UPDATE: Senator Mikulski Shares Her Views on the New NASA Plan

UPDATE: Senator Mikulski Shares Her Views on the New NASA Plan

UPDATE: Read the entire letter from Senator Mikulski to Senator Nelson here.


In a letter to Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the Senate Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee that funds NASA, shared her views on the new plan for NASA unveiled in the President’sFY2011 budget request. The letter is excerpted by Space News as including the following points:

  • chief among her principles is astronaut safety
  • a clear destination for human space flight is needed
  • international partners should be engaged to the maximum extent practicable in formulating common destinations for human and robotic spaceflight
  • the space program must be balanced and science should be its driving purpose
  • NASA should maximize its current and future scientific assets in low Earth orbit and beyond, including extending the life of the International Space Station which should be resupplied by commercial cargo
  • NASA’s future direction must include a plan to maintain critical skills and soften job dislocations

The Space News summary says that Senator Mikulski plans to ask Administration officials the following questions:

  • where is NASA planning to go, how will it get there, and what will it take?
  • is the intention to “scrap everything and start over” and if so, what is the plan to mitigate job dislocations?
  • how will the change protect investments in Earth and space science and aeronautics in FY2011 and the future?

Senator Nelson is Senator Mikulski’s counterpart on the subcommittee that authorizes NASA activities (the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee). Both are powerful voices for NASA on Capitol Hill. Senator Mikulski’s letter said that it was more important than ever for the two subcommittees to work in consultation as they consider the President’s proposal. (Not sure of the difference between an appropriation and an authorization? See our “What’s A Markup?” Fact Sheet.)

Senator Nelson is planning an authorization hearing on the NASA proposal on February 24. Senator Mikulski will hold an appropriations hearing on March 25.

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