Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Florida Today: Reject NASA Cuts

An editorial in today's Florida Today urges House members to reject last week's vote by a House Appropriations subcommittee to cut the FY12 NASA budget by nine percent.

Members of a House subcommittee that oversees NASA funding went on a tear last week, doing what’s popular on Capitol Hill:

Attacking President Obama and his post-shuttle space policy, which calls for NASA to use private rockets and a NASA heavy-lift rocket to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and, later, deep space.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., led the charge and was aided by Reps. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Norm Dicks, D-Wash., saying the president is failing to chart a bold, new course.

But rather than come to NASA’s aid, what did they do?

The committee voted to cut its budget to $16.8 billion, a 9 percent reduction that would badly hurt efforts to get private rockets flying around 2015 from Cape Canaveral, a program that holds the most promise to return Americans into orbit on U.S. launchers soon.

The editorial called on "the Space Coast’s two House members — U.S. Reps. Sandy Adams and Bill Posey — to do everything possible to make sure the money is reinstated."

Good luck with that.

One of their first acts upon taking office this year was to vote in favor of H.R. 1, which cut the FY11 NASA budget by $600 million.

NASA plans on using commercial cargo and crew programs as transportation to and from the International Space Station, with cargo deliveries starting in 2012. But the subcommittee proposal would severely cut that program:

Current congressional plans call for spending $500 million next year on commercial rocket development, with the White House wanting to spend $850 million. But Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said more than $250 million would be cut under the subcommittee’s plan.

Neither Adams' nor Posey's congressional web sites comment on the proposed budget cut, although Posey issued a press release last Friday falsely claiming that Obama had "broken his August 2008 promise to Space Coast residents that he would close the space gap and keep America first in space."

The 2009 Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee report, commonly known as the Augustine Committee, found that Constellation's Ares I would not be ready to fly to the ISS until at least 2017, and it would be funded by ending U.S. ISS spending in 2015. Why build a rocket with nowhere to go?

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said Sunday on CNN that NASA will issue bid proposals in 2012 for commercial crew flights to start in 2014 or 2015.

If and when this happens, it will be proven that Obama kept his promise and Posey lied.

Lied while he should have been trying to save funding for the program that will narrow the gap created in January 2004 by the Bush administation after deciding to cancel the Space Shuttle once ISS construction was completed.

Here's hoping Posey and Adams end partisan smears and start fighting to accelerate the progress of commercial programs that will resume human space flights from the Space Coast. But I'm not counting on them.

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