Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s bill for authorising human spaceflight does not differ markedly from the leaked 9 February dated bill text revealed by Hyperbola last week

The Interesting changes are the following:

  • Bolden must submit a National Space Transportation System plan within 90-days
  • Complete shuttle review within 90 days – there was no time limit before
  • plan for continuing Shuttle at two missions a year until alternative is found
  • Within 60-days of the act publish human spaceflight requirements
  • complete market assessment of commercial crew industry within 120-days

Two other surprises that require clarification are the following;

[a National Space Transportation System] architecture of government developed and operated space transportation systems, including one or more launch vehicles and associated crew [emphasis added] and cargo carriers;

OK one or more launch vehciles could be Atlas and Delta or Ares I but why would it be one or more government developed crewed spacecraft?! And then there is this from the heavy lift development section of the bill:

include consideration of the degree to which alternative vehicles may be developed in an evolutionary fashion with the objective of supporting initial crew and cargo transportation to the International Space Station by the end of 2013

are they really saying 2013 for a heavy lift evolved vehicle that can transport crew and cargo to ISS?

Other aspects of the bill that make more sense include the idea of using commercial crew transport more often, instead of government supplied services, as its flight rate and safety track record is more established; and unsurprisingly, because of the critical role Shuttle can play in what is set to be a long transition period covering Obama’s term and the next president’s term, the bill requires the maintenance of the Shuttle programme’s facilities and supplies

One element of the original bill Hyperbola hasn’t touched upon before and remains in the new version is this soft landing vehicle that needs to be developed for for 1,000kg of experiments that would be brought back from ISS. Perhaps this could be a collaboration with Europe and its Advanced Transfer Vehicle plans?

Overall the actual bill from Hutchison has only made things more interesting and busier for Bolden and his team. Lots of reviews for suere and for Hyperbola’s ideas of what could happen next go to this blog posting that I was working on earlier today