We don’t know any more details about the NASA FY2011 budget proposal, or its planned changes to NASA’s human spaceflight program, than we did a couple days ago, when unnamed officials offered some details about the plan. That hasn’t stopped, though, some people, including some members of Congress, from weighing in with varying degrees of rhetorical flourishes. Take, for example, these comments from Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) to the Ogden Standard-Examiner about what has been reported:
“With this administration, their specific effort is to cut the crap out of the defense program, and what we’re hearing from Florida is that (the NASA cut) will be an item in Monday’s budget,” Bishop said.
“Obviously, I don’t agree this is the right direction. They’ll basically be gutting our space program and coming up with a commercial alternative. It will be devastating.”
Strong stuff, but that’s nothing compared to the invective from one blogger on Blogcritics.org. (Go ahead and read the first paragraph. See?) Or there are the comments by Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt on Friday in a speech in Ocala, Florida:
“If it is a commercial effort only to visit the space station, then it is the beginning of the end of human space exploration,” he said.
“Ultimately, you abandon the moon to China, you abandon the space station to Russia, and you abandon liberty to the ages.
“If China and Russia are the dominant space powers, then liberty is at risk because they don’t believe in it.”
So right now, we’re long (really long) on outrage, but short on insight on the exact details of the plan. We could wait until Monday (3 pm EST press conference at NASA Headquarters) to see exactly what is in the plan and base our reactions on that, but where’s the fun in that?
A couple other items of interest:
As you might expect from previous statements, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) isn’t enthused about the apparent reliance on commercial providers. “China, India, and Russia will be putting humans in space while we wait on commercial hobbyists to actually back up their grand promises,” he told Space News, calling the proposed investment in commercial crew transportation “a welfare program for amateur rocket companies”.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) wanted development of a heavy-lift rocket, he tells Florida Today, warning that investing in commercial providers would delay development of a heavy-lift booster “well into the next decade, and that just means we get behind China and Russia.”