An URGENT Call To Action
There is a NASA Authorization bill up for vote tomorrow (Thursday July 15th) in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, in a session scheduled to start at 10 am Eastern time. This draft NASA Authorization makes drastic cuts over the next three years in both Commercial Crew development (and also sharply constrains that program) and in new space exploration technology, in order to pay for 2011 startup of a new NASA Shuttle/Ares-derived heavy-lift booster program plus continued development of the Orion crew capsule.
Our immediate options are limited. There are two amendments already prepared for tomorrow that would reduce the damage. The Warner Amendment would restore Commercial Crew funding and remove restrictions. The Boxer Amendment would restore some of the new space exploration technology funding.
If you are reading this before east coast close-of-business July 15th, and you are from one of the states listed below, please call or fax your Committee Senator. (If at all possible, make contact well before 10 am eastern.) If phoning, let the person who answers know you're calling about the NASA Authorization. They may switch you to another staffer (or that staffer's voicemail) or they may take the call themselves. Either way, ask them to support the Warner and Boxer Amendments to the NASA Authorization. Give one or two reasons briefly (EG, to support the US commercial launch industry, to enhance our national technological competitiveness, to support the President's NASA policy, to address the NASA problems pointed out by the Augustine Commission and restore NASA's ability to usefully explore, etc - see previous piece) then politely sign off.
Please read more here, most of which I agree with heartily. My main qualification is that I think there are reasonable arguments to continue work on the Orion capsule in the limited form proposed by NASA.
Here is a good summary of the draft authorization.
Here is a copy of the draft.