Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

The Case in Support of NASA's Constellation Program

"...the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation...We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."  President Kennedy, Rice University 1962

Pete Olson on the importance of human space exploration - Since that historic speech, the United States made the commitment and we became the global leader in human spaceflight.  America not only put the first man on the moon, but also made technological advancements that have improved our every day lives.  The economic, scientific and technological returns of space exploration have far exceeded our nation’s investment.  Earth observations through space exploration have provided G.P.S., meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, as well as surveillance and intelligence. Satellite communications have changed how we live through computer operations, cell phones, and television.

The United States global superiority depends upon a vital human space flight program.  For the last 50 years, we have been the world leader economically, militarily, and scientifically.  Our nation forged paths that were previously unimaginable through our willingness to make the investments and take the risks required to be the best.  America prides itself on this ability and we have seen many great accomplishments as a result of this commitment.

The Administration's Fiscal Year 2011 budget will shut down America's ability to continue human space flight by killing the Constellation program within NASA.  Constellation is the best option to get to the Moon and beyond.  The Moon should be our first destination so that we can develop the expertise and systems necessary to go even further.

Yet the Administration’s own Augustine report stated that, “There is now a strong consensus in the United States that the next step in human spaceflight is to travel beyond low-Earth orbit.” It is absurd to abandon the only program designed for operations beyond low earth orbit.  Commercial operations, while important , still set the United States back decades with respect to human space flight.  They have no proven track record in this arena.  Human space flight is enormously complex and the costs cannot be understimated from a safety standpoint.  NASA has 50 years of experience and the track record to continue these operations, not start from scratch. If the United States abandons human space flight we are, without question, placing America in the second tier at most with all other nations. 

February 2011 Letter to House Appropriators on maintaining fiscal discipline and a strong human space flight program for NASA.  

What the Administration’s FY 2011 Budget Means for Human Space Flight and Taxpayers

The Constellation program has already been a $9 billion taxpayer investment.  The Administration's FY2011 budget allocates an additional $2.5 billion alone to kill Constellation.  There is no taxpayer incentive or benefit to end Constellation.  The government is not saving money by ending this program, merely shifting it to subsidize entities that lack the expertise or track record for safely putting man into space.

This budget proposal throws away $11.5 billion in taxpayer funds to end human space flight.  Placing  the U.S. squarely behind China, India and Russia.  The Administration's plan not only seeks to give billions of tax dollars to unproven commercial entities, but will also cost a great deal more in the years to come.

House Science and Technology Commitee Passes NASA Authorization Act

Click Here for the Science and Technology Minority Press Release - July 22nd

Press Coverage

House Commitee Action Could Spell Relief for JSC - Texas on the Potomac  
House Science Panel OKs NASA Authorization - Aviation Week
House Science and Technology Committee Passes its Version of NASA Authorizaiton Bill - Houston Examiner 

Support for Olson's Efforts in Washington

Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce (HCCC)
Dear Congressman Olson:

I am writing on behalf of the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce (HCCC) to express our support for your efforts, and those of the other members of Congress, to preserve NASA’s Constellation human spaceflight program.  HCCC is the oldest and largest African-American chamber of commerce in Houston, Texas.

HCCC supports your efforts because NASA’s human spaceflight program has been a source of scientific discoveries that have enhanced humanity’s quality of life.  The program has also been a meaningful source of employment and contracting opportunities for African-American business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals across Texas and our nation.

The future of our nation’s long term prosperity and national security is dependent on innovation and more young Americans being educated in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  NASA’s human spaceflight program is a great motivator and incentive for STEM education.

African-American astronauts have not just provided younger African-Americans with a sense of pride, they have been a source of inspiration that has motivated achievement that has been excellent.

Finally, the taxpayers have invested billions of dollars in the Constellation program and we are now on the cusp of achieving a substantial return on that investment.  Why spend billions of dollars to cancel a program when those same dollars can be used to complete what NASA has started.

These are just some of the reasons that HCCC supports the continuation of the Constellation program.

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.
Chairman, HCCC

Olson in the Media on NASA/Constellation

House Panel Passes NASA Bill

The House Committee on Science and Technology has passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which is a companion to the Senate’s recently passed NASA Authorization Bill.

Like the Senate bill, it completely revamps President Obama’s NASA budget proposal that would kill the Constellation program and, in essence, would have cost from 20,000 to 30,000 space agency jobs – about 7,000 in the Clear Lake area.

Instead, the bill calls for the preservation of the Orion space capsule and the Ares I rocket.

Olson thinks Obama Surprised by Opposition

Too Many Questions Remain
By: Rep. Pete Olson
June 28, 2010

US must remain the global leader in Space
By: Rep. Pete Olson
May 4, 2010
The president acknowledged recently his initial proposal to alter NASA’s mission was dead on arrival in Congress.  Unfortunately, his new vision isn’t much better.

Houston, we have a real problem
By: Rep. Pete Olson and Rep. Ed Perlmutter
March 31, 2010
America’s dominance in space has always been so much more than a race to be first. It has signaled our nation’s commitment to forge paths once unimaginable. Scientific and technological discoveries are born from both necessity and risk taking. The journey of space exploration has taken the United States to global leadership on many fronts.

Opportunity, challenge in keeping spaceflight alive
March 3, 2010
In working on this issue in Congress, I see this outpouring reflected by the bipartisan support that is emerging from all parts of our country for human spaceflight. Republicans and Democrats alike are expressing support for maintaining Constellation and asking the tough questions of NASA and the White House. I am approached daily by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle asking how they can help with this fight. Each day we increase our support.

NASA Gets Flak on New Course
March 1, 2010
Various lawmakers typically supportive of NASA requests said they were "floored" or shocked by the budget package. Complaining that the agency provided only "vague assurances that [astronaut] safety will not be undermined" by the new plan, Rep. Pete Olson, a Texas Republican who represents many NASA employees, confronted Mr. Bolden. He said NASA's leader "managed to surprise, frustrate and anger those of us who have been your greatest advocates."

National Journal
NASA's Mission To Planet Congress
Monday, March 1, 2010
The pushback was clear on Wednesday, when administration officials were put in the hot seat by rocket-friendly legislators such as Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who chairs NASA's authorization panel, and Texas Rep. Pete Olson, the ranking Republican on the House science committee's space panel.

NASA’s New Direction Drawing Fire From House and Senate lawmakers
Feb. 26, 2010
Bolden encountered a similar mix of skepticism, anger and concern the next day when he testified before the House Science and Technology Committee, where he faced more questions about his involvement in the decision-making process that led to the abandonment of Constellation. 
Abandoning human space flight is shortsighted
By Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) 

Olson: President doesn’t have final word
By Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas)

NASA chief: Mars is our mission
‘Fight, fight, fight' vowed
Congressional critics…“The president's plan is not what our country needs at this time,” said Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. “We have been the world's leader for 50 years, and I can't accept that we're going to fall behind. We are going to fight, fight, fight to ensure that the next person who steps on the moon is an American.”

Obama's NASA facelift faces tough fight in Congress
"I strongly urge the President to reconsider any attempt to reduce the role of human space flight at NASA," said Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas. "But Congress also has an important role in the decision making process and I will be working steadfastly with my colleagues to ensure that this short sighted proposal is not the final answer on the future of NASA."

Other Voices in Support of NASA

Houston Mayor Annise Parker - "I believe President Obama has made a major mistake in eliminating the Constellation program.  This has huge potential impact on Houston and the region, and we are working on two fronts to ensure Houston comes out of this ok.  First, BAHEP, the Greater Houston Partnership and the city are tapping their networks in Washington to urge reconsideration of the President's decision.  Second, we are positioning Houston to capture the Mars project.  Because of NASA, we are uniquely positioned for whatever direction the country is headed regarding space exploration.  There should be no debate as to whether future human space flight projects are based in Houston."

Closing the new frontier
Charles Krauthammer
February 12, 2010
"At the peak of the Apollo program, NASA was consuming almost 4 percent of the federal budget, which in terms of the 2011 budget is about $150 billion. Today the manned space program will die for want of $3 billion a year -- 1/300th of last year's stimulus package with its endless make-work projects that will leave not a trace on the national consciousness."

Space: The Only Frontier
Mark Mills, February 16, 2010
President Obama is making a mistake by shelving manned space exploration. We need a space program that inspires and elevates the spirit.

Obama Budget Risks America’s Leadership In Space
Daniel Goure, Ph.D.
February 11, 2010
Conservatives are wrong when they accuse our President of being against private business and the free enterprise system. In the administration’s proposed 2011 budget, America’s manned space flight program is turned over to the private sector. So, on the one side of the ledger we have government ownership of banks, insurance firms, automobile giants GM and Chrysler, and, if the Congress can ever get out of its own way, health care. On the other side of the ledger, we have the private sector now totally responsible for getting Americans back into space. The scales seem to be in balance.