An artist rendering of Boeing’s proposed CST-100 spacecraft being prepared for flight in Space Florida’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at KSC. / Boeing Co.

John Kelly: Commercial crew program is worst possible choice for NASA cuts

Feb. 23, 2013 8:40 PM

If political leaders in Washington are unable to reach a deal this week, NASA could be facing nearly $1 billion less funding than previously planned for during the next seven months or so.

That means some emergency, quick-action belt tightening to accommodate forced spending reductions implemented if elected officials can’t agree on other steps to reduce the nation’s deficit spending. So, what are agency leaders planning to cut? Well, one of the few programs in the space agency’s portfolio that seems to be working and on track. The effort to field a privately-operated replacement system for the space shuttle for the purposes of transporting U.S. astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station and, possibly, blazing a trail for more routine private space flight.

It appears from documents the agency is sharing with Congress that NASA plans to mothball its Commercial Crew program to incentivize private companies to provide a human-rated crew ferry for missions to low-Earth orbit. Commercial Crew is a small program in the grand scheme of the NASA budget, but it’s one that is showing documented progress and would be most hurt by a sudden interruption in funding. Analyzing the NASA budget, agency leaders surely could find other, less destructive means to cut spending.

Read more: John Kelly: Commercial crew program is worst possible choice for NASA cuts | FLORIDA TODAY |

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