How can Congress save the Constellation program

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What does the Congress have to do to over ride this administration’s plans to cut the Constellation program?

This administration has decided to cut NASA's constellation plan. This plan includes the Orion crew capsule, Ares I, Ares V, and the Altair lunar lander. The Administration is proposing a raise to the NASA budget top line of 6.0 Billion dollars over 5 years FY 2011-2015 compared to FY 2010 budget, for a total of 100 Billion over 5 years.

the White House is proposing more than 120 program terminations, reductions and efficiencies that together are expected to save $20 billion in 2011. So how is Congress going to fight the cancellation of the Constellation program if they are faced with a 1.2 Trillion dollar federal deficit? If they try and save the Constellation program it will appear that they are not serious about cutting the federal deficit. The Congress cannot really use the loss of federal employees in this case, because with the actual NASA budget increase the Administration can point to additional jobs that will be created in other areas.

So what will be your advice to Congress if they try to save the Constellation program?


Save it? Screw it, IMO. Start over. Start designing the Mars ship. We don't need to go back to the moon. Think big. Think bold, as JFK did. Think Mars! ;)


I thought part of the Constellation program was to be able to reach Mars.

Also, this may or may not have been discussed in the nearby "Houston, we have an unsolvable problem' thread,
but either way, I think the U.S. simply cannot afford Constellation, because of the free market problems.

Getting to LEO does not seem to be a problem anymore. Maybe we should help Russia and others to build an orbiting spacedock ( ).

Super spacecraft can then be built at the spacedock, eliminating the need to launch expensive shuttles from
sea level.


Thanks guys, but I want to focus specifically on what method Congress can use to save Constellation. There has been much talk about Congress flexing its muscles by saving some or the entire Constellation program. What Congressional method do you think can be used for this?

This is just a thought experiment.


Gravity-Ray, I can tell you exactly what you need to do.

First, you need a petition with a lot of names. Depending upon the scale, you could take it to your representative or senator. From there it will be voted on several times on several levels until it gets out into a bill. Bill gets voted on, laws get passed.

If its a BIG enough petition (thinking nationwide) you could organize a march and deliver it to Congress personally. I do not think they would ignore the will of a big enough crowd.

IMO that would be the best course. Keep it peaceful, but as long as you are in the USA your right to petition and your freedom to assemble will be protected. This is the peaceful, legal, way to go about change, and this is how the Goverment was designed to begin with.

I wish you all the success in this, this program should be saved and Congress should not be so short sighted that they cannot see the benefit of "once you start something, you finish it" I would be happy to sign any petition set up, and I would be honored to march in order to save this program.



Actually Star to be honest I am not in favor of the Constellation program per se. I am also not totaly against it, for example I feel the Orion crew capsule is worth saving. I have mixed feelings about the Ares V. I think its too early to spend any money on the Altair program since we are still so far away from, and we should cross that bridge when we get to it. But I am totaly against the Ares I.

I was just trying to see if any of the really smart people on this message board could see a way that Congress can fight the will of the Administration on this matter.

I think your idea is very valid, and if there is enough interest in the people that can certainly be done.


I suppose it really would be interesting to see the suggestions.

Imo, however, the U.S. free market that builds space things and teaches scientists has become too

The republicans seem determined to not allow a slight increase to the tax rate on the wealthy, and so internal revenue is not as large as it could be.

The two points above simplistically illustrate a bad time for the U.S. to be building costly things that are limited to
merely going to the moon. I don't think it's so much 'a will' of the administration, as it is 'a responsibility' of the U.S..

What if hundreds of billions of dollars later all the U.S. can do is send small rockets to the moon? Wouldn't
it be better to get to the moon in more cost effective ways, and only then apply hundreds of billions to build
a manned lunar infrastructure and work on going further than the moon?

Gravity_ray, I'm glad to see you post distinctions within Constellation. It may even help more if you
also explain why and what it is about the various parts of it that you do like, and the same about the parts
of Constellation that you don't like.



I think that the Orion crew capsule is really a machine designed for going past LEO. It is much heftier than it needs to be for LEO (so I was against it being used to get 3 guys to the ISS, that was a waste of money). But in the capacity of getting people past LEO and to the Moon and Mars missions it makes very good sense to me. It was built basically by a commercial entity, and even though NASA contributed to it greatly it has much private money tied in it. I like that. It is a very robust system, and basically complete.

I also like the Ares V (or at least the idea of a Ares V). It is a monster. It can take as much as 188,000 Kg to LEO and as much as 71,000 Kg to TLI (which in my opinion is more important for getting big chunks to Luna). It is an impressive machine, but what I don’t like about it is that it’s really not built. So who knows if everything it totes to do is possible without massive money, or what will happen if it develops some unknown engineering problem. This is what NASA should have built, not the Ares I.

I think the work that was done on Altair was totally premature. I don’t think its wasted work because so much of it can be applied to landing people on the Moon later. So it can just be mothballed right now and taken out when needed. So it’s a good idea but way before it was needed. The money could have been used better for technology development such as Lunar suits, Lunar rovers, and ISRU technology development in the area of food production, Regolith utilization, and Solar farm technology demonstrations. Maybe even some work on an outer space nuclear power plant.

Ares I is a very lame idea. They were going to spend Billions on developing a rocket that was already obsolete before it was finished. SpaceX and Orbital can do what it was going to do earlier, and cheaper. By the time it was going to get finished for its primary duty the ISS, the same ISS would almost be at the end of its life, if not, certainly past its prime. A waste of time and money and basically lame. Why would NASA want to compete with private industry to get people to LEO was beyond me and almost certainly just a political decision.

I think what Congress should do instead of huff and puff is make a deal, save the baby and get rid of the bath water.


...but is it really Congress that is saying whether or not Nasa is allowed to build the baby?
Congress is giving Nasa money either way. Every year, Nasa gets money.

It may not necessarily be that Nasa wants to compete with the private sector. It could be that (imo)
many republicans just do not want the U.S. government to be well funded, and Nasa gets funded by
such government. Nasa could very well want to go to the moon and beyond, but has no choice.
The private free market sector decides how much money to charge for the various compnents, that
is something that Nasa and the U.S. government cannot control.

It's up to private sector, the U.S. free market decides if Nasa gets the parts to build the baby with.
But if you don't really think that the entire Constellation is worth saving, then there is no great loss if
we could not afford it to begin with. If you do want to save it entirely, then I 'm not sure if this thread will
sprout many answers, if it's not really Congress' decision or authority to determine what price the U.S.
companies are allowed to charge Nasa and the U.S. government for the rockets and components.

It makes me wonder if the question should be 'how can U.S. companies save the U.S. manned space program?' But would that require either another thread, or changing the course of this one? Many U.S. companies
are trying to bribe the government with lobbyists, and trying to force the highest ungodly price possible
to support high executive compensation. The U.S. is basically a corporate world, and it has got itself so out
of hand over the decades. The Apollo program was built a long time ago, in the last century.
Decades and decades ago, the U.S. minimum wage and the 400 wealthiest people were more in line within themselves, the government was better funded, and the free market prices had not managed to become so unaffordable. If a GM worker can make $50 an hour putting cheap headlight bulbs in new
cars, why would a U.S. company accept $10 an hour to glue a tile on a rocket? (so to speak).

Otherwise... why aren't many posters providing answers yet?


What's really needed is a real long mission spacecraft, meaning separate power and habitat sections connected by a truss and a docking hub for the RV and lander, not spam in a can for a trip of several months. Plasma drive of some kind, VASIMR sounds good, for a powered trip end to end. Cuts trip time, therefore microgravity and radiation exposure issues, the two big problems for human Mars missions.

Let "Orion", if you decide to keep the name, be stripped down to a lighter RV.


Considering over half of a trillion dollars goes into the defence system, and NASA's yearly budget is around 17 billion dollars, perhaps they could borrow some money from the defence budget, give it to health care and leave whatever NASA is doing, alone.

However I do agree with Jim, perhaps we could stretch our resources a bit and start focusing on Mars instead of the moon.
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