Today's space politics; Authorization vs NASA; Mendell interview

Jeff Foust discusses some space policy news of the day: [More China complaints; Rubio gets a space policy briefing – Space Politics][1]. === Justin Kugler of NASA JSC examines the NASA Authorization bill and discusses its implications: [What next for NASA? – Open NASA][2].

WRT the heavy launch vehicle requirements in the bill:

> While much has been reported about the Senate supposedly micro-managing the design of the Space Launch System, Section 302 (which covers SLS) is replete with caveats that give the NASA Administrator discretion on technical elements. This suggests to me that Congress may be amenable if NASA runs the numbers and stands its ground if they’re asked to do something that doesn’t make sense.

The concern is that Congress wants the Space Launch System to be at initial operating capability by the end of 2016. Under the existing funding profile, the Constellation Program’s Ares I rocket was not expected to be ready by that time and it was an arguably less capable booster than what Congress is asking for.

The only way NASA can accomplish this feat is if they have the technical and programmatic flexibility to develop a booster configuration that meets the schedule and budget constraints. If this turns out to just not be possible, NASA needs to be able to speak out without fear of political repurcussion.

=== The Space Show interview with NASA Moon guru Wendell Mendell is now available online: [Dr. Wendell Mendell, Tuesday, 10-12-10 – The Space Show’s … Blog][3]

> When I asked him a question about the possibility of returning to the Moon, he broke my question down into parts and had much to say on the issue, essentially saying that our return to the Moon never was and will not be off the table and that planning already exists for a return to the lunar surface. Don’t miss this important discussion and analysis.

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