Saturday, March 13, 2010

Frank Wolf and colleagues press for alternative

Marcia Smith

House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee ranking member Frank Wolf (R-VA) and other Members of the House pressed their case for an alternative to President Obama's plan for NASA this past week. At a Thursday press conference Wolf and several other Republican Members and at least one Democrat -- Rep. Gene Green (TX) - asked for an alternative to canceling the Constellation program and turning U.S. human access to low Earth orbit over to commercial companies.

They and a total of 15 bipartisan House Members sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden calling for a 30-day NASA study "to review how exploration spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing may be maintained within the proposed budget request to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond." The letter specifies that the members of the team be selected by the Directors of the Johnson, Marshall and Kennedy Space Centers.

The 15 Members who signed the letter are predominantly, but not completely, from districts that would be negatively impacted by the cancellation of the Constellation program.

Meanwhile, Representatives Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) and about a dozen other Members introduced H.R. 4804, the "Human Space Flight Capability Assurance and Enhancement Act," a companion bill to the one introduced by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (S. 3068) on March 3.

President Obama has scheduled a meeting in Florida for April 15 to discuss his vision for NASA. Referred to by the Administration as a "conference," not a summit as it is often described in the media, details are pending. Latest rumors are that it will be by invitation only.

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