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

In a rare victory for bipartisanship and the legislative branch, Congress has rallied behind an important compromise plan to ensure continued American leadership in space. Six months after the release of the president’s budget — which effectively mothballed NASA’s exploration program — the Senate and House have sent a clear signal to the White House that such cuts are unacceptable.

Last month, I joined Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John Culberson (R-Texas), Gene Green (D-Texas) and 58 other bipartisan members representing 18 states on a letter to President Obama detailing a compromise plan centering on the immediate development of a “heavy lift rocket” and crew capsule capable of exploring beyond low Earth orbit, something the U.S. has not done since the Apollo era.


The president’s space policy will compromise American jobs and American world leadership (Rep. Robert Aderholt)

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. Since then, there has been no turning back for the U.S. space program and we have led the world in space exploration ever since. Throughout the next 50 years, NASA would land astronauts on the moon, launch the Hubble space telescope and help build the International Space Station (ISS).

However, the President now wants to severely downgrade the one task which makes NASA unique — human exploratory space flight. On February 1, 2010, the Administration announced a budget which proposes to eliminate the NASA Constellation program. Since that time, NASA has canceled the awarding of contracts or put on hold parts of numerous contracts which were a part of the regular fiscal year 2010 work for the Constellation program, despite the fact that Congress must first approve its termination before it becomes final policy.


Setting the record straight on subsidy facts

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) once again choose to ignore that the Boeing 767 aircraft benefited from government subsidies.

The representatives from Kansas refused to recognize that the Boeing 767 is laden with domestic and foreign subsidies that lowered the cost of producing the aircraft. The 767 received U.S. government support when NASA funded the research for the supercritical wing, acoustic nacelles, composite structures, advanced aluminum alloys and advance displays. To refresh their memories, the representatives from Kansas should reference Petersen and Holmes’s 1991 study, “U.S. Aeronautical Research for the 1990s," that stated that the “NASA Aircraft Energy Efficiency (ACEE) program was the genesis of the Boeing 757 and 767 aeroplanes.”


Proposed FCC regulations threaten U.S. economic recovery

At a time when the U.S. must create at least 125,000 new jobs per month just to keep pace with new workforce entrants, the May employment report was a big disappointment. The addition of only 41,000 private-sector jobs suggests the recovery is much more fragile than we would like. Every private-sector job created or sustained going forward is essential to sustainable economic recovery.


Tough choices on spending (Rep. Doug Lamborn)

Government spending is out of control and President Obama’s method of throwing more money at our economy is not working. Federal spending cuts need to start somewhere, and there is no better place than a program that can survive on its own.


Keeping America connected: End the static at the broadcasting board (Sen. Dick Lugar)

America's international broadcasting operations are a key element in our diplomatic efforts to communicate our values to the rest of the world and to bring news and information to closed societies. Through traditional outlets like Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and newer ones like Radio Free Asia and the 24-hour Arabic-language Alhurra TV, the U.S. government distributes programming via radio, TV, the Internet and other new media in 60 languages to an estimated 175 million people weekly.


FCC must conduct a thorough review of the Comcast/NBC-Universal merger

The Federal Communications Commission will soon face one of the most important decisions it has ever made: Whether to permit Comcast, the massive cable TV and Internet provider, to merge with NBC Universal, one of the world’s largest news and entertainment content providers.

Comcast is not exactly loved by consumers: In a 2009 Forrester Research survey of customer satisfaction, Comcast ranked number 105 out of 113 companies. It has faced credible accusations of censorship of Internet and cable TV content and advertising.


Facebook and internet privacy (Sen. Michael Bennet)

Social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr provide an unparalleled ability for people to stay connected in new and unique ways. In doing so, these websites have access to vast amounts of personal information and data about their users.


Legendary astronauts outline shortfalls of Obama spaceflight plan

In a hearing on Wednesday before the House Committee on Science and Technology, legendary Apollo Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Eugene Cernan, and former CEO of Lockheed Martin, Thomas Young, discussed their serious concerns with President Obama’s plan for building a successor to the Space Shuttle, which is scheduled to retire at the end of this year.

“From the very beginning it was clear that NASA’s proposal lacked the sufficient detail that Congress would need to determine whether it was a credible plan,” Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) said, “Yet, in spite of our best efforts to obtain more information from NASA this situation has not improved.  Indeed, the President’s trip to the Kennedy Space Center on April 15th only added to the confusion as he laid out more aspirational goals, but provided no clear idea of how they fit together or how he expects to pay for these new ventures.”

Former Apollo Astronaut Captain Eugene Cernan, USN (ret.), described the President's goals as “all worthwhile endeavors in their own right.” However, Cernan was extremely critical of the President’s plan for human space flight, saying that “nowhere [in the budget] do we find any mention of the Human Exploration of Space and nowhere do we find a commitment in dollars to support this all important national endeavor. We (Armstrong, Lovell and I) have come to the unanimous conclusion that this budget proposal presents no challenges, has no focus, and in fact is a blueprint for a mission to ‘nowhere.'"

Mr. Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11, echoed these concerns. “I am persuaded that a return to the moon would be the most productive path to expanding the human presence in the Solar System," he said.   His top three priorities for the human space program are maintaining American leadership; guaranteeing American access to space; and continuing to explore the Solar System.

Members on both sides of the aisle continued to express numerous concerns over the President’s proposed plan to cancel the Constellation system in favor of having NASA buy seats for its astronauts on launch systems that have not yet been designed, tested, or built.  Such vehicles would theoretically be used to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.  NASA has spent the last five years designing the Constellation system, which is to be the Space Shuttle’s replacement.  The Constellation system already represents over a $10 billion taxpayer investment and has demonstrated success.
Since releasing the NASA budget proposal, President Obama has since announced the addition of an ISS crew rescue development program.  However, this proposal has no corresponding increase in the NASA budget proposal.  Estimated to cost between $5-7 billion, many members today agreed with Ranking Member Hall that such continued changes call into question the stability, credibility and sustainability of the President’s plan.

Thomas Young, former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., also had strong concerns with the President's proposal. “A fundamental flaw in the proposed human spaceflight program is a commercial crew initiative which abandons the proven methodology I have described.  NASA's role is reduced to defining safety requirements and general oversight,” he said, “Commercial crew is a risk too high, not a responsible course and should not be approved.”

Hall agreed, saying “In the absence of a defensible, credible plan, I and many of our members continue to support the Constellation program as currently authorized and appropriated by successive Congresses.”