Holdren Tells House S&T "We're Certainly Not Giving Up in Deep Space"

Holdren Tells House S&T "We're Certainly Not Giving Up in Deep Space"

At a House Science and Technology hearing yesterday morning, Presidential Science Adviser John Holdren said “we are certainly not giving up in deep space,” with respect to the proposed changes to the human spaceflight program in the FY2011 budget request.

Short of actually naming Mars as the next destination for human spaceflight (as NASA Administrator Bolden did in a Senate hearing just hours later), Dr. Holdren fended off criticisms that the proposal has no plan for humans to explore space beyond low Earth orbit by saying that “the goal that we have is to take U.S. astronauts into deep space in a way that is safe [and] affordable – in a way that gets them to an array of deep space destinations not just to a particular one, in a particular moment.”

The NASA budget came under sharp criticism during the hearing. “I’ve never been more concerned with the future of human spaceflight” said Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX). He also criticized changes to the NPOESS program as similarly reflecting a policy shift with no analysis – both examples of what he described as “a troubled pattern.” Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) for his part included the decision to “scuttle the nation’s human spaceflight program” as an example of what he called a demonstration of a “tremendous amount of arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence” by the Administration. Representative Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) said that the lack of “concrete plans” threatens the existence of the skilled aerospace workforce and criticized the lack of specificity of the President’s proposal for NASA and for dealing with this issue. Dr. Holdren assured her that there will be more details forthcoming on how the Administration will mitigate job loss in this sector.

Dr. Holdren stood by the proposal saying that the budget describes “a science-and-technology-centered restructuring” for NASA, allowing the agency to “do things in space that are more useful and more exciting” than going back to the Moon. Ranking Member Hall agreed, saying “I don’t care to go to the Moon until our people can go to the grocery store; now’s not the time to do that” but admonished the decision to cancel the Constellation program. Dr. Holdren replied that the proposal acknowledges the Augustine Committee’s findings that the Constellation program was unexecutable, and said “what we think we are proposing is a program that has a better chance of success than Constellation of delivering what the American people want and expect of their program…in a budget we can afford.”

On a markedly different note, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) congratulated the Administration “for taking a courageous step” and “an honest approach to look at what NASA is all about.” Not bemoaning the loss of Constellation he said he was “pleased that this Administration is willing to stand up to the plate” and that the proposal shows that Constellation is not the only way to get into space.

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.