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Houston region continues national fight to urge leaders to save NASA's Human Space Flight Capabilities

Press Release From: Greater Houston Partnership and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Posted: Monday, June 28, 2010

image Program elimination would jeopardize national security and scientific innovation

The Greater Houston Partnership and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership today urged the Obama administration to reconsider the retirement of the space shuttle and cancel its plan in the FY2011 NASA budget to eliminate the Constellation program - in favor of "hoped for" commercially developed capabilities that are still up to seven years away, assuming there are no further setbacks. Continuing the prevision plan to retire the Space Shuttle while also terminating the Constellation program in the face of such a long gap before the commercial industry can carry U.S. astronauts safely into low earth orbit would deal a severe blow to Houston and the nation, and compromise America's leadership in space.

GHP(the primary advocate of Houston's business community) and BAHEP (regional organization and home to NASA's Johnson Space Center) join members of Texas' congressional delegation, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Reps. Pete Olson, Gene Green John Culberson and Kevin Brady, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Harris County Precinct Two Commissioner Sylvia R. Garcia in opposing the Obama administration's quest to eliminate the Space Shuttle and the Constellation program, both of which are a critical part of the Johnson Space Center.

GHP is calling on the administration to produce a blueprint for NASA's human space flight program that continues to inspire America's youth to careers in science and technology and builds on, not abandons, the nearly $10 billion already invested in Constellation, and maintains our ability to transport U.S. astronauts and supplies to the nearly completed International Space Station.

"With all due respect, we believe President Obama's vision for NASA runs contrary to the desires of many Americans, and most of us in the Houston region," said Patrick Oxford, Chairman of GHP's Board of Directors. "We believe the president should fully fund, not cancel, the Constellation program, and begin immediate development of a heavy lift launch vehicle instead of waiting until 2015 just to decide on a vehicle to build. The Johnson Space Center is a Crown Jewel in the Houston region. It has a talented, highly-educated work force that is well-equipped to help transition to the development of a heavy lift launch vehicle."

If the Constellation program is not continued in the administration's FY2011 budget, the Johnson Space Center could lose up to 7,000 direct and indirect jobs with a resulting loss of income and expenditures reaching $1 billion in the Houston region. Once these jobs are lost, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to replace the expertise that built our current space flight capabilities.

"That kind of job loss is totally unacceptable as well as unconscionable when there are good options on the table for the administration to embrace," said Jeff Moseley, President and CEO of GHP. "We're urging the administration to listen to the reasonable voices of dissent to the plan that are emanating not only from this region, but across the nation."

GHP strongly supports requests by members of Texas' congressional delegation, Mayor Parker, Commissioner Garcia and BAHEP to:

* Allow for a limited number of Space Shuttle flights to reduce the human space flight gap and deliver needed supplies and replacement parts to sustain the International Space Station through 2020

* Continue the Constellation program

* Fast-track the development of a heavy lift vehicle, starting in 2011, rather than 2015

GHP also agrees with a bipartisan letter authored by Reps. Green and Culberson and sent to the administration. The letter states, in part, that: "Accelerating a deep space launch vehicle program will help preserve an irreplaceable work force by ensuring transition of our highly skilled space workers to a program of comparable magnitude and complexity. Our space work force carries with it the experience of this generation's only human spaceflight program."

For more information on the Houston region, call 713-844-3647 or visit houston.org.

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The Greater Houston Partnership is the primary advocate of Houston's business community and is dedicated to building regional economic prosperity. It represents 10 counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto and Waller.

Opportunity Houston is an aggressive five-year marketing and lead generation program that will help grow jobs, increase capital investment and expand foreign trade for the region by the end of 2015. Visit the Greater Houston Partnership on the World Wide Web at houston.org.

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