Shelby Attacks Augustine Panel, SpaceX


U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama attacked the Obama Administration’s plan to review NASA lunar program and also dismissed the possibility that Elon Musk’s SpaceX could easily fill the spaceflight gap that will exist after NASA retires the shuttle next year.

The Orlando Sentinel quotes Shelby as saying:

“Instead of providing Constellation with funds to move forward, it is delaying the current mission while seeking to have a do-over on plans that have been authorized by both a Republican and Democratic Congress,” said Shelby, a Republican lawmaker whose state includes the Marshall Space Flight Center, which has a big role in building Constellation, set for a first mission in 2015….

“Unfortunately, the reality is that out of four attempts, they [SpaceX] have only delivered a single dummy payload to space, have never delivered any payload to the space station, much less a human. However grandiose the claims of proponents for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services part D (COTS-D) are, they cannot substitute for the painful truth of failed performance at present.”

This is hardly surprising; Shelby represents Huntsville, which is headquarters for a lot of the work being done on the Ares booster. If the Augustine panel recommends cutting the program or switching to expendable rockets, that could cost the city a lot of jobs.

The dis of SpaceX should give the ever chatty Musk some talking points as well as more street cred (if he needed any) with the worshipful NewSpace crowd.