Nelson: Manned space program hasn’t been killed

Senator Bill Nelson Questions OMB Orzak over NASA Budget

Uh oh, Nelson’s doing his political dance again. Now Bill Nelson’s for the Obama changes to Constellation that he was earlier against. And so goes the Potomac two-step.

For example, on January 28th, Bill Nelson released a statement:

Based on initial reports about the administration’s plan for NASA, they are replacing lost shuttle jobs in Florida too slowly, risking U.S. leadership in space to China and Russia, and relying too heavily on unproven commercial companies.

If the $6 billion in extra funding is for a commercial rocket, then the bigger rocket for human exploration will be delayed well into the next decade. That is unacceptable.

We need a plan that provides America with uninterrupted access to space while also funding exploration to expand the boundaries of our knowledge.

An unusually bold statement from Senator Nelson. Unfortunately, Senator Nelson is now singing a far more…well, let’s call it, nuanced tune.

…[the White House] said they are canceling the Constellation program. That sounds like they were canceling the manned (spaceflight) program, when in the same breath he said we’re doing the research and development for a heavy lift vehicle, and they were putting all their eggs in the same basket of getting to the space station with the commercial boys.

The White House has given the perception that the manned space program has been killed, when, in fact it hasn’t. And I can tell you that we’re not going to let it die. That’s not the president’s intention.

Research and development from the Ares I rocket and Orion crew vehicle programs will be carried forward to the next manned space vehicle.

I don’t know they were quite sure about what they were going to save out of Constellation, but we’re going to help them.

It’s difficult to tell if Senator Nelson is simply trying to help the White House out of a self-induced train wreck, or he could be telling the White House that he and Congress will design the human space program, thank you very much. Only time will tell.

In any case, Florida Today’s Patrick Peterson’s article is a good read.

(Via Florida Today.)

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