May 14, 2007 – Washington, D.C. – An unprecedented coalition of nearly two dozen U.S. aerospace corporations told the Congress on Friday, May 11, that NASA is in urgent need of a boost to its fiscal year 2008 budget or America's space leadership could be lost for a generation.
The group, which includes the chairmen, presidents and chief executives of such industry giants as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, asked the Congress to support an increase to NASA's FY08 budget of $1.4 billion. The budget is currently under review on Capitol Hill.
The industry leaders wrote on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Americans they employ, predicting dire consequences for the nation if Congress and the White House don't act immediately to make the increase.
"Without this increase, our nation faces the very real risk of losing our uniquely critical industrial base and human space access capability," the leaders wrote Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).
While the new exploration program has previously received bipartisan support, the letter points out that the recent FY2007 Congressional Joint Resolution slashed the space agency's budget by $670 million. According to the aerospace leaders, that cut would force a six-month delay in the launching of the new Orion spacecraft and its Ares 1 booster rocket now set to replace the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet when it is retired in 2010. They characterize the gap in manned access to space as troubling, pointing out that the forced reliance upon foreign nations for ferrying crews to the International Space Station risked U.S. space independence.
The letter also stated that the Administration's $17.3 billion request was $1.4 billion below the previously congressionally authorized level. "We are deeply concerned that there is a growing disparity between the programs that NASA has been asked to accomplish and the resources the agency has been provided," the letter stated.
NASA's continued investment in research, science and engineering work is vital to maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness in the global competition for jobs and technology.
As the largest member organization for aerospace professionals, AIAA strongly urges Congress and the Administration to support the recommendations provided by the coalition or risk an epic failure of national leadership.
To view a copy of the letter go to http://www.aiaa.org/content.cfm?pageid=128
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