Eye Opener: Paying to put men back on the Moon
Happy Tuesday! On a day when President Obama spent some time discussing the importance of math and science education, a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged him on Monday to adopt the recent recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel that studied the future of NASA. The nation's economy and national security depends on future human space flight, according to the lawmakers.
The NASA House Action Team, co-chaired by Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), most especially want Obama to give NASA a $3 billion annual budget increase, as recommended by the so-called Augustine panel. Obama established the group earlier this year to study the future of Space exploration.
"Congress will continue to fight to maintain America's leadership in space exploration in order to inspire this and future generations to imagine, innovate, and create new science and technology for the 21st century and beyond," Kosmas said in a statement.
The Post's Joel Achenbach recently wrote that the whither-NASA issue was supposed to have been decided already:
Under a new NASA administrator [during the Bush administration], the agency put together the Constellation program, which called for two new rockets, a new crew capsule, a lunar lander and a lunar habitat. Crew and cargo would no longer ride to orbit together in a huge space truck such as the shuttle. Instead, NASA would return to an Apollo-style architecture, with astronauts in a capsule on top of a rocket.
But considering the nation's economic climate and priorities, the plan is a bit too ambitious for some, and President Obama hasn't spoken publicly about NASA in quite awhile. Hence the lawmaker's outreach:
"If we allow a gap in human space flight our nation will have lost valuable skills that will be costly and difficult to replace," their letter said. "In addition, we also will have given up on our hard-won space preeminence over other nations, including Russia and China, who will surely step in to fill the void."
It should come as no surprise that the House NASA coalition's members come from states (Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio and Texas) that house most NASA facilities and factories owned and operated by major Space or defense industry companies. But many would argue they have a valid point: NASA has served as one of the government's leading innovators and as a source of national pride. The Chinese, Russians and others could very well surpass American Space capabilities in the near future. Plus, if you want to discuss the benefits of a math and science education, look no further than NASA, which uses both all day long.
But even still -- is human space flight still worth the hefty price tag?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
• Chat with The Eye!: At 11 a.m. ET during Tuesday's Post Politics Hour.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Obama told his Cabinet on Monday to get a little bit of rest this week, "particularly the people who have been traveling around the globe for day in and day out and don't know what time zone they're in," he said following the meeting. Regardless, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke -- recently back from meetings in Asia -- visits Philadelphia today to promote the 2010 Census. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry told to prepare to testify about Obama's Afghanistan war strategy. Is Ambassador Tim Roemer key to the U.S.-India relationship? We should find out today who's on the Obama's first state dinner guest list.
• FBI announces charges against terror recruiters: The charges include providing financial support to those who sought to fight with al-Shabaab, or "The Youth," which the State Department listed as a terrorist group in early 2008.
• New helos for W.H. may make comeback: The Pentagon could launch another effort to build new presidential helicopters by next spring, the military’s top acquisition chief told reporters Monday.
• FAA to require de-icing systems on commuter planes: The proposed rule would apply to airplanes weighing less than 60,000 pounds at takeoff -- essentially small turboprops and some regional jets.
• 600,000 dropside baby cribs are recalled: They're being voluntarily recalled because of the risk of entrapment and suffocation to infants and toddlers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
• Postal Service employees will receive pay raise in December: The increase is part of a 2006 agreement with unions, which also includes cost-of-living adjustments subject to economic conditions.
• GSA evicting labor officials from Chicago federal building: The local NFFE chapter has occupied space in the basement of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in downtown Chicago for 25 years, but agency officials said they thought the office was vacant and recently found a new tenant.
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