Obama NASA Plan Comes Under Heavy Fire in House

Eli is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine.

Following a shellacking in the Senate 2 weeks ago, NASA brass pitching President Barack Obama's plan to reorient the U.S. space program took it on the chin from former astronauts again today at a House of Representatives science committee hearing, led by Chair Bart Gordon (D–TN). From the panel's press release:

While various new initiatives and goals are being offered as justifications for the Administration's proposed human spaceflight program, the budgetary constraints NASA is facing make it critically important for Congress to determine whether the proposed plan is executable, well defined, and worth doing. Members and witnesses evaluated the merits and workability of this new plan as they highlighted the unanswered questions that remain on various aspects of the proposal.

"The plan that has been sent over to Congress has a great many loose ends and unexamined assumptions that call its credibility into question," stated Gordon.

A more detailed attack on the NASA plans came from the panel's Republicans, led by Representative Ralph Hall (R–TX).

From their press release:

Discussing his strong concerns with the President's proposal, Mr. Thomas Young, former CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., said "A fundamental flaw in the proposed human spaceflight program is a commercial crew initiative which abandons the proven methodology I have described. NASA's role is reduced to defining safety requirements and general oversight." Young concluded that "Commercial crew is a risk too high, not a responsible course and should not be approved."

Hall agreed, saying "In the absence of a defensible, credible plan, I and many of our members continue to support the Constellation program as currently authorized and appropriated by successive Congresses."

Posted in Space, Policy