Adoption of NASA compromise means continued leadership in space exploration (Rep. Frank Wolf)

Our compromise proposal — which was embraced by the Senate Commerce Committee in its NASA authorization bill — ensures that NASA will have an exploration rocket available within six years. Our plan also capitalizes on the nearly $10 billion already invested in the development of the next-generation rocket, guaranteeing that taxpayers' previous investments were not made in vain. Importantly, it protects our defense industrial base and keeps our skilled space workforce employed, making sure we don’t lose their critical skill sets.

I applaud the Senate Commerce Committee for reporting out a NASA authorization bill that embraces our compromise proposal on exploration. I hope the House Science Committee will similarly adopt this compromise and consider its authorization bill. As ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, I believe it’s important for the authorizers to signal their support so that we can enshrine this new policy in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill.

This issue is particularly important for me because NASA has been a critical source of inspiration, innovation and national pride for Americans over the last 50 years. Our achievements in exploration and manned spaceflight have rallied our nation in a way that no other federal program — aside from our armed services — can.

I believe that manned spaceflight and exploration is one of the last remaining fields in which the U.S. maintains an undeniable competitive advantage over other nations. Our space program is a critical security and economic asset. Countless Americans have dedicated their lives — and in some cases have given their lives — to earn our current leadership in space.

Our achievements in space have been hard earned. We simply cannot afford to abandon our position in space, as the White House plan proposed. With the adoption of this important compromise, I am increasingly confident of continued American leadership in space.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is the senior Republican on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science.