Space Access Update #120  9/23/10
Copyright 2010 by Space Access Society

          URGENT NASA Funding Battle Action


In a surprise move, the House parties to the ongoing House-Senate negotiations over a NASA Authorization bill have unilaterally come up with a substitute version of their original (and very bad) HR.5781.  This new version of HR.5781 may be voted on as soon as tomorrow, Friday 9/24.  After a quick review of the new bill text, we strongly urge you to IMMEDIATELY contact your Representative and ask them to reject HR.5781 and instead approve the Senate version S.3729.


Briefly, the Senate bill is an acceptable compromise between the White House's NASA reform proposals and the House Science Committee's attempt to preserve the untenable Ares/Orion status quo.  This new bill from the House Science Committee does roughly split the difference between the Senate's (already marginal) Crew/Cargo and R&D funding numbers and the old House version's totally unacceptable numbers, and is in that sense a "compromise."


However, this new version of HR.5781 places a whole tangle of reviews, reports, certifications, and other requirements on Commercial Crew, the general effect of which cannot be other than to discourage such efforts.  It retains specific Commercial Crew poison pill requirements that neither NASA nor existing Russian providers have to meet.  It retains the old version's general support for continued development of something a lot like Ares/Orion, and (assuming that ever even flies at the reduced-yet-further-from-Augustine-minimums funding) it effectively then allows government competition with US commercial crew vendors via an "if practicable" escape clause on its "prohibition" of such competition.


All that aside, it is our understanding that, while this version reflects some of the previous negotiations with the Senate, it was NOT run past or approved by the Senate parties.  It is a unilateral move by the House Science Committee to preempt the process, and as such it will inevitably lead to more months of Congressional wrangling, more months of NASA paralysis and drift, increased vulnerability of NASA Exploration to the Deficit Reduction Commission's attentions, and more months of massive uncertainty for the workers and organizations involved.


Enough is enough.  We think it's time to settle on the Senate compromise, resolve this matter, and move forward.


          What To Do


We ask that you call your Representative's DC office (go to for their name and party, and call them via the US Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121), TODAY if at all possible and overnight or by early Friday morning at latest, and (politely!) tell the person you end up talking to (most likely a staffer or a staffer's voicemail) the following:

Ask them to vote against House bill HR.5781 (or any House-written NASA Authorization bill) if it comes to the floor this Friday or next week.  Ask them to instead vote to pass Senate bill S.3729 before the House recesses for the election.


- If your Representative is a Democrat, ask them to contact Majority Leader Hoyer in opposition to any NASA bill other than Senate bill S.3729 coming to the floor, and to request that S.3729 be brought to the floor for an up or down vote next week.


- If your Representative is a Republican, ask them to contact Minority Whip Eric Cantor in opposition to any NASA bill other than Senate bill S.3729 coming to the floor, and to request that S3729 be brought to the floor for an up or down vote next week.


- If your Congressman is a strong supporter of the House bill - Bart Gordon, Gabrielle Giffords, Alan Grayson, etc - politely explain that you strongly support S.3729, the Senate NASA Authorization bill, and you'd like them to also, because it's a reasonable compromise between the White House and House positions, and because NASA really needs an Authorization to let it begin moving forward again.

thanks for your time

Henry Vanderbilt
for Space Access Society


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Space Access Society
"Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System"                               - Robert A. Heinlein, as related by G Harry Stine