SLS Press Conference — Live!

The SLS announcement is being made in the Senate Building, not at NASA as is the custom

Senator Bill Nelson makes the opening remarks — he explains the configuration and safety features of the Senate designed launch system….A bit odd…

Bolden up second…..he calls Kay Bailey Hutchison (a fellow Episcopalian)  the “queen bee” of this rocket system….

Bolden reads some prepared remarks….new chapter in American space exploration….a great day for NASA and the nation….yada yada yada…..did our due diligence on this thing….

First development flight targeted for 2017 with future flights to follow…

Kay Bailey Hutchison

Looking forward to this day for a long time…..didn’t want to run up costs unnecessarily….hunkered down with Bolden and Nelson to focus on time table yesterday….important that OMB, NASA, Administration and Congress were on the same page….

Believes that a heavy lift is the element that America needs to maintain preeminence in space….

wants to see contracts modified right away so they can move forward with SLS….told this can be done within weeks, maybe a week

will do markups on budget tomorrow….

will restore America’s preeminence in both space science and space exploration with this plan…

did someone really call me the “queen bee”….not too happy with that….

Q.  Can we afford this?


Is it going t be tough? Yes. But, the Administration took the time to scrub the numbers properly and verify them. The Administration will spend $3 billion on this effort over the next few years. Believes this is sustainable.


Commercial crew for the intermediate term, SLS for the long term and the Webb Space Telescope. Members on my side have put forth large cuts in the budget, but have not cut NASA’s core mission.

Q. Where are you in the investigation of NASA?


Sen. Rockefeller and I will discuss it and see if there’s any part of it needs to be closed. There was a release of information about a large increase in the cost based on hypothetical scenarios. That’s when Sen. Nelson and I came out and said that this was an attempt at sabotaging the plan.

“Sometimes the making of the sausage isn’t pretty, but we’re at the right end, I hope.”  We still need to see the timetables, and we hope everyone is working enthusiastically, but if we see a good timetable, we will be in good shape.

Press conference ends….A detailed press event is set for noon EDT on technical details…

Editor’s Note: I hope to hell that NASA extracted an iron clad commitment from the Senators to back the commercial crew program at full funding….if the House plan to freeze the CCDev budget at $312 million, that program will take forever and cost far more money and might not be financially viable for providers’ business cases…

Actually, if they get a fully funded CCDev program and a heavy lift program that can deliver flights by 2017, that would give NASA a lot of capabilities to play with by late in the decade….it would be able to go anywhere it wanted, providing the funding is there for the missions….a friend of mine who works on these things believes that if the capacity is there, people will find uses for it…So, maybe this isn’t such a bad compromise, providing we can actually use these capabilities effectively…

ATK comes off pretty well in all this. The system will use the five-segment SRBs initially. They’ve got the unfunded Space Act Agreement for the commercial Liberty rocket based on the same SRB.

Keeping the highly skilled workforce together and working was mentioned during the press conference. That has a double edged meaning. On the one hand, it’s about jobs back in the states and districts. On the other, it is a highly valuable asset that becomes increasingly difficult to reconstitute the longer it is dispersed.