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Space Access Society Political Alert 12/27/94:
X-33 Future-Year Budget Problem

(X-33 is of course the proposed NASA/DOD high speed [possibly eventually upgradable to orbital?] single-stage reusable rocket testbed, intended as integrated flight proof of all the technologies needed for followon fully reusable single-stage orbital transports.)

We have indications that OMB (White House Office of Management and Budget) may want to remove X-33 funding from their "outyear" (a projection of the next five years) budget planning, and thus possibly from the upcoming FY'96 budget request they'll be sending to the new Congress in late January. (This is more likely a result of the current round of public budget-slashing than of any strong opposition to X-33.)

We think this is a bad thing because it will lead to a situation where the Administration won't (on paper at least) be supporting X-33 funding. (NASA will likely get the funding regardless; our preliminary read of the new Congress is that support for X-33 is strong, and that Congress will probably fund X-33 whether the White House requests it or not.)

So where's the problem? Well, we've talked Congress into providing DC-X funding these last two years after the Administration didn't request it - and look how much trouble we've had getting the money actually spent. DC-X has been grounded waiting for already-appropriated funding for approximately ten out of the last fourteen months. (DC-X, by the way, currently looks like flying again well before the winter is out, before the handover to NASA for the DC-XA conversion. Details when we have them.)

The situation with X-33 shouldn't (fingers crossed) be quite so bad, since X-33 has a lot broader support in the White House and NASA than DC-X had. Nevertheless, X-33 will go a good deal faster and smoother over the next few years if the White House is officially behind its funding from the start.


SAS Action Recommendation

The Message:

We recommend that you call, write, or fax the White House, and ask that they support full funding for NASA's X-33 project. (In the upcoming FY'96 budget request and in the "outyears" too, if you want to get technical.)

If you write, tell them in your own words why you think X-33 is important to our nation's future. Significant savings on space launch costs, improvements in our international aerospace industry competitiveness, and long term economic growth are worth mentioning.

Keep letters to one page, make your main point at the start, then follow up with explanations. Keep calls brief: state your main point, then thank them for their time and ring off - unless they ask you to explain more, in which case by all means do. Don't try to cover more than one subject with one letter or call; you risk confusing things and diluting your message.

And of course, always keep it polite.

The White House should be submitting their initial draft of the FY'96 budget to the Congress in late January. Life will be a lot easier for the people who have to make X-33 fly if the money is in the budget from the start. The next two years of SSTO work could go a whole lot smoother than the last two if we get White House support now.

Go for it, and a happy New Year to us all!

     White House phone: 202 456-1111
                   fax: 202 456-2883
                  mail: President Clinton
                        The White House
                        1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
                        Washington DC 20500
P.S. - We understand that "president@whitehouse.gov" might or might not actually get email through to someone in the White House. It can't hurt to try this in addition to one or more of the above contact methods, but we can't recommend relying solely on email if you want to be heard.

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Netscape HTML Checked! January 5, 1995 - Robert Lentz (ralentz@ralentz.com)

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