Sen. Martinez to resign

According to news reports, Mel Martinez will announce today plans to resign later this month from the US Senate. Martinez, a Florida Republican, has previously announced plans not to seek re-election in 2010, but his decision to step down this month for “personal reasons” took many by surprise. He has not been that active on space issues despite hailing from Florida (particularly when compared to Florida’s other senator, Bill Nelson), but has spoken out on the topic from time to time, such as an event on Capitol Hill last summer on the need to shorten the Shuttle-Constellation gap and, during the presidential campaign last fall, called Republican candidate and fellow senator John McCain the best friend of the space program. Just last week Sen. Martinez provided remarks to the Augustine committee during its public hearing in Cocoa Beach, Florida. In that speech he said the shuttle program should not be extended beyond its current manifest, warned that “changing requirements and moving to a different architecture” for Constellation would “increase costs and likely delay the successful launch of our next heavy lift launch vehicle”, and endorsed human missions to the Moon, Mars, and “other near-earth objects”.

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