When Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) wrote a letter to House leadership last week asking for an extra $2 billion for NASA in the latest stimulus bill, it appeared that she was advocating that the money be used primarily, if not exclusively, for accelerating Constellation. “This infusion of funds will accelerate the Constellation program, which will create new infrastructure and high-tech jobs and minimize our dependence on Russia during the impending space flight gap,” she wrote in the letter, making no explicit mention of extending the shuttle beyond 2010.
However, in an op-ed in Friday’s Orlando Sentinel, she takes a different stance in her call for that extra $2 billion. “Increasing funding for NASA in the recovery package will allow for the extension of our shuttle program and the acceleration of the Constellation program,” she writes. “Minimizing the spaceflight gap will ensure that taxpayer dollars, which would otherwise go to foreign countries to ferry our cargo and astronauts to space, will stay in the United States and drive our economy.” Given that NASA estimates it would cost $3 billion a year to keep the shuttle program going at even a minimal level after 2010, that $2 billion wouldn’t go very far in minimizing the gap.