Washington, D.C. - Today in a hearing of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Members heard from a panel of witnesses representing advisory and other outside stakeholder bodies that the budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) needs to be adequate, stable, and balanced, in order to support the wide range of programs the agency is tasked with. While the hearing was cut short due to the House floor schedule, Members did have a chance to receive testimony before it was adjourned.
"I am deeply concerned about the fate of our human space flight program, one of the agency's most recognizable missions," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX) in prepared remarks. "Though largely hidden from view, NASA is hard at work building ground test facilities, refining designs, testing hardware, and later this summer the agency will launch the Ares 1-X test-flight at the Kennedy Space Center as well as conduct a critical pad abort launch test. Enormous strides are being made."
Olson continued, "I am convinced that Constellation is the right path forward. Two different Congresses - one Republican, one Democrat - overwhelmingly endorsed it. I am hopeful that when all is said and done, the Augustine Commission will be similarly persuaded."
NASA's proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 (FY10) is $18.7 billion, an increase of 5.1% over the enacted FY09 appropriation. However, the FY10 budget projection beyond FY10 is essentially flat through FY13, raising many concerns that development of the new Constellation launch system could be pushed back well beyond its projected completion date of 2015.
Further, the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee held a markup of their FY10 appropriations bill on June 4, 2009, recommending space exploration be funded at a level approximately $670 million less than requested (16.9%). It was suggested in a colloquy between Rep. Olson and the CJS Chairman that this reduction simply represented a "pause" in funding in order to allow the Augustine Commission to conclude, and to allow the Obama Administration to develop its own vision for space exploration.
Referring to this reduction, Ranking Member Olson today raised concerns, stating, "The spending bill unwisely chooses to couple the Commission's report and options to a fiscal year that begins one month after its delivery, and does so without giving this Committee, or the Congress, reasonable opportunity to carefully consider the options."
The Augustine Commission, requested by the White House, is a 10 member panel of outside experts chaired by Norman R. Augustine to determine a set of options for the future of human spaceflight at NASA. The review is slated to be complete in August, 2009.
The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:
Mr. John C. Marshall, Member, Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP);
Dr. Kenneth M. Ford, Chair, NASA Advisory Council (NAC);
Mr. Robert M. Hanisee, Chair, Audit and Finance Committee, NASA Advisory Council (NAC);
Dr. Raymond S. Colladay, Chair, National Academies' Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB);
Dr. Berrien Moore III, Member, National Academies' Space Studies Board (SSB); and
Mr. J.P. Stevens, Vice President for Space Systems, Aerospace Industries Association (AIA).
To read witness testimony, or for more information on today's hearing, please visit the GOP Science and Technology Committee website.
House Committee on Science and Technology
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
Pete Olson (R-TX), Ranking Member
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 18, 2009
Press Contact: Zachary Kurz