or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Letter to Dr. Albert Carnesale, Chairman, Space Studies Board

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, today called on a panel of experts outside of government reviewing the NASA's strategic direction to be "bold and unreserved" in its recommendations for the future of the nation's space program.

In a letter to the chairman of the Committee on NASA's Strategic Direction, which was established in the fiscal year 2012 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill at Wolf's direction and is having its second meeting in Washington this week, Wolf wrote that he hopes the panel will help develop a bold, strategic direction for NASA that will ensure that America remains the global leader in space in the 21st century.

Wolf asked the panel to explore a number of ideas, including whether the NASA administrator should serve a set 10-year term, similar to the director of the FBI, to ensure greater independence from the White House and to improve cohesiveness over multiple administrations. He also asked if NASA should submit its budget request concurrently to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget to provide greater independence for the agency.

" Â…the committee should be bold, thought provoking and inspired in its recommendations, while recognizing the federal budget outlook over the coming years," Wolf wrote. "Your insights are needed now more than ever."

Wolf opened his letter by describing how the Washington, D.C., region was captivated by the sight of the Space Shuttle Discovery flying over the Mall on its way to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum near Dulles airport and explained how thousands of people poured out of office buildings to watch.

"It was an incredible sight; and a powerful reminder of the exceptional impact of the U.S. space program -- given the right strategic direction and vision," Wolf wrote.

Wolf also reminded the panel that NASA is facing greater competition today.

"Over the last 30 years, the U.S. has lacked significant competition in space from other nation states," Wolf said. "However, this is changing with the rapid development of the Chinese space program, led by the Peoples Liberation Army. Russia has also recently recommitted to a robust space program in the 21st Century. The U.S. no longer has the luxury of being the world leader in space exploration by default. Much like the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. is going to have to compete again to stay ahead. I hope that your committee's report will help identify a strategic path forward."

Below is the complete text of Wolf's letter:

Dr. Albert Carnesale
Chairman
Space Studies Board
500 Fifth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Dr. Carnesale:

For a brief moment earlier this year, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia came to a standstill as the Space Shuttle Discovery was flown over the region on its way to its new home at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center, near Dulles Airport. Thousands of people poured out of office buildings, museums and schools to watch this unique moment. It was an incredible sight; and a powerful reminder of the exceptional impact of the U.S. space program -- given the right strategic direction and vision.

Unfortunately, Discovery's retirement flight underscores the troubling lack of strategic direction that exists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) today. In many ways the agency is busier than ever, but its mission is more ambiguous than ever. If one were to ask a NASA employee, much less an American citizen, what the agency's top priority is today, one would receive vastly different answers. When you contrast that to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era, the answer to the same question would have been unambiguous: the Moon.

While there is strong congressional support for American astronauts to return to the Moon, and eventually travel to Mars, the administration still refuses to articulate a clear mission for NASA's exploration program. There is a critical need for a U.S. system to return American astronauts to the International Space Station, but until very recently NASA's roadmap for this effort remained unnecessarily vague. And despite strong congressional support for NASA's flagship planetary science missions, the administration proposed significant cuts to future missions.

While I believe NASA's direction has reached a new low during this administration, the enclosed chart that has come to my attention summarizing canceled human spaceflight development programs over the last several decades shows that this has been a problem for some time. As your committee meets to consider the strategic direction for the NASA, I urge you to be bold and unreserved in your assessment and recommendations. With the anticipated reauthorization of NASA next year, your final report will be timely and will help inform the Congress as it crafts this important legislation.

In addition to reviewing NASA's mission, goals and objectives, I ask that you consider several specific issues:

I urge you to take a close look at the agency's structure and facilities. If NASA were being established today, how would it be structured and what would its priority programs be for the 21st Century?

I also urge you to consider whether the NASA administrator should serve a set 10-year term, similar to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to ensure greater independence from the White House and improve cohesiveness over multiple administrations?

Additionally, I believe your committee should consider whether NASA should submit its budget request concurrently to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget, and have an outside board of directors.

These are just a few of the important questions that I urge your committee to seriously consider over the course of your meetings. Again, the committee should be bold, thought provoking and inspired in its recommendations, while recognizing the federal budget outlook over the coming years. Your insights are needed now more than ever.

Over the last 30 years, the U.S. has lacked significant competition in space from other nation states. However, this is changing with the rapid development of the Chinese space program, led by the Peoples Liberation Army. Russia has also recently recommitted to a robust space program in the 21st Century. The U.S. no longer has the luxury of being the world leader in space exploration by default. Much like the 1950s and 1960s, the U.S. is going to have to compete again to stay ahead. I hope that your committee's report will help identify a strategic path forward.

I look forward to your final report and appreciate each member of the committee's service on this critical task.

Best wishes.

Sincerely,

Frank Wolf
Member of Congress


Source:
Back to top