Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Olson Questions Holdren on Administration Budget Plans on NASA's Constellation Program

February 24, 2010
Press Release

Rep. Pete Olson, the Ranking Member of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, today questioned Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology on the 2011 budget proposal for NASA and human space flight.  Olson issued the following statement after the hearing:

“The Administration has some explaining to do with respect to its commitment to human space flight,” Olson said.  “The proposed budget outlines priorities that focus on climate research over human space flight by killing the replacement of the shuttle, the Constellation program.  It rejects the recommendations of the Augustine commission stated “There is now a strong consensus in the United States that the next step in human spaceflight is to travel beyond low-earth orbit.” 

“Dr, Holdren touts the Augustine report, yet his actions have condemned NASA to low earth orbit in opposition to that report’s recommendations. America has been the global leader on space exploration for 50 years and must remain the leader going forward.  This isn’t a partisan issue.  Under both Republican and Democrat control authorization for human space flight has been overwhelming.  Commercial entities have an important role, but they cannot replace the institutional knowledge, experience and safety record of NASA.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure America retains a strong human space flight program.”

Olson asked the following questions of Dr. Holdren at the hearing:

? I want to begin by offering an admonition and express my disappointment that you have on more than one occasion referred to Constellation as “George W. Bush's Constellation program.” This unduly politicizes human space flight, which has been overwhelmingly bipartisan throughout its existence.

? The roll call vote of for the 2005 Authorization Act, which was passed under Republican control was 383-15.”  The roll call vote for the 2008 Authorization Act, which was passed under Democratic control was 409-15.”

? The Augustine report was very clear, “There is now a strong consensus in the United States that the next step in human spaceflight is to travel beyond low-earth orbit.”  You herald the Augustine report, yet your actions have condemned NASA to low earth orbit.  Why have you disregarded that recommendation? 

? I’d like to know how you came to this decision, process- wise.  Have you or your staff in the course of working out this budget proposal, met with any of the current Constellation contractors?  Have you or your staff met with anyone representing the soon to be subsidized entities, SpaceX or Orbital?

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Contact: Melissa Kelly
202-225-5951