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Kosmas Presses Budget Committee to Continue Shuttle Funding

Press Release From: Rep. Suzanne Kosmas
Posted: Wednesday, March 3, 2010

image Testifies that Shuttle May Be Needed to Fully Support Space Station Extension

(Washington, DC) - Today, Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (FL-24) testified before the House Budget Committee about the President's proposed NASA budget and called for an additional $1.2 billion over the president's request for FY 2011 to continue flying the Space Shuttle. Kosmas expressed to committee members the importance of extending the life of the International Space Station (ISS) through 2020, but warned that continued Shuttle operations might be needed to fully service and support the ISS extension.

"There is only one existing vehicle with the capability to deliver certain pieces of hardware that will enable a longer lifespan of the ISS, maintain continued U.S. independent access to space, and ensure the station's research mission is maximized to fullest extent possible - and that is the Space Shuttle," Congresswoman Kosmas said to the committee. "I believe that as we debate long-term future of our human space program, it is prudent to take steps to ensure the Space Shuttles can continue to operate in order to fully support and service the ISS."

Kosmas also reiterated her view that the President's proposal for NASA lacks a clear plan and puts at risk America's international leadership in human space exploration.

"The President's proposal to cancel the Constellation program and proceed with the retirement of the Shuttle fleet, with no clear plans or goals for exploration, will have far-reaching implications," said Kosmas. "Tens of thousands of high-paying, highly-skilled jobs are on the line across the country at small, medium, and large suppliers who support both the Shuttle and Constellation programs. Our nation's economic prosperity and national security will also be at stake if we do not pursue technological innovation and protect our unique capabilities. And we risk failing to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers - for NASA's missions have inspired untold numbers of Americans to pursue STEM fields."

Congresswoman Kosmas' testimony to the Budget Committee can be found below:

Chairman Spratt, Ranking Member Ryan and Members of the Committee - thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address you regarding an issue of great importance not only to my district, but to the nation as a whole - the transition of our human space flight program from the space shuttle program based in low-Earth orbit to a next generation transportation and exploration program.

The President's proposal to cancel the Constellation program and proceed with the retirement of the shuttle fleet, with no clear plans or goals for exploration, will have far-reaching implications -- it will threaten our leadership in space, leave us without the ability to independently launch Americans or access the International Space Station for an unknown amount of time, and devastate a unique, world-class workforce and industrial base that will be difficult to reassemble.

The impacts of this proposal would be felt by the entire nation. Tens of thousands of high-paying, highly-skilled jobs are on the line across the country at small, medium, and large suppliers who support both the Shuttle and Constellation programs. Our nation's economic prosperity and national security will also be at stake if we do not pursue technological innovation and protect our unique capabilities. And we risk failing to inspire future generations of scientists and engineers - for NASA's missions have inspired untold numbers of Americans to pursue STEM fields.

Congress must signal to the Administration - as well as to industry, our international partners, and future generations of rocket scientists and explorers - that we will not cede our leadership in space - or here on Earth. We must make the commitment to funding a robust human space flight program if we want to ensure our nation's future as the leader in technology and innovation.

While there is much debate over the future direction of our space program, there is one area of consensus among Members, the President, and domestic and international scientific communities - and that is the need to extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) through at least 2020. Nearly complete after a decade of construction, the ISS now holds great promise as a National Laboratory that will benefit all Americans and I urge you to budget the funds needed to extend its operation.

However, there is only one existing vehicle with the capability to deliver certain pieces of hardware that will enable a longer lifespan of the ISS, maintain continued U.S. independent access to space, and ensure the station's research mission is maximized to fullest extent possible - and that is the space shuttle.

I am currently drafting legislation with colleagues in both houses that would spread out the four remaining shuttle missions and potentially add a certain number of additional flights following a review by NASA of hardware that will be essential to maintaining the station. I believe that as we debate long-term future of our human space program, it is prudent to take steps to ensure the Space Shuttles can continue to operate in order to fully support and service the ISS. This action will also help to preserve the highly-skilled workforce and operational expertise that will be needed for the next generation program.

I urge you to include in the FY11 budget resolution $1.2 billion in additional funds for the space shuttle program above the President's request, to possibly spread out the remaining manifest and add missions, such as STS-135, as well as $100 million in additional funds for the International Space Station in order to provide for the procurement of additional hardware.

Our human space program is a national treasure. It has served as a source of inspiration for young scientists and engineers, it has accelerated the development of technologies that improve lives here on Earth, and it has greatly contributed to our nation's economic and national security. We should take steps to protect our strategic capabilities - including the shuttle program and its highly-skilled workers - while Congress debates the President's budget proposal and the future of our human space flight program.

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