reduction as an argument to cancel it is a real stretch.

  • wodun

    There isn’t any one big thing to cut. The three big things are SS, Medicare/Medicaid, and Defense. That’s 80% of our budget but none of those will be cut out of existence. If we want to lower deficit spending it will take lots of little cuts of worthwhile programs, including the big 3. There are always more worthy causes than money.

    When it comes to SLS people might like to see that program gone but (I hope) people want NASAs funding not to get cut. So cutting SLS wouldn’t necessarily lead to a reduced deficit but maybe less waste.

  • Joe

    Saying that eliminating SLS would be “less waste” is a value judgment argument that has been beaten into the ground. I hope we can agree not to beat it one more time.

    As to the rest of your post, I actually agree with it.

  • steve mac

    I’ve been a supporter of Rohrabacher for years and I don’t live in his state. He has been a consistent voice for space exploration.

  • Joe

    Rohrabacher is an interesting political character.

    He supported the Delta Clipper Project vociferously, but then it was being developed in his district.

    On the other hand, he just as vociferously opposed the Transhab Module (the basic concept of which was eventually picked up by Bigelow Aerospace).

    If you want to support him (even though he does not live in your district), keep in mind the old cliché. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

  • DougSpace

    A NASA study showed that the Falcon 9 was developed between 1/3 and 1/8h the cost had it been done with FAR regulations. So yes, the SLS should be cancelled. Two commercially viable Falcon Heavies docked on LEO makes the SLS redundant. But the freed money should go to a “Lunar COTS” program to extend commercial space through cis-lunar to include the ice of the lunar poles.

  • Joe

    It is interesting how any topic is always turned to singing the praises of Space X.

    It is not readily apparent what that has to do with the use of deficit reduction as an argument to cancel the SLS, since you seem to be saying that any money allegedly saved should be spent elsewhere not used to reduce the deficit.

    As far as the NASA study is concerned, if you really believe that simply changing a management style can reduce cost by a factor of three (much less eight) why not advocate the application of the same management structure to the SLS program? It should give the same kind of alleged saving there as well.

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