Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The team of STS-131 at Pad 39A

While NASA prepares for the flight of space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-131 in April, politicians around the country are arguing both for and against the new directives and budget from the White House.

Senators and congressmen scramble to propose legislation to force a different outcome. Even today, the "Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act" was introduced in the House of Representatives. This bill, if successfully passed, would extend the ISS mission till 2020 (as does the current proposal), compel NASA to keep flying the shuttle (which is scheduled to be shut down after this year), and accelerate the construction of a "next-generation NASA space vehicle." Unfortunately the bill does not provide (in my opinion) sufficient funding to achieve such goals. Not likely to pass- it also lacks enough direction.

In the meantime, commercial space providers continue to push forward. Space X attempted a test-firing of their new Falcon 9 rocket (at Canaveral station in Florida). An unfortunate glitch shut down the engine just as it almost started. They will try again in a few days. The Falcon 9 will be used to send robotically controlled cargo ships to the ISS, and eventually, human capsules.

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