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VIDEO: Senator LeMieux “NASA Obligated to Continue Constellation”

VIDEO: Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor about his amendment to the FAA Reauthorization Bill to hold NASA accountable in fulfilling their legal obligation to continue the Constellation program. LeMieux pointed out that by stopping the progress of the program, the U.S. could lose its post as the world leader in space exploration.

“The problem is that NASA is ignoring the will of Congress in already beginning to cancel the constellation program. It is not their right to unilaterally overrule Congress. NASA is obligated to follow the law” LeMieux said. “The ultimate determination on the future of the space program rests with Congress, not the Administration’s budget proposal.”

VIDEO: Huston Mayor Urges Obama to save Constellation

VIDEO: During her trip to Washington D.C., Houston Mayor Annise Parker invited President Obama to come and visit the Johnson Space Center. She also asked NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to consider a Plan B to keep Constellation alive.

MSNBC VIDEO – Bill Nelson: Obama Wants to go to Mars

MSNBC VIDEO: Former astronaut, and current U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, tells msnbc that while President Obama seeks an end the space shuttle program, he may direct NASA to aim for missions to Mars.

Senators Bennett and Hatch are teaming up with Congressman Bishop to save Constellation

Senator Bob Bennett, R-Utah, says he and fellow Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, are teaming up with Congressman Rob Bishop, R-District 1, in trying to save NASA’s Constellation and Ares programs which President Barack Obama wants to eliminate.

In a radio news conference, Sen. Bennett said besides losing valuable space programs it would mean the loss of thousands of jobs at ATK Systems in Box Elder County.

Sen. Bennett says he has hopes of turning it around. He says the only way that could be changed is through the appropriations process by refusing to appropriate money for the program the President is favoring. Congress can appropriate “money for Ares and Constellation and say, ‘this is what you have to do, Mr. President,’” Sen. Bennett says.

It’s a risky move politically, Sen. Bennett says, because it’s an earmarking tactic. “I know there’s people that say, ‘gee, you shouldn’t be earmarking.’ But the Constitution gives the Congress the power to determine how the money should be spent,” he explained.

“I think we should exercise our Constitutional responsibility and not cede that power to the President. Just because he has made the decision he doesn’t want the money spent in this way, we should make the decision we are the Congress and we are going to say, ‘we are writing it in to the laws that you must spend the money on Ares and move forward with this program.’”

Sen. Bennett said congressional members from Utah are reaching out to leaders from other states affected by the President’s proposal to aid in their fight to save the programs. “There will be as strong an effort by the Utah delegation, along with delegations from other states. We have some Democratic allies as well as Republicans to say, ‘Mr. President you’ve made the wrong decision.’”

Sen. Bennett also said the President’s proposal does not save taxpayers money, but in fact costs them more.

Via Senator Bob Bennett

Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Close the Space Gap, Keep America First in Space

Rep. Bill Posey (R) has joined with Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D) to introduce the Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2010, bipartisan legislation designed to maintain a robust human spaceflight program, minimize the human space flight gap by extending the use of the Space Shuttle, continue to move forward with the development of a new domestic vehicle and speeding up the development of a “heavy lift vehicle” (HLV) to go beyond low earth orbit.

The Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act would extend use of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, allow NASA to continue flying the Space Shuttle, and push to accelerate a next-generation NASA-developed space vehicle. A companion bill has been introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate.

“This bill is intended to maintain a robust human spaceflight program that will protect Space Coast jobs, enhance our national security, and generate scientific and technological advances that boost our economy,” said Congresswoman Kosmas. “While most agree that use of the Space Station should be extended through 2020, there is only one existing vehicle that we know can fully service and support the ISS, and that is the Shuttle. Our bill would extend the life of the ISS while allowing the Shuttle to continue flying in order to provide whatever support is needed for that extension.”

“At the same time, our legislation fills in some of what we feel was missing from the President’s proposal by instructing NASA to develop a clear plan for the future of human space exploration with set goals, timelines and a next-generation NASA vehicle,” Kosmas added.

“Our bill takes a critical first step toward closing the gap by extending Space Shuttle flights,” said Rep. Posey, a lead cosponsor of the bill. “The Augustine Panel said this was the only way to close the gap from this end and we do that in this bill. I’m pleased to join Representative Kosmas and Senator Hutchinson in forging bipartisan, bicameral legislation to close the space gap and keep America first in space.”

In addition to Kosmas and Posey, original cosponsors of the bill include Representatives Corrine Brown (D-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Alan Grayson (D-FL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Ron Klein (D-FL), Stephen LaTourette (R-OH), Charlie Melancon (D-LA), John Mica (R-FL), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Adam Putnam (R-FL), and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL).

The Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act of 2010 would:

  • Allow for Shuttle extension to fully service and support ISS: Make shuttle retirement dependent on the availability of replacement capabilities for comparable size crew and cargo delivery, whether government-owned or commercial, or until it is conclusively demonstrated that the Space Shuttle cargo capabilities are not needed to ensure space station viability;
  • Maximize investment in ISS: Require International Space Station (ISS) operations and full utilization through at least 2020, and further establish the ISS National Laboratory operating mechanisms and procedures. Instructs NASA to report to Congress on what resources and equipment are needed for ISS extension;
  • Develop New NASA-Led Vehicle: Provide for the acceleration of a government-owned human space flight capability to as close to 2015 as possible; Provide for the near-term evaluation of heavy-lift rocket vehicle design options, including Shuttle-derived and Constellation-derived options, to enable exploration beyond low-earth orbit and accelerate the start of vehicle design activity;
  • Encourage Commercial Development: Directs NASA to issue safety requirements for human rating commercial crew vehicles; expand support for Commercial Orbital Space Transportation (COTS) to support ISS — both for cargo and for eventual crew launch capability;
  • Increase NASA Funding: Authorize top-level funding for all of NASA’s mission activities, but would only address the human space flight policy issues. Provides increase over the President’s request of $1.3 billion for FY2011 and $2.1 billion for FY2012 for continuation of the Shuttle (at a rate of 2 missions a year) and additional ISS resources;
  • Establish Exploration Vision: Reaffirm long-term goal of moving beyond low-Earth orbit whether to the Moon, Mars or alternative destinations.

Aderholt “Extremely Pleased” That NASA May Be Reconsidering Ending Constellation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) made the following statement after learning that NASA may be considering a “Plan B” to the President’s proposal to end Constellation. Congressman Aderholt serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, as a member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, which is responsible for funding NASA.

On February 24th, Congressman Aderholt pressed President Obama’s top science and technology advisor, Dr. John P. Holdren, on the Administration’s plan to end Constellation, during an Appropriations subcommittee hearing, pleading with him to scrap the plan to end Constellation and give NASA the appropriate funding to remain a world leader in human space flight.

“I am extremely pleased that NASA may be reconsidering the President’s proposal to cancal human space flight. Since the President announced his Budget last month, I and many of my Republican and Democrat colleagues have expressed our disapproval of the plan, along with our desire in continuing with Constellation. But the fight is not over. I will continue to work on this because I believe that human spaceflight and exploration beyond earth is the very reason for NASA’s existence.”

SPACE ART: NASA “Plan B” Movie Poster

NOTE: This Galaxy Wire movie poster was inspired by a May 5, 2008 graphic “Plan B For Outer Space.”

Entire Florida Congressional Delegation Sends Bipartisan Letter to Obama Regarding NASA’s FY 2011 Budget

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C.
March 4, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

As members of the Florida congressional delegation, we write to express deep concerns with the Administration’s FY 2011 budget request as it relates to the future of America’s space program. While the budget request was presented to Members of Congress and staff as a game-changing strategy to move America’s human space program beyond activities in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) serious questions remain regarding its goals, milestones, inherent cost and schedule risks, and severe disruptions to the workforce at our nation’s premier spaceport.

The Administration’s decision to terminate the Constellation program, after $9 billion of taxpayer investments and a successful test flight four months ago of Ares 1-X, and a termination price tag of $2.5 billion, comes perhaps as the biggest surprise, but it is especially worrisome considering no other specific heavy-lift program is proposed in its place. Coupled with the planned retirement of the Shuttle, this leaves the future of U.S. human spaceflight in serious doubt, and the highly skilled workforce with the prospect of a major upheaval from which it and our space program will not have the hope of recovery for many years.

We remind you that the Constellation program has enjoyed strong, bipartisan Congressional support, as reflected in authorization and appropriations measures. Public comments from Administration and NASA officials allude to future missions to the moon, Mars and elsewhere but fall short of the clarity that has always formed an integral part of direction for our nation’s space program.

The importance of space exploration for the United States is well established but is sometimes taken for granted as we reap the benefits from decades of previous commitments and investments in our space program. America’s leadership in space has contributed to our national security, generated countless spinoffs and inventions that have contributed significantly to our technological advancement and economic competitiveness, led to the creation of high-skilled jobs, and inspired leaders of tomorrow. As with all great human achievements, our commitment to space must be renewed and encouraged or we will surely be surpassed by other nations who are presently challenging our leadership in space. Likewise, space exploration can be crowded out by other budget priorities if the assumption is made that our leadership will continue indefinitely regardless of vision and resources.

Floridians take special pride in hosting the workforce and infrastructure essential for our nation’s human space flight program. According to NASA’s own numbers from FY 2008, the economic impact of NASA in Florida resulted in over 40,000 jobs, over $2 billion in household income, and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal, state and local taxes. You can understand that Floridians are especially concerned about the future of America’s space program.

We are concerned that the plan NASA has laid out fails to provide a manageable transition of the workforce and is likely to repeat the mistakes that plagued Florida at the end of the Apollo program. Those were not only the loss of thousands of jobs and serious adverse economic hardship, but also the disruption and loss of a well-trained and highly-skilled aerospace workforce. Repeating these past mistakes would be unfortunate to say the least.

Additionally, the FY 2011 Budget Estimates document is very vague concerning plans and missions as they relate to work in Florida and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in particular. While the document refers to upgrades at KSC to create a 21st Century Space Launch Complex Program, test flights, and commercial and cargo flights, the future role of the Center as a launching site (or in any capacity) remains unclear, as does the role of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The document mentions critical technology demonstrations, heavy-lift and propulsion R&D, robotic precursor missions, some of which may or may not utilize Florida’s infrastructure and workforce. We are concerned over the lack of details. Please provide to us as soon as possible an adequately detailed understanding of NASA’s plans for KSC and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Finally, in light of the risks and uncertainties of your plan for the future of U.S. human spaceflight, we are concerned about the loss of the ability of the United States to launch our astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and maximize its functionality due to the rapidly approaching, planned retirement of the Space Shuttle. Sole reliance on Russia for access to the ISS with no redundancy during the planned gap poses serious risk to our space program. We believe it would be prudent to ensure not only that there is redundancy, but also that the U.S. retains a domestic capability to take our astronauts to the ISS and to deliver hardware that will ensure its utilization through at least 2020. Given the lack of this capability in the outline presented by your Administration, we would ask that you work with us to guarantee that this capability remains. We believe that our Nation’s independent access to space should not be terminated unless approved by Congress in the NASA authorization bill and FY 2011 appropriations process.



Rep. Posey, Rep. Kosmas Sen. Nelson, Sen. LeMieux, Rep. Miller Rep. Bilirakis Rep. Young Rep. Putnam, Rep. Buchanan, Rep. Rooney, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Rep. Mica, Rep. Stearns, Rep. Klein, Rep. Grayson Rep. Boyd Rep. Crenshaw Rep. Meek, Rep. Castor, Rep. Hastings, Rep. Wasserman-Shultz, Rep. Brown


NBC News space correspondent Jay Barbree talks to msnbc’s Tamron Hall about second-string options NASA is mulling over to continue ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station.

NASA “Plan B” Email

Here’s the text of the entire “Plan B” e-mail:

From: Coats, Michael (JSC-Center-Director)(JSC-AA111)

To: Altemus, Stephen J. (JSC-EA111)

Cc: Lightfoot, Robert M. (MSFC-DA01); Cabana, Robert D. (KSC-Center-Director)(KSC-AA000); Mango, Edward J. (KSC-FA000); Geyer, Mark S. (JSC-ZV111); Hanley, Jeffrey M. (JSC-ZA111); Ochoa, Ellen (JSC-AB111)

Sent: Tue Mar 02 12:34:12 2010

Subject: Plan B team

Steve Robert and I talked to Charlie and he agreed to let us set up a “Plan B” team (my term, since Chairman Gordon asked Charlie about his “plan B” at the hearing) to look at what a potential compromise might look like. Charlie is meeting with Chairman Gordon in a couple days and asked for a one pager with talking points before his meeting. Please contact Gary Lyles, Ed Mango, and Mark Geyer to develop that one pager quickly, and set up a team (you can name it anything you want—I don’t recommend Constellation or Orion). Robert and I mentioned the importance of three areas: a human spacecraft development effort; a heavy lift launch vehicle development effort; a launch vehicle test program. Your white paper is a good basis, but please work with Gary, Ed and Mark. Our desire is to establish a team to flesh this out, then report to Charlie through Doug Cooke. Living within the budget is a huge issue, since it’s doubtful we’ll get more funding. Mike


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