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Kendrick Meek

On

Obama Plan Unacceptable

Written by Kendrick Meek - February 12, 2010

Candidate for Florida Senator Kendrick MeekThe Apollo missions to the space shuttle Endeavour’s scheduled launch today, spaceflight has inspired generations of young Americans to advance human understanding of the universe around them.
In the 20th century, the space program created thousands of Florida jobs. Through the Kennedy Space Center, Florida became a global center for technological advancement and discovery. A decade into this new century, we must continue exploring new frontiers in space and keep our nation competitive.

The Obama administration must renew NASA’s commitment to spaceflight and human space exploration in words and actions.

In October, the administration’s Augustine Commission completed its review of NASA’s human spaceflight plans. It concluded the space program was on “an unsustainable trajectory.” The commission showed that NASA was underfunded and advocated a long-term shift to commercial spaceflight.

In the short term, the panel proposed increasing government support for NASA spaceflights, a change that could have created thousands of new high-paying Florida jobs.

But the administration did not follow its own advice.

Instead, it released a 2011 NASA budget last week that places unrealistic expectations on manned commercial spaceflight, eliminates the Constellation moon program and its Ares 1 rocket, and fails to provide the resources necessary to implement NASA’s space priorities.

Most troubling of all, the new NASA budget would finalize the loss of thousands of high-paying Florida jobs at a time when Florida families are already struggling.

Establishing commercial spaceflights is critical to maintaining our nation’s leadership in space, but we cannot rely on private expeditions to take the place of NASA-administered spaceflights just yet. It will take decades to build a safe and functioning commercial program.

The administration’s reliance on private spaceflight comes with no timeline and risks delaying meaningful human exploration by decades. Expanding commercial spaceflight is a laudable long-term strategy, not a workable short-term solution.

Although the budget boosts NASA funding by $6 billion over five years, it is only a drop in the bucket to what NASA’s priorities require.

Maintaining our nation’s competitive edge in manned spaceflights is critical to our security and prosperity. We cannot afford to cede our role as a space innovator and leader to Russia and China.

Most importantly, thousands of Florida jobs — including more than 7,000 that depend on manned NASA missions — hinge on a rejuvenated spaceflight program. The fact that we would potentially lose our sharpest minds to China or India because these experts cannot find a job at home would be a major loss for our country.

Losing thousands of Florida jobs is simply unacceptable. As your next United States senator, I will continue fighting to support NASA and the Florida economy.

 
 

 


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