Bolden gets 2h with Obama, but the new vision won’t be agreed

by | Dec 16, 2009 | Constellation, exploration, International Space Station, NASA, Orion | 3 comments

Well that’s a generous interpretation because based on this presidential meeting schedule provided by US newspaper Florida Today that 3.05pm to 5.15pm slot is probably more like 90min – that consumer safety commission meeting is bound to overrun

But it does prove that when NASA administrator Charles Bolden told this journalist back in October that it would be months before he met president Barack Obama he was right. Bolden also told Hyperbola at the 60th International Astronautical Congress in Korea that he expected no decisions from the first meeting. Rather Bolden will present his ideas and Obama will ask questions and expect further meetings where the NASA chief can provide further answers

It became clear during this journalist’s IAC interview with Bolden that the timetable for the realisation of the Obama spaceflight vision could extend into fiscal year 2011, which begins October 2010Now Florida Today is weighing in with its own predictions of a long drawn out US human spaceflight decision process next year. Complicated further by the fact that the appropriations bill giving NASA $18.7 billion for FY2010 (almost three months late) has a clause requiring a Congressional vote to terminate the Constellation programme

When I asked Bolden about the timetable for the FY2011 presidential budget request and the ne spaceflight vision decision he said, “that’s the problem,” and then stopped himself and said, “that is the challenge” and he talked about getting “the vision right”

There is a very good chance that the new US human spaceflight vision will be decided long after the FY2011 budget request is published. The FY2011 request may have a FY2010-like clause where Congress would revisit the NASA budget once the review’s outcome is known – oh well that’s one deadline that whooshed past!

That would also tally with the FY2010 appropriations bill Constellation termination clause. A decision by Obama to opt for EELV or commercial or even Ares V Lite related flexible path roadmaps would trigger that Congressional involvement and perhaps even give Jon Stewart’s Daily Show some amusing debates

Then again maybe Obama will choose to use his 2010 state of the union address to announce the new vision but this blog thinks it unlikely

Florida Today is probably right, 2010 is going to see a long tortuous and potentially nasty process that will play out as the final five Shuttle missions take place. Uncertainty will reign as the curtains come down on the world’s only reusable spaceplane

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