NASA Will Present Five-Year Plan Feb. 10; Who’s Sabotaging Congress?
Feb. 3, 2020 (EIRNS)—NASA Administrator James Bridenstine will release the agency’s five-year (Fiscal Year 2020-24) plan and budget for Artemis, the “Moon-Mars mission,” on Feb. 10 and present it to Congressional committees shortly after. Supporters of the mission, the subject of a LaRouche Political Action Committee mass pamphlet in 2019, also look forward to what President Donald Trump may say about space exploration in his State of the Union message Feb. 4.
The House Science Committee’s NASA authorization bill H.R.5666, marked up last week, clearly does not support the mission as the President and Bridenstine have put it forth; it shuts down the crucial aspect of industrialization and development of the Moon, in favor of a supposedly direct human trip to Mars in 2033. An open letter released today by many “Concerned Scientists” in the space field, takes the House to task for this.
According to a Jan. 27 article by Eric Berger for “Ars Technica” website (“House Legislators Want To Hand NASA’s Human Spaceflight Program over to Boeing”), H.R.5666 should be called a Boeing bill. It reserves the next decade’s future of NASA space travel to Boeing and/or the United Launch Alliance (Boeing plus Lockheed) exclusively, for major cost-plus contracts, and requires that all the product thereof become NASA-owned. The immediate big cost-plus is an “Exploration Upper Stage-enhanced Space Launch System,” combining the Alliance’s Space Launch System (SLS) with an upper stage being built by Boeing, incompatible with the Artemis Gateway system planned by NASA.
Boeing is, in effect, lobbying successfully against NASA Administrator James Bridenstine with Congress. Berger writes, “There is only one company—Boeing—that has proposed building an integrated lunar lander, has the contract for the Exploration Upper Stage [not wanted by Bridenstine for Artemis], and is building core stages for the [SLS] rocket. Boeing has also tried to minimize use of the [lunar] Gateway. With the House bill, legislators seem to be trying to take NASA’s human exploration program and give it over to Boeing Company, going back to an era of cost-plus contracting.”
Boeing meanwhile has reported a 37% drop in revenue from 2018 to 2019, a yearly loss of about $650 million with a sharp rise in indebtedness to $27 billion; it will still be taking additional writeoffs of up to $4 billion for its aircraft business and more than $400 million for its Starliner program bidding to take astronauts to the International Space Station.