Last night, Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) addressed misinformation surrounding the President’s cuts to NASA’s manned space program and specifically the Constellation program and Ares rocket in remarks given on the floor of the House of Representatives.
“I have read some of the comments that have been made in the past saying ‘you’re a conservative. NASA is saying in this new budget that they want to commercialize and privatize the program. Why aren’t you supporting that?’ And I have to admit that I think it comes down to an issue of semantics. When I think of privatization I make three assumptions, it will cost the taxpayer less money, there will be a smaller government force in use and there will be a better product. And I think as the gentleman from Texas would agree with me, this plan that NASA has put forward doesn’t do any of those. indeed, it costs more for the NASA budget and increases the cost that taxpayer will be spending on NASA, there will be no federal jobs eliminated, only private sector jobs, to the tune of 30,000 jobs nationwide of scientists, engineers, those kinds of jobs we don’t want to lose and we are trying to encourage young students to go into. And there is not a better product. As the gentleman from Texas said it was ironic the other day, the Constellation program passed their preliminary design review, which means after extensive engineering and technical checks, they passed everything. There is nothing technically wrong with Constellation. It is ready to go forward. Ironically enough, on that very same day, one of the alternatives the NASA administration would like us to fund was having a test on their engine and it was a total failure. Ironically, NASA didn’t publicize either of those events- the engine failure or the complete success- in the preliminary design review of Constellation. So let me just spend a moment and talk about these commercial startup enterprises that NASA administrators are telling us they want to transfer all American taxpayer monies into ‘going in this direction’…”
“We talk a lot about the industrial base, a term not a lot of people understand. As I define the industrial base, I simply want to say that the kinds of people, the kinds of jobs… that put a man on a rocket and shoot him to the moon are the same kinds of people and the same kinds of jobs that build our missile defense against those who wish to attack this country. That is our industrial base. Last year, this country engaged in some significant, and I think unwise, decreases in our military missile defense system and it had the effect of putting our industrial base in disarray. However, if now NASA goes through with this, I think unwise and naive approach of canceling constellation, it’s going to destroy that industrial base, which means you will no longer… — not only will you not have the ability of putting man in space quickly with a program that works… if indeed our projections of…countries like North Korea and Iran are underestimated, we will have no capacity to ramp up for a missile defense future. Now what that simply means is that the Pentagon has recognized this, last year, in three different reports that came to us. In April of last year, the Defense Department report on the Solid Rocket Motor industrial base, said if there was a delay in Constellation it would have a negative impact on our defense system, the next month after that, there was another report…this time the Solid Rocket Motor Capabilities report to Congress in June had a different conclusion, if there was a delay in constellation there would be a SIGNIFICANT negative impact…”