Senators Complain to Obama About Slow Progress on SLS

Senators Complain to Obama About Slow Progress on SLS

Five Senators from Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana wrote a letter to President Obama on Monday complaining about how NASA is using its FY2011 funding for the Space Launch System (SLS).

The Hunstville Times published the letter, which takes issue with how NASA plans to spend FY2011 funds and for not providing a report required by section 309 of the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. NASA submitted a preliminary version of that “section 309” report in January, but has repeatedly delayed sending the final version. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told a House committee in July that it may be fall before NASA is ready to officially announce its plans for the new heavy lift launch vehicle required by Congress.

The SLS is meant to be paired with a crew capsule — the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) — to take astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and to serve as a backup to commercial crew systems that NASA is helping the private sector develop to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville is expected to be the lead NASA center working on the SLS.

The letter complains that NASA’s FY2011 operating plan shows the agency moving forward with MPCV and commercial crew, but not expeditiously working on the SLS. Saying that the “misallocation” of SLS funds suggests that the Administration “has no intention of properly using appropriated funds,” the Senators “insist” that the section 309 report be submitted immediately.

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