Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Administrator Bolden: We Need a Plan for the Future of Human Space Flight

March 11, 2010
Press Release

Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) today joined with his colleagues Congressmen Gene Green (D-TX), Frank Wolf (R-VA), John Culberson (R-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Bill Posey (R-FL) to urge National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden to assemble a team of NASA experts to review options to maintain the capacity within the existing NASA budget to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond.  

“America’s leadership in human space exploration is a national priority that cannot be diminished,” Rep. Pete Olson said.  “Our technological advances, national security, and ability to inspire students to pursue the math, science and engineering careers, are dependent upon the U.S. remaining the global leader in human space flight.  America is at our best when we make the necessary commitment to excellence and refuse to accept failure as an option.  We urge NASA and its leadership to look for opportunities to make sure that we retain our ability to continue human space flight and request a report that outlines options for doing so.”
           
The letter sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden requests that he appoint a team of NASA experts to review how exploration spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing may be maintained within the proposed budget request to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond.  The team should report back within 30 days in order to provide the administration and Congress with this necessary information – before the President’s space summit in Florida on April 15.

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The Honorable Charles Bolden
Administrator
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E St, SW
Washington, DC 20546

Dear Administrator Bolden:

In light of the many questions surrounding the budget request for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Exploration Program, we urge you to assemble a team of NASA experts -- appointed by the Johnson, Marshall and Kennedy Space Center directors -- to review how exploration spacecraft and launch vehicle development and testing may be maintained within the proposed budget request to ensure uninterrupted, independent U.S. human space flight access to the International Space Station and beyond.  The team should report back within 30 days in order to provide the administration and Congress with this necessary information. 

President Obama has repeatedly discussed the need for American students to pursue degrees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.  However, by forsaking NASA’s exploration spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission in the FY11 budget, we will lose a key inspirational program that motivates young Americans to pursue STEM careers.  Space exploration has been the guiding star of American innovation -- the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Shuttle programs rallied generations of Americans to devote their careers to science and engineering. 

For this and many other reasons, it is imperative that the United Stated remain the world’s leading spacefaring nation.  To maintain this leadership, we ardently believe that NASA must continue development of its own exploration spacecraft and maintain a robust human spaceflight program.  Above all, NASA must have a clear exploration mission, timeline, goals, and a destination; and its funding must be carefully aligned with this exploration plan. 

Under this administration’s proposal, each of these critical elements is missing.  The U.S. will have no exploration spacecraft or launch vehicles in development for the foreseeable future.  By the time commercial low-Earth orbit vehicles are cleared for flight, U.S. astronauts will have nowhere to go.  NASA will no longer have a clear vision on its direction and ultimately the U.S. will no longer be a spacefaring nation. 

Fortunately, NASA’s workforce contains the world’s leading scientists, engineers, and human spaceflight experts.  We believe they are ideally situated to review U.S. exploration systems and goals and to report back on how these may be maintained within the proposed budget.  Specifically, the team should review how current exploration system development and tests may be accommodated within the current budget request.  Additionally, astronaut safety should be of paramount concern throughout this review. 

We believe that this review is essential to the consideration of NASA’s FY11 budget.  We look forward to your response and the report of the NASA review panel. 

Signers: Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Pete Olson (R-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Gene Green (D-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), David Wu (D-OR), Steven LaTourette (R-OH), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Artur Davis (R-AL), Mike Rogers (R-AL), and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT).

Contact: Melissa Kelly
202-225-5951