Keeping the Space Program in the Area
by: Pat Hernandez, May 18, 2010 9:05:00 pm
The annual trip to Washington, D.C. is made by possible by Citizens for Space Exploration. The group travels to Capitol Hill every year to fully support funding for NASA.
"This will be the most important trip that we've made in 19 years."
That's Bob Mitchell. He's president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. I caught up with him in Washington, in between meetings with lawmakers that determine the new financial focus of the space program.
"We've got to get the administration to understand that we're not supporting the proposed 2011 budget that absolutely dismantles human space exploration as we know it."
He says it boils down to America's leadership role in human space exploration.
"Right now currently, we have 16-thousand aerospace contractors in our community, and we have 34-hundred civil servants. The commercial companies that we could possibly be giving this to has not proven that they can launch a rocket, much less put humans into space."
Mitchell says this year's trip takes on added significance.
"We have 152 travellers this year, 60 are from Texas. It's more than just Texas. This is about the security of the United States of America and our leadership in the world. So, we have really broadened our reach and we'll have over 35-different states represented here. We've got 32-college students from across the U.S. that are majoring in aerospace engineering. This is a big issue across the U.S., not just in Texas."
Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia has been making this trip for twelve years.
"I've been going since I was city controller, because I recognized early on of what a huge economic engine NASA and all its contractors, all the people that they touch, whether it's the people that deliver the flowers to one of their offices, or the people who supply pencils, or the people who actually get to work with the astronauts. It's all those jobs that are at stake for us locally. But for the country, it's what's at stake is our leadership role in human space exploration."
Lawmakers from Texas, Florida and Alabama are doing their best to protect aspects of NASA's existing manned space program that account for jobs, payroll and subcontracts in their states.