Congressman Parker Griffith met today the NASA Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems, Dr. Doug Cooke, a 35 year veteran of the U.S. space program. Griffith met with Dr. Cooke today preceding President Obama's trip down to Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week when he will attempt to sell his proposed space plan.
During the meeting with Dr. Cooke, Griffith discussed the importance of manned space flight and the need to continue the Constellation Program. He also discussed with Dr. Cooke the possible implications for the more than 2,500 workers at Marshall Space Flight Center and the many contractors who support Marshall, should the program be cancelled.
"Space exploration, scientific discovery and research are cornerstones of the Tennessee Valley," said Griffith. "North Alabama, along with other space-centered communities - such as Kennedy Space Center in Florida, have the responsibility to guarantee that the United States remains ahead of all other countries in technology and space development. A bidding war between private companies on our space program not only will interrupt years of research, but will also jeopardize our national security."
In a teleconference late last week, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden explained the activities that would be managed by each of the space flight centers. Marshall Space Flight Center would manage the $3.1 billion heavy-lift and propulsion research and development effort, the $2.6 billion exploration robotic precursor mission program, and another $1.4 billion in space technology demonstrations.
Dr. Cook indicated during today's meeting with Griffith that the civil servants currently working at Marshall Space Flight Center in the future would be doing substantive and challenging work.
"We cannot cancel the Constellation program -- it is too important to the United States," said Griffith. "If the President and his administration eliminate this program it means that we are scrapping four and a half years and billions of dollars of research. The Constellation Program is essential to our national security, our national pride, and our north Alabama communities. I will be working in a bi-partisan fashion on the House floor to defeat the President's initiative."
Griffith is a member of the NASA Caucus.