Lyles, Fisk and Colladay: Pendulum Has Swung Too Far The Other Way

Lyles, Fisk and Colladay: Pendulum Has Swung Too Far The Other Way

The chair and vice-chairs of the 2009 National Research Council (NRC) study “America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program With National Needs” think the Obama plan for NASA makes the NASA program just as unbalanced as its predecessor. “This time the pendulum has swung the other way,” write Gen. Lester Lyles (Ret), Dr. Lennard Fisk and Dr. Raymond Colladay in a joint letter to Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), ranking member of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee. Rep. Wolf’s office is making the letter public.

Gen. Lyles not only chaired the NRC committee, but served as a member of the Augustine Committee. Dr. Colladay is chair of the NRC’s Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and is a former NASA Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Technology and a former Lockheed Martin executive. Dr. Fisk is the immediate past chair of the NRC’s Space Studies Board and a former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Science and Applications; he is currently a distinguished university professor of space science at the University of Michigan.

In their letter to Rep. Wolf, the three note that under the Bush Administration, NASA space and earth science programs and technology development efforts were underfunded in order to provide funding for human space flight activities, including Constellation. Today, they write, the Obama Administration is proposing to take money from Constellation in order to fund science and technology development programs.

“It makes no more sense to have a NASA with an under-emphasis on human spaceflight than it did to have a NASA with an over-emphasis. The strategic leadership of the United States in a rapidly evolving globalized world, the economic well-being of our people, and the sense in our society that our future is promising, all require a NASA that has breadth in science and technology, and accomplishments in both robotic and human spaceflight.”

They conclude it is up to Congress and NASA to craft a human space flight program that does not “re-inflict damage on the breadth of NASA’s activities” and that whatever NASA does “truly befits a great nation.”

The 2009 NRC study was internally funded by the National Academies.

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