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Chairman Gordon Responds To The Laureates

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Last week, we carried the news that several Nobel laureates had written a letter to House Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon to express their support for the President’s proposed changes to the nation’s human space flight program and to state their opposition to the Committee’s bill that would largely ignore those proposals. If the laureates were expecting a contrite response, Chairman Gordon did not oblige.

Instead, the Chairman’s 4 page letter to Stanford Professor Scott Hubbard strongly defends the Committee’s actions while taking the Administration to task for some of the assumptions that formed the basis of its human space flight proposal and for not revealing costs behind its proposals. As Chairman Gordon noted,

“In February, the president’s budget request proposed several initiatives for NASA in the coming years, many of which the Committee fully supports. At the same time, we had questions and concerns about the human space flight proposals, specifically the structure of the program and the full costs of the program. After months of requesting further clarification it became clear that no such explanations would be available. Reluctantly, the Committee came to the conclusion that the president’s new human space flight program, much like the current Constellation program, was unexecutable under the current budget projections and the other NASA priorities we all agree must be addressed. This conclusion was not reached in haste and was based upon several months of hearing from expert witnesses. Moreover, the Committee received a letter (attached) earlier this year by the Aerospace Corporation in response to questions submitted by Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords that raised concerns about the assumptions made to justify the president’s budget request.”

There’s much more in the letter that provides a good bit of insight into the House Science & Technology Committee’s Bill that makes it required reading for anyone interested in the future of our nation’s human space flight efforts.

Written by Jim Hillhouse

Jim Hillhouse earned a BA in History and a BSE and MSE in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, with his Master’s work focused on mission planning and orbital mechanics. Jim Hillhouse worked as an undergraduate and graduate assistant to Dr. Robert Bishop’s GNC group at the Center for Space Research, a programmer at JPL’s Navigation Section, and as the McCain 2008 campaign’s Space Industry Coordinator on the Space Coast during the 2008 Presidential Campaign.

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