Augustine Letter to Rep. Wolf Seeks to Clarify Committee's Position

Augustine Letter to Rep. Wolf Seeks to Clarify Committee's Position

Responding to a letter from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), ranking member of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, Norm Augustine clarified that canceling the Constellation program was not specifically one of the options his committee put forward last year. Mr. Augustine chaired a blue-ribbon committee established by NASA at the request of the White House to provide options for the human space flight program. The exchange of letters was made public by Rep. Wolf’s office today.

Mr. Augustine stressed that his committee was asked to develop options, not recommendations, and that the President’s proposal to cancel Constellation came closest the committee’s option 5B.

“As to the second matter you posed, the program contained in the FY11 et seq. federal budget was not one of the specific options contained in our panel’s report. It perhaps most closely approximates Option 5B; however, the difference in available funding, even though increased relative to the prior budget plan, obviously has to be considered. It could be argued that were one to decide to terminate the Ares I development (as is the case in Option 5B), and with the not unimportant exception of its impact on the Orion effort, that action is tantamount to canceling the entire Constellation program in its present form since work has barely begun on the Ares V and the Altair.”

At the time the President’s proposal to cancel Constellation was announced, the White House posted a letter from Mr. Augustine on the OSTP website that was similarly careful in its language, but was viewed by many as supporting the decision.

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