S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Norman Augustine, Mike Griffin appear before House committee re space program

The House Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Bart Gordon, listened to some bad news and some good news from four high powered witnesses Tuesday afternoon.Veteran space reporter, Bill Harwood of CBS News and The Space Shot, explained how the congressional committee questioned whether the space program should contemplate taking a new direction.  Both of the main witnesses, namely former Lockheed CEO Augustine who chaired the Human Space Flight Plans Review Committee, as well as the former head of NASA Griffin,  stated that the next generation Constellation rocket program, established under the Bush administration, could work if given enough money.  Both maintained that it cannot, however, come to fruition under the current starved NASA budget.  The HSF committee found that NASA be unable to return to the moon or go beyond low earth orbit without at least another $3 billion in each of the upcoming years.  One of the witnesses emphasized that safety is of the high priority, as did the study committee.

Congress came to the five year old rocket program's defense at times and some, mainly Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz), attacked the Augustine Committee's summary report, rejecting what she termed the "glancing attention" the panel gave to the current progress of the Constellation.  Giffords, married to astronaut Mark Kelly, chairs the House Space Subcommittee that will continue work on the markup.  She insisted that the study panel was supposed to provide a recommendation of what to do, rather than accepting Chairman Augustine's view that the final report is still to be published, and that his committee charter from the administration asked only for a set of possible options, not choosing one over the other. 

Most members of the committee seem to feel that there must be some way to come up with the money needed and most seem reluctant to drop the Constellation program.  And most House members gave praise to the Augustine Committee's work for its forthrightness and excellent work under severe time restraints.  The full report should be available by the end of September.

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