Senators claim administration seeking to "undermine America's manned space program"

This morning Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking member of the full Senate Commerce Committee and chairman of its space subcommittee, respectively, issued a press release about the status of the administration's plans (or lack thereof) for the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket. The press release came in response to a Wall Street Journal article earlier this week that claimed the administration was suffering from "sticker shock" about the potential development cost of the SLS, as well as the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), and other exploration systems. That article warned that the total cost of those systems could exceed $62 billion through 2025, particularly through the use of an unspecified "accelerated" approach. Hutchison and Nelson, in their release, argue that the leaked cost estimate is just another step by the administration to stall development of the SLS. "No one has proposed to accelerate development," they write. "We and others have – repeatedly – demanded that the administration's budget office simply follow the development plan that the President signed into law last year." They claim that NASA's internal cost studies, and the independent assessment performed by Booz Allen Hamilton, had validated the plan for the SLS, and that the White House "should proceed immediately according to the reasonable, achievable development timetable embedded in federal law, and preserve America's pre-eminence in space science."

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