The chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that controls space spending has told the National Aeronautics and Space Administration he will not approve NASA's 1984 Galileo mission to Jupiter as presently planned.
In a Nov. 28 letter to Administrator Robert A. Frosch, Rep. Edward P. Boland (D-Mass.), chairman of the subcommittee on HUD and independent agencies, said he will block the Galileo mission unless NASA scraps its intention to split the mission in two and instead moves ahead with a plan to use hydrogen-powered engine called Centaur and a single spacecraft that can be separated into two when it reaches Jupiter.
"The committee directs that. . . Galileo can only proceed," Boland wrote Frosch, "if NASA develops a Centaur upper stage designed to fly a combined orbiter-probe Galileo mission in 1984."
Frosch said in a telephone interview that he needed time to respond to Boland's letter but pointed out that Boland's subcommittee is one of four congressional committees with jurisdiction over space spending. The others are the House Science and Technology Committee and Senate Commerce and Appropriations subcommitees.
"We certainly want to see what the other three committees think before we respond," Frosch said. "We threw out Centaur already because it would cost more than our present plan and because it would impose a burden on our space shuttle management team at a time when they have enough burdens."
NASA's present plan calls for two missions, one leaving Earth aboard the space shuttle in February 1984, the second a month later. The first spacecraft would orbit Jupiter and its four large moons, the second would descend into the planet's atmosphere.
Delays in development of the space shuttle and insufficient power in the engines designed to carry Galileo to Jupiter forced NASA to postponed it from 1982 to 1984 and divide what had originally been planned as a single mission.
Frosch told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee yesterday that postponing and splitting the mission will add $225 million to the $450 million cost.
Frosch has told Congress that if NASAwere to switch plans and use the Centaur engine it would add another $100 million to the cost and make Galileo a $775 million mission. The hydrogen-fueled Centaur would have to be made safe enough for transport in the manned space shuttle and would have to redesigned to fit inside the shuttle's cargo bay with the 4,500-pound Galileo spacecraft.
In his letter to Frosch, Boland argued that the switch to Centaur is worth the expense. He said Centaur could carry to Jupiter 50 percent more weight than the solid-fuel rocket engine now being developed for Galileo. m