Friday, April 1, 2011
More Fear Mongering from Space Coast Representatives
Rep. Bill Posey appeared before the House Budget Committee on March 30 to falsely claim that Russia and China have announced plans to colonize the Moon — and "they are not going there to collect and study rocks like we did."
On March 24, Florida Today published an editorial that lambasted Republicans who claim "the Obama administration is ceding U.S. human spaceflight to Russia."
That’s far from the truth.
President Bush made the call to fly U.S. astronauts aboard Russian rockets as part of his decision in 2004 to end the shuttle program in 2010 without having a new American rocket ready to replace the orbiters.
The move was supported by Republicans who then controlled Congress and Democrats backed it, too, when they took over in 2006. When President Obama entered the White House in 2009, the shuttle’s shutdown was well under way and the Russian policy long set.
The rhetoric accomplishes nothing, further poisoning the atmosphere when level-headed bipartisan leadership is necessary to steer NASA through the post-shuttle transition.
The editorial was an implicit rebuke of Rep. Sandy Adams, whose district includes Kennedy Space Center. Adams on March 17 sent a letter to House Budget Committee chair Rep. Paul Ryan in which she wrote:
Throughout history, scientific exploration has been a hallmark of the great nations — the ones that led. But once again, the Obama Administration's budget willingly ceded that leadership to China, Russia and India — countries that understand the importance of human space exploration. We cannot continue to accept this administration's assault on American exceptionalism and world leadership.
I addressed Ms. Adams' falsehoods in this March 24 blog. I also posted a March 22 e-mail I sent to Ms. Adams via her web site, and received an automated reply which promised a prompt response. So far, no response has been received.
Adams' Space Coast Republican congressional colleague, Rep. Bill Posey whose district includes Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, appeared on March 30 before the same House Budget Committee and managed to top Adams' nonsensical rhetoric.
You can read the transcript here, including his plagiarism of Adams' "U.S. will be ceding its leadership in space to China and Russia" line.
Posey went further than even Adams had dared.
Human space flight is a matter of national security. Space is the world's military high ground, our Golan Heights if you will.
By ceding our leadership to other nations such as China, Russia, and India we would be literally giving them the ultimate military high ground.
China and Russia have announced plans to colonize the Moon — they are not going there to collect and study rocks like we did.
Let's start with the basics.
The National Aeronautics and Space Act specifically states that all military uses of space are the purview of the Defense Department, not NASA.
... activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States (including the research and development necessary to make effective provision for the defense of the United States) shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, the Department of Defense ...
Posey appears to have fabricated his claim that "China and Russia have announced plans to colonize the Moon." When? Where? How? Unless he saw a press conference the rest of us missed, Posey simply made it up.
Then he claimed, "They are not going there to collect and study rocks like we did."
Well, they're not going there, at least with people.
But China did announce on March 2 that they intend to send a robotic probe to the Moon in 2017 to collect a rock sample and return it to Earth.
So he lied about that too.
Republican or Democrat, in my opinion the Space Coast deserves better representation in Congress than those who fabricate wild claims to advance a partisan agenda.
UPDATE April 3, 2011 9:00 AM EDT — Florida Today columnist John Kelly adds his insight into Rep. Posey's remarks.
The agency remains partly paralyzed by a lack of action by Congress, as much as anything else. Posey was trying to raise that concern with the members of the committee — and the concerns are on the mark. NASA needs direction and a budget. Other members of Congress joined in the expression of outrage, pointing fingers at NASA leadership and the White House for not implementing the new space policy.
Why isn't NASA hurrying up to build the super-sized rocket that Congress wants developed? Why isn't NASA moving ahead with important decisions about how to achieve the goals it's been assigned? The chief reason is that Congress hasn't done its job and passed a federal budget to fund the policy put in place.
I have to disagree with Mr. Kelly's assertion that Posey was merely speaking out against inaction by Congress. The rhetoric in his statement placed sole blame on the Obama administration and fabricated tales to support his position.