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NASA Needs More Funding to Close the Gap and Maintain America’s Leadership in Space Exploration
Posey Urges Adoption of Option to Fly Shuttle Longer to Close Space Gap

Washington, October 22, 2009 - Today the U.S. Human Space Flight Plan Committee released its final report concluding that NASA will need additional funding in order to close the space gap and move forward with the Constellation program.

“I commend the Committee for their hard work and putting some specifics on paper. But, the biggest issue facing NASA remains the same: Will Washington make NASA a budget priority? That is the question that has plagued the agency for the past several years, and the budget proposed by the Administration falls far short of making NASA a priority,” said U.S. Representative Bill Posey, who worked on the Apollo 11 program as a young man. “If the President is going to keep his promise to close the gap and keep America first in space he must revise his budget plan and put more money back into the NASA budget. I would fully support such a plan and, in fact, introduced a bill to do just this more than six months ago.”

With regard to the delays plaguing the Constellation program, Posey added, “Is it any wonder that Constellation is not meeting its schedule when you underfund it to the tune of $20 billion? You just can’t accomplish your mission by telling NASA to do something and then not giving them the money to do it. NASA’s space program is an American industry, it’s 100 percent American jobs, and it gives us the competitive edge; it should be a higher priority for Congress.”

“The report confirms what some of us have been saying for months and that is that the marginal costs of continuing to fly the Shuttle are not as large as many assume,” added Posey. The report makes clear that the only way to close the gap significantly is to extend Shuttle flights beyond 2010 and that the “savings resulting from Shuttle retirement are not as great as they appear. Conversely, the marginal costs of flying the Shuttle are less than implied by the existing bookkeeping.” This is largely due to the fact that NASA’s fixed costs will remain whether the Shuttle continues to fly or is retired.

Last April, Rep. Posey introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1962) with Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, to close the gap by (1) extending the Shuttle program through 2015, (2) investing additional resources in the Constellation program to close the gap, and (3) investing in and encouraging the development of commercial space suppliers to meet lower earth orbit (LEO) needs.

“If this Congress can find the money to increase foreign aid by $12 billion (33%) in a single year, certainly they can find one-tenth of that amount to keep the Shuttle flying,” Posey lamented. “The next month or so will be the proof in the pudding. Let’s hope the Administration keeps America first in space.”

The Augustine Committee report sets forth several options for consideration, each calling for additional funding resources. In his testimony before the Committee in July, Rep. Posey urged the Committee to do just this, to disregard the unrealistic constraints of assuming a flat line budget for NASA through 2014.

A copy of the U.S. Human Space Flight Plan Committee's Final Report can be viewed HERE

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