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Nasa's Constellation Program

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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* Mr. HALL of Texas. Madam Speaker, I remain very concerned about the direction of our Nation's space agency under the Obama plan. This Administration has made the surprisingly drastic decision to cancel NASA's follow-on to, the space shuttle, the Constellation program. Constellation would provide the means to service and use the International Space Station, and once again explore beyond low earth orbit.

* Canceling the Constellation program threatens our country with the potential loss of tens of thousands of highly-skilled and well-paid jobs. As important as jobs are right now, by canceling Constellation we stand to lose more than just jobs. We are losing American know-how and expertise. The NASA contractor team is a national asset, one that would be difficult and costly to duplicate.

* Next year with the retirement of the Space Shuttle, the U.S. will have no way to launch anyone into space. American astronauts and our international partners will have to hitch rides on Russian spacecraft, launched from a Russian base, to get into low earth orbit and visit the International Space Station. I do not think this is the best plan to maintain American preeminence in space.

* I have fought hard here in Congress to defend NASA's budget so that they can perform meaningful work. Yet there seems to be a disturbing trend at NASA where priorities are shifted away from what I think should be their top goal--manned space exploration. Rather than focus on the vital elements necessary to maintain American leadership in space, the Obama administration and NASA are distracted with programs that seem to spend money on anything but human space flight.

* Last week, the administration came forward with a request to transfer $100 million out of NASA's already limited human space flight budget and give it to the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor to fund an Interagency task force to spur ``regional economic growth and job creation'' aimed at helping Florida and other states bracing for job losses associated with the end of the space shuttle program. Our nation's best and brightest engineers and technicians want to be engaged in building rockets and spacecraft. America's space program already generates substantial amounts of regional economic growth. It does not make sense to kill a program that delivered huge returns on investment to create a government program to retrain and retool workers for some possible, undefined jobs in the future.

* The announcement the cancellation of the Constellation program in favor of a $100 million interagency task force, along with several other recently announced NASA initiatives, paints a broad picture of an agency without a clear mission.

* NASA is a mission-driven organization that produces its best results with clearly defined goals and the resources to achieve them. With the retirement of the Space Shuttle and a plan to cancel the Constellation program, it is more important than ever that we work together to provide NASA with the legislative guidance it needs.

* The men and women of our nation's human space flight program have given us so much to be proud of. Through their focus, sacrifice and dedication they have enabled the United States to be the global leader in human space flight. They have earned our respect and gratitude, and we should deliver a program that keeps them, and our nation, focused on leading the world in spaceflight.

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