Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dr. Griffin on the Augustine Committee - Part 3 of 11

3) ... While it is certainly true that Bush Administration budgets did not show any funding for ISS past 2015, it was always quite clear that the decision to cancel or fund the ISS in 2016 and beyond was never within the purview of the Bush Administration to make. ... The fact that some $3+ billion per year will be required to sustain ISS operations past 2015 is, and has always been, a glaring omission in future budget projections. ...

This lack of funding for ISS budget projections past 2015 is a real issue. This is a real concern for the international partners and potential U.S. ISS users, suppliers, and so on. The Augustine Committee had to address this issue because it's in their charter. In fact, they did include extending ISS to 2020 in all of their serious options, as Griffin suggests they do, so I'm not sure why he's objecting.

The problem is that Griffin's exploration plan falls apart after 2016 if that money is shifted to support the ISS. Why didn't he structure an exploration program that could handle this? If he couldn't, why didn't he raise an alarm? It is an amazing and irresponsible thing to develop an exploration plan that assumes that the ISS will be deorbited in 2016, when you expect that won't happen. Where did Griffin think the $3+ billion per year was going to magically come from? Why would a future administration not just cancel the then 10 year old Constellation program, given the discretionary nature of that program, when presented with this discontinuity?

In spite of what Griffin suggests, this is not just a strawman. If the Augustine Committee exposes this issue and gets it resolved one way or another, so there is no doubt in anyone's mind about what the ISS plan is, it will have done a great service.

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