Wednesday, June 29, 2011

House Members Demand NASA Pork

Space Coast representatives Sandy Adams and Bill Posey were among the seven members of Congress who signed a letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden demanding he "stop studying and re-studying NASA's Space Launch System (SLS)" and "report to Congress on NASA's final plan for the SLS."

The seven signatories all represent districts with a NASA space center or major NASA contractor.

NASA delivered a report to Congress in January which concluded that "a 2016 first flight of the SLS does not appear to be possible within projected FY 2011 and out year funding levels." That didn't satisfy certain members of Congress who view NASA as a jobs program for their districts, not a national aerospace research and development agency.

Evidence of this is clear in the letter:

The best and brightest engineers and technicians in human spaceflight are leaving in droves, and we are gravely concerned the Obama Administration will make it impossible to reconstitute the technical capabilities and industrial base necessary to carry out our legislated direction for NASA. We therefore strongly request that you stop studying and re-studying NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), as described in the NASA Authorization Act and the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution, and report to Congress on NASA's final plan for the SLS.

They cite no use for the SLS other than as a backup plan for ISS crew rotation. If that's their intent, it's massive overkill, since a much smaller vehicle is all that's necessary. There's no mention of missions to the Moon, Mars or an asteroid.

One can only imagine the dire consequences if members of Congress had demanded in 1962 that NASA Administrator James Webb and Marshall Space Flight Center director Wernher von Braun stop studying the Saturn V rocket and build it immediately, for the singular goal of employing more people in their districts.

It is astonishing that these members of Congress are so arrogant they think they can design a space vehicle better than the experts.

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