2010/02/01

A spectrum of opinions

Some people hate the proposed NASA budget. Some people love it. Others are undecided. Some samplings of opinions in all three categories:

Love It

As you would expect, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation “welcomes” the proposal and its emphasis on commercial crew transportation. “President Obama has given NASA a bold and exciting new mission: to once again push the limits in technology and exploration, promote innovation, and foster a vibrant commercial spaceflight sector,” said CSF president Brett Alexander in a statement.

The Planetary Society asks Congress to endorse the budget proposal in a statement. The organization believes that the new approach, including both commercial crew and NASA technology development initiatives, “should enable human space exploration to move ahead more realistically and even more quickly than previous plans,” in the words of executive director Lou Friedman.

The X PRIZE Foundation also sees positives in the budget proposal. “While many are calling President Obama’s proposed grounding of NASA’s program to return to the Moon the ending of an era for space travel, the X PRIZE Foundation sees this new budget proposal as a visionary step for NASA and an opportunity to forge new ideas, develop much-needed technology, and channel the American Spirit spurring innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Hate It

Sen. Shelby isn’t the only member of Congress to issue a statement opposing NASA’s change in direction. Fellow Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions is also opposed to canceling Constellation. “This ill-advised decision, which comes on the 7th anniversary of the sacrifice of the space shuttle Columbia crew, abandons our nation’s nearly five-decade commitment to human space flight and will likely result in NASA taking a back seat to China, Russia, and India in space exploration,” he states. He predicts a “long, difficult battle” over the FY11 budget and the agency’s future.

Speaking of battles, the mayor of Huntsville, Alabama, Tommy Battle, vows to “do everything we can” to restore funding for Ares. “I respectfully ask you to please, sir, not give up on the Constellation program,” Battle states in a letter to the president. “Doing so does not just negate the billions of dollars already invested in safe, manned space flight – canceling this program puts limits on the dreams of our country.”

Several other members of Congress were, as one might expect, opposed to canceling Constellation, including Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), and Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX). All has previously expressed their concerns about the NASA budget and Constellation last week.

ATK, a company closely tied to the Ares 1, issued a statement in response to the budget proposal that, indirectly at least, expressed disapproval about the budget. “It is not clear why at this time the nation would consider abandoning a program of such historic promise and capability – with so much invested,” the ATK statement reads. “In the weeks and months ahead we are hopeful that the Congress and Administration will work together to deliver a budget that supports a program that capitalizes on the investments the nation has made in the Constellation program, closes the gap in US capability to return to space, and best assures continued US leadership in space.”

Undecided

Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, said that the NASA budget request “requires deliberate scrutiny” but didn’t pass judgment on it. “We will need to hear the Administration’s rationale for such a change and assess its impact on U.S. leadership in space before Congress renders its judgment on the proposals,” he states.

The Coalition for Space Exploration adopted a neutral tone in a statement, saying that it “awaits collaboration between the White House and Congress” on the budget proposal. “We urge the White House and Congress to come together under the proposed budget increase for NASA to develop a sustainable, long-term strategy,” it adds.

What do YOU think?

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