Local Politicians React to Obama's Plan

 U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), which has jurisdiction over funding for NASA, today made the following statement regarding President Obama's alternative plan for the future of NASA.

"As a result of the alternative offered by the President today, there is now no hope for a bright future in human space exploration.  The President's new plan continues the destruction of forty years of U.S. space supremacy by pinning our hopes for success on unproven commercial companies.  The President redirects funding for a tested and successful space exploration program, Constellation, to let so-called private industry develop with taxpayer money a launch vehicle for humans.

One of these commercial companies highlighted by the President already has an agreement with NASA, is currently two years behind schedule, and is requesting 60 percent more money to do the job they have already been paid to do.   Yet these companies represent the quicksand foundation upon which President Obama has placed his faith to deliver humans safely to space.   We need to move forward with a real plan that is based on defined requirements, proven technologies, and achievable goals.  The President's new alternative fails to meet any of these.  The Administration has shown once again that it is no longer committed to robust space exploration by terminating Constellation, the one program that is actually capable of making it happen."

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) made the following comments regarding President Obama's revised NASA proposal:

"America has long maintained a bold vision and leadership role in space exploration. President Obama's original plan to eliminate NASA's Constellation program, the center piece for manned space flight, was met with bipartisan opposition. I strongly agree with the sentiment of former astronauts and Apollo commanders, Neil Armstrong, James Lovell, and Eugene Cernan, when they called the budget cuts "devastating."

"The president's announcement today in Florida is a modification of his previous proposal, and it at least recognizes the fact that the American people expect to continue manned space flight in the future. Unfortunately, the plan outlined by the president fails to preserve the United States' role as the established international leader in space exploration.

"NASA has already invested billions of dollars in the Constellation Program, which includes the Ares I and Ares V rockets–which are the boosters to take man into lower Earth orbit and beyond. The asserted cost-saving measures that will occur by cancelling this program is a disingenuous approach by the Administration, because the money is dedicated to industries whose capabilities are clearly unproven.

"I am encouraged the president recognized the need to adjust his plans for NASA, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to ensure Congress fully restores America's preeminent role in space exploration. NASA's Constellation plan has been carefully developed and passed critical reviews. I believe it will maintain space exploration traditions at an affordable cost."

Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL)  made the following statement on the President's "space summit" speech at the Kennedy Space Center.

"Today, we heard more of the same proposed plan from the President about America's space program. There may be a slightly revised plan for how we utilize capsules to visit the International Space Station, but there is still no clear vision for human exploration of space and no clear plan that, in my opinion, maintains our nation's space leadership in the World."

"I have opposed the President's direction for NASA since the Budget was announced on February 1st, and my position remains unchanged. Not only will this plan cut thousands of jobs across north Alabama and across the country, but ending the Constellation program and depending on private companies for human spaceflight will forfeit America's leadership in space to countries like Russia and China. That is a real concern for me and my colleagues."

"The President and his Administration have based their decision to end Constellation mostly on high operational cost, but the Appropriations hearings that I have participated in prove that there are serious discrepancies on those costs. The fact of the matter is that our nation can continue the Constellation program in a cost-efficient manner."

"In regards to an updated plan, the Administration says they are reviving the NASA crew capsule, but they have only committed to producing a single Orion Crew Capsule as an emergency escape vehicle permanently docked to the International Space Station. American astronauts would still be entirely reliant on far less advanced Russian capsules for trips to and from the station. This plan is not what our nation needs to remain first in space exploration."

"The employees at Marshall Space Flight Center and the innovative companies in north Alabama do not believe we need to scale back our space missions. If the President is not willing to lead by fully funding Constellation, Congress will have to exercise its Constitutional authority to direct how funds are spent."