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Posey Testimony to Budget Committee: Preserve Human Space Flight and Give NASA Clear Direction

Press Release From: Rep. Bill Posey
Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - Today Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) testified before the House Budget Committee lamenting the lack of direction at NASA and asking the Budget Committee to make human space flight the highest priority within NASA's overall budget.

In August of 2008, the President promised Space Coast residents that he would close the gap between Shuttle and its replacement Constellation program, but he has since cancelled the Constellation program and NASA's latest budget proposal cuts $2 billion from NASA's next generation heavy lift rocket.

Congressman Posey's testimony before the House Budget Committee can be viewed HERE and a transcript has been provided below:

"Thank you Madam Chairman and Members, for the opportunity to appear before you this morning and urge you to preserve NASA's core mission which is human space flight.

"More specifically, I would ask that as you proceed in developing a budget resolution that you include sufficient funding and language directing NASA to make human space flight its highest priority.

"Our nation is critically near the tipping point of ceding our leadership in space exploration for our future generations, as many of you already know.

"Direction from NASA Administration has been seriously lacking with respect to their goals. By failing to set priorities within NASA's budget, the Administration has left NASA with no priorities.

"As a result, human space flight and Exploration are suffering and the U.S. will be ceding its leadership in space to China and Russia.

"Should Congress fail to step in where the Administration has left a leadership void we will be making an unacceptable compromise in our national security and lose economic and intangible benefits from our space program.

"The President abandoned the Constellation program in his budget, calling for it to be cancelled with no solid alternative or plan for the future. By so doing, he set our human space flight program dangerously adrift with vague milestones for the world's premiere space exploration organization.

"Last year, Congress and the Administration agreed on an Authorization Bill that focused on developing goals after the Space Shuttle's retirement. This included plans for a new heavy lift capacity while giving limited support to commercial operations.

"Unfortunately, the President's proposed budget is a substantial departure from the Authorization Bill that he signed into law in October--cutting $2 billion from the heavy lift program while increasing taxpayer subsidies for the low earth orbit commercial space companies.

"This cut is in spite of the fact that, by the Administration's own estimate, the 2016 timeline for a return to flight would have been unattainable at last year's projected funding levels.

"The President's Budget has misplaced priorities--gutting vital heavy lift capability while dealing significantly lighter cuts to unrelated projects like studying climate change.

"In Fiscal Year 2010, 16-- 16 federal agencies and departments were funded at over $8 billion to address climate change. There are NO, zero, zilch, nada, NO other agencies funded to pursue human space flight.

"Human space flight is a matter of national security. Space is the world's military high ground, our Golan Heights if you will.

"By ceding our leadership to other nations such as China, Russia, and India we would be literally giving them the ultimate military high ground.

"China and Russia have announced plans to colonize the Moon--they are not going there to collect and study rocks like we did.

"We also must not lose sight of the major asset that the human space flight workforce is to our nation. The workforce is not a spigot that you can turn on and off. It has taken decades to build and it will evaporate overnight with no programs in place.

"Without a clear vision and a robust investment in our human space flight program the community will quickly atrophy as these engineers and their expertise are lost to other pursuits and possibly even other countries.

"The Administration plans to retire the Shuttle program this summer after over 30 years of service: ferrying astronauts, modules, and components to the International Space Station; launching and repairing numerous satellites including the Hubble; launching three interplanetary probes; and advancing scientific experimentation including microgravity research--all important goals for this nation.

"Despite this incredible list of accomplishments, when Space Shuttle Atlantis touches down for the final time this summer, it will be more bitter than it will be sweet because there is currently no clear vision of the future of America's human space flight program. And, it is a step backward for American leadership in space.

"The time to refocus NASA on its primary human space flight mission is now. The Budget Committee has the authority to reject the Administration's continued efforts to reshape NASA as yet another agency without a clear focus--without a clear mission.

"Just imagine one day without your cell phones, one day without your laptops, one day without a weather report, one day without your GPS, one day not being able to use your credit card or withdraw cash from the bank-- all satellite linked communications. Most of the public realizes the compelling importance of this and that's why I ask you to give this your best consideration.

"Thank you for your leadership, and the opportunity to address you concerning human space flight."

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