Thu, Sep 17, 2009
Committee Chair Says Alternatives "Look Like Cartoons"
At a hearing before the House
Science and Technology Committee Tuesday, Human Space Flight
Commission Chair Norman Augustine found himself defending the
committees' recommendations to scrap a planned return to the moon
given NASA's budget constraints. The Commission did say a return to
the moon was feasible, but only if NASA's budget were increase by
about $3 billion per year.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), chair of the Space
subcommittee, said she was angry about the recommendations.
“We’ve been given a set of alternatives that almost
look like cartoons,” she said.
Bloomberg News reports Augustine replied that Giffords might not
have enough information. “I respect your feelings,” he
said to Gifford during the hearing. “I must question your
Among the recommendations of the Human Space Flight Commission
was that NASA continue to use current shuttle technology, which
dates back to the 1970's, as a cost cutting measure. There were
also recommendations that an unmanned expedition to Mars or
exploration of asteroids were feasible. But to continue the
Constellation program, which has suffered some technological
setbacks, additional money would be needed. “The current
program that’s being pursued is not executable,”
Augustine told the panel.
NASA Orion Capsule Scale Model Water
Simply to continue the shuttle program beyond its expected
retirement next year would cost an additional $2.5 billion per
year, Augustine said.
Former President Bush introduced the ambitious return to the
moon by 2020 in his second term in office, and President Obama had
originally agreed to that timeline. Representative Ralph Hall
(R-TX), the committees senior Republican, said NASA's direction is
not the issue. “Why don’t we just fund the programs
we’ve agreed to,” he said.
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