Space: August 6, 2001


NASA asked Congress to cover its $4 billion budget shortfall in the International Space Station, but Congress collectively laughed in contempt. Senators noted that NASA always expected to be bailed out despite causing most of its own problems. The Senate took President Bush's budget plan and made it worse for NASA. While they didn't take away much money (only $150 million, some of that redirected to upgrade the space shuttles), they did cap station spending at $6.678 billion through 2006, and moved human spaceflight funds into an account which NASA is banned from tapping to pay for the station. The Senate also insisted that there would be no increase in station spending unless the President certified that the increase was necessary, affordable, and would not hurt the science part of the program. Congress then ordered NASA to find a low-cost way to increase the planned space station crew size. NASA has determined that a design error in the "head parking system" caused the fatal crash on two of the station's three computer hard drives.--Stephen V Cole


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