NASA To Senate: We Have A Problem

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Administrator Michael Griffin appeared before a Senate subcommittee and implored them to help accelerate replacement of the shuttle.

But to cover costs involved with bringing the Crew Exploration Vehicle through development and into operation, they will have to put off some other projects. Space station and other exploration research would suffer.

“We can’t do everything on our plate, and we have to have priorities and first things first,” Mr. Griffin said.

The shuttle has been scheduled for retirement from service in 2010. Deployment of the CEV would begin in 2014, based on current NASA timetables. Some Senators do not feel the four-year gap between space missions would be acceptable, a view that coincides with Mr. Griffin’s.

“The United States of America should always have its own access to space,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

One change to building the future CEV comes from Mr. Griffin’s office. Instead of winnowing a field of contractors’ bids to two and letting them compete though 2008, a single contractor will be selected in 2006.

Mr. Griffin envisions savings of $1 billion USD with this change, a significant departure from the plan implemented under former Administrator Sean O’Keefe.

No shuttles have flown since 2003, when the Columbia was tragically destroyed on reentry. NASA scientists have been working feverishly to enable the STS-114 Discovery mission to launch in mid to late July.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

NASA To Senate: We Have A Problem
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