Space Access Update #90 10/22/99 
               Copyright 1999 by Space Access Society 

      Summer 1999 Congressional Reusable Launch Funding Results 

First, we have one solid win to report - the FY'00 Defense 
Appropriation bill currently awaiting the President's signature 
added money to the USAF Phillips Labs account where Space Maneuver 
Vehicle lives; we understand $15 million of that will go for SMV, a 
useful experimental reusable upper stage we've been supporting.  Our 
thanks to everyone who helped make that happen. 

And then there's the NASA (HUD/VA) Appropriation...  On the raw 
results, we got smoked - we got our hopes up a few weeks ago when 
the Senate provided $100 million extra for generic advanced space 
launch technologies, but this transmogrified in conference to an $80 
million earmark for the "Spaceliner 100" ultra-advanced airbreathing 
launcher project.  There was not one new cent in the final HUD/VA 
bill for the Future-X low-cost "Pathfinder" flight demos we support. 

As best we can tell, the immediate reason why this happened is, this 
is what NASA told the Appropriators they want - a jump start on a 
half-billion dollar "Spaceliner" project over the next few years.  
Reusable rocket work with some chance of paying off in less than a 
generation simply wasn't a priority.  ("Spaceliner" was one of a 
number of things NASA got inserted into this HUD/VA Appropriation at 
the last second; another was some rather controversial Station 
commercialization language.) 

Obviously we have a problem with differences between our priorities 
and those of NASA HQ.  They feel they've already done more than 
enough for us (X-33, X-34, X-37) while we think they've done far 
more to us and despite us than for us (X-33).  We've been watching 
closely this divergence of views for a while; we'll be going into 
detail next issue - but we're already overdue reporting the 
immediate results for this summer's campaign. 

The good news is, NASA was likely going to spend several tens of 
millions on "Spaceliner 100" anyway - they have considerable 
flexibility in how money gets spent within the overall Aeronautics & 
Space Technology account, where both Future-X and Spaceliner live.  
This explicit add of $80 million for Spaceliner means they now have 
some money they could, if they want, free up for nearer-term payoff 
projects - such as some "Pathfinder" low-cost reusable-rocket 
concept hardware demo projects, starting this winter, genuinely open 
to the startups so as to begin increasing the vendor base beyond the 
usual suspects. 

"If they want" is the key.  As best we can tell, NASA HQ does not 
currently so want - but we still have time to change their minds for 
this year.  We may be trailing eighty million to nothing, but we 
still have at-bats coming up. 

Thanks, everyone, for the hard work over the summer.  We've at least 
prepared the ground for good things to happen; now the game changes 
and we have to slug away some more.  More on all this next week. 

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