Jeffrey LewisCongress kills NFIRE

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have killed NFIRE. Guess I don/’t need to finish my NFIRE Fact Sheet.

If you want to see the cuts yourself …

House Appropriations Committe Report, page 332, line 71.
Senate Appropriations Committe Report, page 177, line 71.

The Senate seems to have fenced the money, rather than cut it, but I haven/’t been able to figure out the conditions and am told NFIRE is dead and gone, at least for this year.

So, what do we need to kill next? There are two candidates: The XSS program and the Space-based laser.

1. The XSS program (the second satellite launches in November) will demonstrate “rendezvous and proximity operations” with other satellites. A defense official, speaking on condition of not being named, told Space News that the “XSS-11 [the second satellite] can be used as an ASAT weapon.”

2. The Space-based Laser (SBL). Oh, you thought MDA terminated the program just because Kadish testified before Congress that MDA “terminated Space-Based Laser development”? Oh, you poor naive person. Kadish said MDA “terminated Space-Based Laser development in favor of further technology development.”

Although the program office was closed and the budget contains money for decommissioning a test facility in CA, the rumor around town is that SBL went black: A declassified March 2003 Canadian Department of National Defence report suggested: “Recent hints of interest suggest [SBL] may be re-energized, but under different management and with no expectations of near-term breakthroughs – but possibly moving into /’Black/’ territory were progress will be concealed.”

MDA requested $256 M in FY 2005 classified spending for PE 0603879C Advanced Concepts, Evaluation And Systems (ACES). That is probably where SBL is now located.

There are outer things that worry me … For example, the Air Force will launch a classified payload in 2005 on a Minotaur launch vehicle. The Minotaur LV launches relatively small (<1000 kg) satellites into LEO — DOD ordered Minotaurs to launch the XSS-11 and NFIRE satellites. Guilt (or at least suspicion) by association.