Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Prominent Space Personalities Back Obama NASA Proposal

Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart is one of eight former NASA astronauts to sign a letter to Congress supporting President Obama's FY 2011 NASA budget proposal.

A common, yet false, claim by some opponents of President Obama's proposed FY 2011 NASA budget is that "nobody supports it" and that "all the astronauts are against it."

A letter released by 56 prominent individuals in the space industry emphatically proves the contrary.

Click here to read the letter on the Orlando Sentinel web site.

Addressed to "Members of Congress," it begins:

We, the undersigned space leaders, are strong supporters of human spaceflight. We are writing to urge you to both (1) fully fund the commercial crew to Space Station program proposed in the President's FY2011 budget request for NASA, and (2) accelerate the pace and funding of NASA's human space exploration projects beyond Earth orbit.

These twin pillars of human spaceflight are each crucial to the long-term health of our Nation's space program. They are also interdependent.

Among the signatories are eight former NASA astronauts and a self-described "commercial astronaut," the president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello, former KSC director Jim Kennedy, prominent space policy analyst John Logsdon (who was also a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board), former Space Shuttle Flight Director Dr. John Muratore, SpaceX founder Elon Musk, space journalist Miles O'Brien, and Space Frontier Foundation co-founders James Muncy, Rick Tumlinson, and Robert Werb.

In tangential news, the United Space Alliance announced it's joined the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, an advocacy group that supports the Obama proposal.

It would seem that ULA's declaration would rob Obama opponents of a major potential ally.

UPDATE June 23, 2010 — A participant over at Space Politics pointed out that the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, self-described as "NASA's largest federal employee union," supported Obama's proposal last April.

The last two Presidents have promised Mars as a Human Exploration destination, yet we are as far away from that today as we were when President Bush announced his Vision for Space Exploration. Why? Because near-term responsibilities and corporate interests have dominated decision making with critical long-term R&T postponed again and again. To those who argue passionately and cogently for a crewed mission to Mars, we say "show me the technology". For NASA to send humans to Mars (or an asteroid) and back, safely and cost-effectively, it first needs to make major breakthroughs in both spaceflight and human-support technologies. This will require long-lead research into in-space propulsion, power generation and storage, closed-loop life support, material science, space life science and human factors, automation, thermal protection, cryogenics, and other areas. One thing is sure; if we don't start, Mars will remain 20 years away forever.

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