News people don’t get it. They keep highlighting the drama senators like Shelby make over where NASA money goes, but they are forgetting that this is not as big a deal as they make it out to be.
Someone needs to tell Politico and the others that MSFC is not going to build the SLS! Sure MSFC wants to draw it up define requirements, and take it to a certain milestone, and contractors in Huntsville want to make all they can, but the reality is that it is not and never was going to be built AT MSFC. The bulk of the money goes somewhere else-the prime contractor.
Republican Sen. Richard Shelby has been one of Barack Obama’s most persistent critics, accusing the president of putting the country on a road to financial ruin with deficits as far as the eye can see.
But his demands to slash government programs tend to stop at the Alabama state line.
Here in his home state, Shelby has been pressuring the Obama administration to spend billions to build what could become the world’s biggest rocket at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville — a government project that would affect thousands of jobs, benefit a network of powerful industry interests and fill a major void at the agency after the collapse of the Bush-era Constellation initiative and the end of the space shuttle program in July.
Behind the scenes, Shelby has staked out Alabama’s turf against other states, attacking the administration for sending $340 million to Florida rather than to the Marshall agency and pushing NASA to put out bids for a key rocket engine, a move that could help an Alabama company at the expense of one in Utah. A provision he authored ended up directing $215 million to the scrapped Constellation program earlier this year, and he’s been a prolific earmarker, sending $185 million for a range of projects in Huntsville in the past few years, nearly half of which went to NASA programs.
What does Shelby really want? Yeah, there is some money there, but a lot of it is just ego and image. Shelby needs to make it look like he goes to bat for the home team, so that the Alabama media eat it up. Business as usual.Share