Space Access Update #87  7/19/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

Stories This Issue:

 - Key Weeks Here For Congressional RLV Funding in NASA, DOD 

 - FAA RLV Launch/Reentry Regs Comment Period Closes Tuesday 

 - Departed Friends

 - Thirty Years Since "One Small Step" - Editorial 


              Key Weeks For Congressional Space Funding 

Our two main Federal funding priorities this year are $50 million 
new money for NASA Future-X reusable rocket flight ops demos 
("X-Ops") done as small-business setasides in order to foster new 
competition in the space-launch market, and $35 million in new money 
for USAF reusable rocket upper stage work (the X-40B "Space Maneuver 
Vehicle").  (See for more 

Congress and the White House continue to maneuver over potential 
future surpluses, the '97 deficit deal spending caps, and tax cuts.  

Congress is trying to get the actual spending legislation, the dozen 
or so Appropriations Bills, done before the August congressional 
recess, so as to avoid late-September clock pressure (FY'00 actually 
starts October 1st) if the White House vetoes any of them. 

The '97 deficit deal caps have been partially dodged till now via 
creative accounting, but that won't work this year - the bills are 
coming due.  The combination of the post-Kosovo defense increase and 
deferred cuts coming home to roost would mean something like a 10% 
cut to (among other things) NASA next year, *if* the caps are held 
to.  The deficit hawks want to stick to the caps, the White House 
wants to forget about them, while much of the Congress is somewhere 
in between.  The probable result is a compromise - we'd guess NASA 
will still be cut, but likely by a lot less than 10%. 

The short version of what this means for us is twofold: 

One, the actual money bill for NASA, the HUD, VA, and Independent 
Agencies FY'00 Appropriation, is now scheduled to be "marked up" in 
committee on the Senate side this coming Wednesday, July 21st, and 
in the House on Monday July 26th.  These dates have slipped 
repeatedly in recent weeks, but we don't think there's much room for 
them to slip more without pushing them into September.  

The DOD appropriation, meanwhile, has already been passed by the 
Senate (with $25 million for USAF SMV), is likely to be passed by 
the House this week (with $12.5 million for USAF SMV), and (our best 
guess) will likely go to conference before the August recess - we 
plan to push hard for higher funding in the conference. 

Two, there will still be considerable pressure on NASA funding.  
Getting new money for Future-X reusable rocket flight ops demos, 
something we think is key to getting cheap space transportation in 
this generation, will take all the push we've got.  We also, alas, 
need to oppose startup funding for the "Spaceliner 100" airbreathing 
space launcher project, as a matter of priorities - the RBCC engine 
technology just isn't there yet, and there simply isn't enough money 
to do needed near-term rocket work and start a premature "NASP II" 
project also - "Spaceliner" proponents have talked about spending 
$500 million through 2004. 

If either of your Senators, or your Representative is on an 
Appropriations committee (you can check at we 
need you - yes, you - to write them a letter or give them a phone 
call, and ask them to:

 - Add $50 million to NASA Future-X for reusable rocket low-cost 
flight operations demonstrations done as small business setasides. 

 - Do not add any funding for the premature "Spaceliner 100" 
project, as a matter of priorities. 

The current deadline for the Senate is, Wednesday July 21st for the 
HUD/VA subcommittee markup, Thursday for the full Appropriations 
committee markup.  In the House, next Monday for the HUD/VA 
subcommittee markup, Tuesday the full committee.  These dates may 
yet slip again - but even if they do, your timely effort will be a 
huge help in getting what's needed in a very tight NASA budget. 

For more details on how to do this, see the Alerts we'll be sending 
out after this, or check our website,  Thanks! 

      FAA RLV Launch/Reentry Regs Comment Period Closes Tuesday 

The ninety-day comment period on FAA AST's NPRM (Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking) on Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) launch and reentry 
safety regulations closes Tuesday, July 20th - all comments must 
arrive at FAA in writing by close of business tomorrow.  For any 
procrastinators among the affected parties, the .pdf text of the 
proposed regulations can be found at 
with a posting date of April 20th. 

                          Departed Friends 

Most of you likely know by now that Pete Conrad, third man on the 
moon, only man to vertical-land rockets on two planets, and founder 
of the USL group of space operations companies, died last week after 
a motorcycle accident, and is being buried today in Arlington 
National Cemetary. 

Pete Conrad could have rested on his laurels after leaving NASA, but 
didn't - he continued actively advancing the space business as a key 
figure in the DC-X reusable rocket demonstrator program and then as 
founder and head of USL.  If he'd lived another ten years, we 
wouldn't have bet against him landing on the Moon again, in a ship 
his company owned this time - and he would have been at the controls. 

Pete Conrad had his head in the stars but his feet firmly planted on 
the ground.  Our sympathy goes out to his family and friends.  We'll 
miss him. 

                 Thirty Years Since "One Small Step" 

 - Henry Vanderbilt, Executive Director, Space Access Society 

Thirty years ago this Tuesday, I recall a hot still summer afternoon 
in the bunkroom of our vacation shack in the Connecticut woods, my 
ear glued to my (six-transistor!) radio, finally hearing those words 
crackling over the air - "Houston, this is Tranquility Base - the 
Eagle has landed."  I'd blown off going to the beach that day with 
the rest of my family, I was just too into following the Moon 
mission.  Once they were actually down safely I was excited enough a 
thirteen-year-old that my dad drove us both back up to Boston so we 
could watch the first moonwalk on our old black-and-white TV that 
evening.  I was totally pumped - a dream was coming true. 

If you had told me then that thirty years and near a half-trillion 
dollars later, the US would just be getting started on its second 
space station, twenty years after trashing the first, I would have 
thought you were nuts.  Thirty years and a half-trillion dollars?  A 
growing Lunar base for sure, likely a foothold on Mars too, miners 
fanning out to the asteroids, and the first probes to nearby stars 
leaving soon, that's what I would have reasonably expected. 

Tuesday July the 20th 1999 is a day to remember proudly what we've 
achieved in the past, but it's also a day to contemplate the decades 
of time and mountains of dollars we've wasted (and continue to 
waste) on bureaucratic self-perpetuation since Apollo.  "Keeping the 
team together" in hindsight was the recipe for institutional 
sclerosis in what has become the NASA-Industrial complex.  The 
massive manned-space part of the agency still hasn't recovered, and 
may never recover, absent political will to do what should have been 
done post-Apollo: Define a realistic new mission, and redesign the 
organization from scratch to meet it. 

In the last ten years, we've started moving forward again, taking 
chances again, building and flying X-vehicles, developing new 
engines (there are more new rocket engines in test in the US right 
now than at any time since the early sixties), and perhaps most 
radical of all, beginning to figure out how to do space the way that 
endures - at a profit. 

We are however doing this far more in spite of than aided by the 
institutional dinosaurs of the NASA-Industrial complex.  We don't 
see any practical way to reform them; the bureaucratic and political 
inertia involved is massive.  We anticipate that they will keep 
plodding along doing a hugely expensive minimal manned-space program 
until they stumble into some form of self-destruction.  

Our main hope is to bypass them, staying out from under the 
dinosaurs' feet when possible, giving them the occasional hotfoot 
when they do try to step on us. 

Not exactly the best of all possible worlds, thirty years after Neil 
Armstrong's giant leap for mankind - but it beats the hell out of no 
hope at all.  It's a good day to think about all the hard work still 
ahead of us, and to resolve to never dig ourselves a hole this large 

Space Access Society's sole purpose is to promote radical reductions 
in the cost of reaching space.  You may redistribute this Update in 
any medium you choose, as long as you do it unedited in its entirety.

 Space Access Society 

 "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System" 
                                        - Robert A. Heinlein