Saturday, February 13, 2010

House Members decry disassembly of Constellation, violates of 2010 budget language

Robert Block
The Write Stuff
Orlando Sentinel

A group of 27 members of Congress, mainly Republican representatives from Alabama and Texas, two states with major NASA centers, wrote a letter Friday to NASA chief Charlie Bolden, demanding that he agree to cease any activity that could be construed as damaging to the Constellation moon program.

Among the signatures were those of Reps. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) and Suzanne Kosmas (D-New Smyrna Beach) who both represent Kennedy Space Center workers.

In the four page letter, made available to the Orlando Sentinel, the members said they were disturbed by reports that NASA was working behind the scenes to turn off contracts for Constellation’s Ares I rocket and Orion capsule in violation of Congressional wishes.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama released his 2011 budget which would scrap the troubled space program to return astronauts to the moon. The new budget supports a new technology development program and would help private companies develop the capability to fly astronauts to the International Space Station which would operate until at least 2020.

“We have become aware of the formation by NASA Headquarters of at least five “tiger teams,” the job of which is to shut down Constellation and to transition to the new program,” the letter said.

It also said that it understands NASA has given “verbal” instructions to directors of the agency space centers to close down the program, as well as put a contract on hold and planned to “set aside” money supposed to be spent on Ares and Orion.

Last year, lawmakers prohibited NASA from canceling any Constellation programs this year and starting new ones in their place unless the cuts were approved by Congress. The language inserted in the Consolidated Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010 expressly prohibits the “termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program."

Read the Post HERE.

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