HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - NASA administrator Charlie Bolden stopped by Huntsville and the Marshall Space Flight Center to tour new technology they have developed for the SLS, the next generation heavy lift launch vehicle.
Bolden also addressed sequestration concerns and what it means to Marshall and NASA as a whole.
He said when you are talking a loss of funds, that means loss of jobs, and that is why he is so concerned. He said the big impact will be a lot of those businesses that NASA partners with. Some of them are on or around Redstone Arsenal.
Bolden said he has given awards to several companies in Huntsville for their work. He does not believe a lot of them will even be eligible for NASA jobs because of the cuts.
He also said it will impact when we will be able to put American astronauts back into space without hitching a ride from another space organization.
He did not shy away when describing how much NASA will suffer because of sequestration.
"I get asked by members of Congress all the time, 'How are we going to close the gap?' We're not. I'm just being very blunt about it. It is serious. So anybody who thinks this is no big deal, it's a big deal," said Bolden.
He expects a lot of the sequestration impact to come from companies NASA uses.
But what about the impact for Marshall Space Flight Center employees and the work they're doing?
"Anything we do in space flight, whether it's human spaceflight or otherwise, Marshall is involved," Bolden said.
He believes that is why government cuts won't mean job losses for his employees in Huntsville.
"People that live here should know that integral part of NASA. It's who we are to be quite honest," he said.
With sequestration looming, Bolden predicts the Huntsville area and other parts of the country will suffer. However, the three main NASA projects, all with Marshall ties, are all system go. They are a heavy lift launch vehicle with a multiple purpose crew vehicle, the James Webb Space Telescope that will take over for Hubbell and the enhancement of the International Space Station with commercial capability.
But Bolden fears projects launch times will get pushed back because of sequestration.
"This is going to interrupt that progress to building up the kinds of organizations we needed to be able to send us to deep space and do other things," he said.
Bolden also believes the Marshall Space Flight Center civil service workforce won't be affected.
At other facilities, that may not be the case.