"Smith and the committee are making it clear that if they need to cut anything, they are going to cut the funds to the commercial space program. This is the program that is providing the U.S. three different commercial systems for getting humans into space, and doing it for about $3 billion total, over the entire life of the program. This is also the program that will likely accomplish this within the next five years, and then be able to provide us routine manned flights to low Earth orbit on a regular basis, repeatedly, for relatively very little additional money.
"Instead, these politicians want continue the funding for the Space Launch System (SLS), which is costing us about $3 billion per year, and will only fly its first manned mission in 2021, at the earliest. And even if that first manned mission comes sooner, SLS will only be able to fly once every few years, at the most.
"This choice by Congress illustrates several things. First, they have no interest in saving money. They want to fund the pork in their districts, at high levels, and this is best provided by SLS.
"Second, they have no interest in getting Americans back into space. Even if SLS finally flies in 2021 — something I seriously doubt — it will not provide us with a practical and cost effective ferry for getting humans to and from ISS, as these Congressmen seem to think. It costs too much to fly. ISS needs a cheap and efficient ferry. SLS can’t do that.
"Finally, the decision by Congress to favor SLS means that there will be little money for NASA’s planetary program, unless Congress makes believe that money grows on trees, and funds it anyway. And sadly, that is apparently what they are doing, based on the information in the first story above. The Senate is funding everything.
"In the end, nothing will get funded. In the end, this whole charade will fall apart, and the American nation will find that it can do nothing. It will be bankrupt. And this will happen because of a refusal by the American people, and their representatives in Congress, to face reality and deal with it maturely, as adults."