While the Senate attempted to compromise on a path forward for human spaceflight through their bill, the House decided to take a vastly different approach last week.
If you watched the open debate last week, while it was refreshing to see, it was also incredibly sad that the issue of the day that garnered the most attention was on where the shuttles should be located post shuttle retirement rather than the direction this country should take when it comes to the future of human spaceflight.
A quick summary of the House version (with Amendments)
- Government launch vehicle/capsule to deliver crew to ISS with initial operational goal of no later than December 31, 2015. If a commercial vehicle is available and meets safety standards, then government system will be for
- Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle operational by end of decade
Adds an additional Shuttle Flight in FY2011
Guts Commercial Crew yet adds Loan Guarantee Program
Appears to gut the Flagship Technology Demonstration Missions, yet funds Space Technology for lower TRL technologies.
What surprised me the most was the comment by Pete Olson (U.S. Representative that includes JSC), that help is on the way implying that he believes this bill will save JSC and NASA. In my opinion it is a short-term solution, that while it employs people for the next few years it does not nothing to sustain human space exploration long term.
I’ve maintained through conversations and tweets that the path to success is a balanced portfolio where NASA (aka Congress and the President) invest in current exploration missions and investing in R&D for the future. Companies do this every year. They have a product line they sell, they invest in upgrading their product line, and they invest in R&D for future products. This isn’t rocket science.
We shall see what happens when the House and Senate bills meet one another in conference.