Sen. Bill Nelson Praises, Criticizes, Obama's Budget Request for NASA

Sen. Bill Nelson Praises, Criticizes, Obama's Budget Request for NASA

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), chairman of the Senate subcommittee that authorizes NASA activities, took to the floor of the Senate Tuesday to both praise and criticize President Obama’s FY2011 budget request for NASA.

The praise was for the addition of $6 billion to the NASA budget over the next five years, extension of the U.S. commitment to the International Space Station to 2020, and increasing technology development for a new heavy lift launch vehicle. However, he strongly criticized the President’s decision to cancel the Constellation program and urged the President to “repair the image” that he is killing the human space flight program.

Emphasizing that only Presidents can set the vision for the U.S. space program, Senator Nelson called on the President to set a goal of human exploration of Mars, noting that the New York Times endorsed that goal in a recent editorial. He argued for continued tests of the Ares I rocket as a precursor to whatever heavy lift launch vehicle is developed. He concluded by saying —

“I urge the White House to start listening to some of their most vigorous supporters in the Congress. I can tell you other Members on both sides of the aisle are not pleased with the way the President’s message about the future of human spaceflight has been received. If we can work together, we can get the perception of our space exploration back on track.”

The video of his remarks and a transcript are available on C-SPAN’s website. A statement on the Senator’s website says that his subcommittee (the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee) will hold a hearing on this issue on February 24.

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