Bolden interview; Nelson criticism; Supreme Court

Space News published this week an exclusive interview with NASA administrator Charles Bolden, where he, in part, tried to quiet the debate about the ability of NASA to develop a heavy-lift rocket. “The interim report that we turned in Jan. 10 was in fact an interim, and it did not say we could not” build an HLV on the schedule and budget laid out in the NASA authorization act. “We are a can-do agency so we did not say we could not do what [Congress] told us to do in the authorization act.” He said that the reference vehicle designs in that report will be the ones NASA will develop “if we can find a way to make it happen”; otherwise, “we will come back with alternatives that we will have developed through coordination with industry and the Congress.”

Bolden, in the interview, also distanced himself and the agency from the FY11 budget request released nearly a year ago, saying President Obama’s April 15 speech at KSC was “the new baseline”. “I don’t even go back to the budget rollout because that’s moot.” That budget rollout was criticized again by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) during a meeting with Florida reporters on Wednesday. Nelson said how the administration handled its plans for NASA was one example of “major mistakes” made by the White House with respect to Florida. Nelson said the budget proposal contained “disastrous” language that made it appear that the administration was ending human Spaceflight rather than restructuring it. Those comments echo similar language made by Nelson in previous months.

Yesterday the US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that background checks of employees and contractors by NASA are legal, after employees at JPL, claiming that they were violations of their privacy rights, sued to stop them. The full decision goes into much further details and includes a concurring opinion by Judge Anton in Salina, who disagrees with the plaintiffs’ claims of a right to “informational privacy” that “bars the Government from ensuring that the Hubble Telescope is not used by recovering drug addicts.”


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