House Space Plan Counters President's Vision

The House Science Committee marks up its version of a NASA funding bill on Thursday. It would counter many of President Obama's proposals for the United States Space Program. Local lawmakers hope the measure helps guarantee the Johnson Space Center will continue to play a significant role in space exploration. Pat Hernandez has more.
The measure calls for NASA to restructure the Constellation moon rocket program to help in the development of a new government rocket. Austin GOP Congressman Michael McCaul sits on the committee.

"There is a general feeling of bipartisan opposition to the president's plan to cut human space flight and Constellation specifically. This is very good news for Houston, I think very good news for the Johnson Space Center, all the astronauts and all the employees and contractors. We've been working to include language in this authorization that would keep the human space flight program intact, preserve the Johnson Space Center, and ensure that Constellation goes forward."

McCaul says the requirements in the NASA Reauthorization Bill will keep the human space flight program at JSC.

"We're cautiously optimistic, but I think its again, a sign in both the house and senate, that there is bipartisan opposition to the president's policies to eliminate the human space flight program."

Clear Lake Republican Congressman Pete Olson is the ranking member on the Space Aeronautics Subcommittee. There are some significant differences from the Senate version, but he says both are tremendous improvements over what the administration was proposing.

"It maximizes our current investment in the areas in Orion project. We spent over $9 billion dollars so far on this project, to ensure we're on the path to put a vehicle in space that gets us to the space station by 2015, because right now we're gonna have to depend on the Russians with the retirement of the space shuttle, and then on a path to go beyond lower earth orbit, to the moon, mars, wherever beyond, within the budget."

James Oberg used to work at Mission Control at JSC. He's now a space consultant who's seen both the Senate and House version of the NASA Reauthorization Bill. While he applauds the efforts of the Texas delegation, he thinks lawmakers need to expand their vision of the future of space exploration.

"The Obama plan was poorly presented and poorly received, but it had some vision to it. But it's about time to change gears and to use the lessons of the space shuttle as it's retired, and use the lessons of the space station as we're still learning them, to plan on going farther out in space and doing farther things, instead of just making sure everyone's got a job, because once you go into the negotiation for a job's preservation, then you put yourself totally into political influence."

Whether the bill has an impact remains to be seen. Pundits hold little hope that the NASA issue makes it to the floor of the House this summer and any new policy decided.

Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...