NASA Defends 2013 Budget Request

Bolden
NASA Administrator Bolden
Image Credit: Space News

Responding to accusations by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing that the Administration was siphoning money from the Orion capsule and Senate Launch System (SLS) to speed up the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said:

We want to reach a date in the future where everything comes together. It doesn’t do us any good if I have an Orion vehicle that’s ready to fly a year before I have a launch vehicle. It doesn’t do any good to have a launch vehicle to fly a year before I have a crew module to put on it, and it definitely doesn’t do me any good if I have Orion and SLS teamed together and ready to launch sitting in the [Vertical Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center] because the launch facility is not complete.

Bolden noted that the earliest that the SLS could launch Orion is 2021.

As for the CCDev program, Bolden reminded the committee that NASA’s original request was for more than a Billion dollars, and that this was trimmed to $850 Million, which is what pushed the first launch from 2015 to 2017. With annual costs of $405 Million for Russia to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), the two year delay will cost American taxpayers an additional $810 Million. Bolden said, “this is going to be cheaper for the American taxpayer in the long run.”

Further reductions down to the Congressional proposal of $406 Million, might well cripple the entire CCDev program.

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