Reps. Gene Green (TX-29), Frank Wolf (VA-10), and John Culberson (TX-07) today expressed strong support for the Senate NASA authorization bill’s inclusion of funding for a NASA-owned heavy lift vehicle capable of traveling to the moon, Mars and beyond.
The President’s budget proposal released on February 1 cancelled the Constellation program and instead proposed funding for space transportation solely in up-and-coming private companies. Congress strongly rejected this, citing concerns of terminating a program in which taxpayers had made a $9 billion investment and relying on companies without proven capabilities. In the following months, Members of Congress worked with industry experts and with NASA and the Obama Administration to reach a compromise: Immediately develop a heavy lift vehicle and continue funding for the Orion, the deep space crew capsule.
The catalyst for compromise came in the form of a bipartisan letter signed by more than 60 House Members and led by Rep. Green, Rep. Wolf, Rep. Ruppersberger and Rep. Culberson. The letter called on President Obama to support the immediate development of a heavy lift architecture – as opposed to waiting until 2015 – allowing the United States to continue the elite astronaut corps, preserve an irreplaceable workforce, protect the defense industrial base, and ensure that the U.S. will travel beyond low-Earth orbit within the decade.
Today the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed a bill that authorizes the immediate development of a heavy lift vehicle. The new direction for NASA’s human space flight program will utilize the engineering and technology advancements accomplished through Constellation and keep the United States at the forefront of space exploration. Now, the House Science and Technology Committee must act quickly to ensure NASA immediately develops a heavy lift vehicle and continues investment in the Orion.
Rep. Gene Green:
“Ensuring that our nation remains at the forefront of human space exploration is a top priority of mine. I believe that this compromise is an important step toward maintaining America’s preeminence in science and technology, especially space exploration.”
Rep. Frank Wolf:
“I was pleased to see the Senate embrace our compromise proposal, which ensures continued American leadership in space. Last month, 62 members of the House representing 18 states sent a strong message to the president urging his support for this compromise. I am pleased that the Senate sent a similar message today.”
Rep. John Culberson:
“I could not be more pleased to see that the Senate answered our call to protect the taxpayers’ investment and ensure that the United States remains the leader in human space exploration. This was a team effort, and I want to thank Reps. Wolf, Green, and Olson as well as my other colleagues who have worked tirelessly to protect NASA’s human space flight program.”