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Senator Nelson says White House will support robust space program

Press Release From: Sen. Bill Nelson
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009

image WASHINGTON, D.C. - Following publication today of a new report on the future of NASA, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said President Obama has assured him the space program will get what it needs.

The report, prepared by the White House's Augustine Commission, suggests several options for NASA's future beyond the space shuttle and International Space Station missions. But it says America's space program "appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory."

"It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources," the report says. More specifically, the space program needs another $3 billion annually. "I've asked the president to use money from leftover stimulus funds," said Nelson, in a prepared statement.

"I've also asked him to help minimize the job losses after the space shuttle is retired, in part, by transferring other NASA-related work to Cape Canaveral.

"He's assured me that NASA will get enough money to do what it does best: go explore the heavens," Nelson said.

The Florida Democrat is the only sitting member of Congress to have flown in space. He did so aboard Columbia in 1986. He's remained an outspoken advocate of space exploration.

In addition to pressing the administration to use leftover stimulus money to bolster the program, he played key roles in getting an extra $1 billion to extend the life of the shuttle and in the selection of new NASA administrator Charlie Bolden.

"Whatever the president chooses, I will continue to fight to get NASA the funding it needs for the next generation of human spaceflight," Nelson said today. "It's critical for Florida and the country."

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