Congress, NASA, White House

Olson: “willing to work” with the White House on NASA

Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX), who has expressed his strong opposition to the administration’s new plan for NASA, said Thursday he would be willing to talk with the White House to fashion some kind of compromise. “I just want the opportunity to sit down and talk with the administration and work though some of the things,” he said at a Space Transportation Association breakfast on Capitol Hill. “I’m willing to work with the administration to come up with some compromises and to come up with some deadlines: a goal and a timeframe to achieve it.”

Olson said he agreed with what President Obama said in his speech at the Kennedy Space Center last week about space exploration being a necessity for the county, not a luxury. “I just disagree with him on the pathway to ensure that the future is sustainable, achievable, and desirable.”

A couple specific areas of disagreement that Olson identified in his talk were heavy lift launch vehicle development and Orion. “I don’t understand why we don’t put energy and resources into developing a heavy lift rocket now,” he said. “Based on what we learned from the Constellation program, there’s no need, no need, to wait to 2015 to make that decision.” On Orion, he said that while he was relieved that it was given “somewhat of a reprieve”, he said it can do much more than just be a crew return vehicle for the ISS. “It’s much more capable than a lifeboat.”

He also reiterated previous requests by him and other Houston-area members of Congress for the President to visit JSC. “I’d love to have him come out to the Johnson Space Center so he could spend just an hour and a half, going around and seeing what investment our country has made and just the unbelievable professionalism, dedication, and knowledge of the people who work in those buildings.”

Olson, the ranking member of the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee, said the committee was still working on a NASA authorization bill, with a goal set by the full committee’s chairman, Bart Gordon, of getting the bill through the committee by Memorial Day. “It’s important, more important than ever, that we hit that goal,” he said. He said he’ll seek language in the bill to preserve Constellation. “I believe Constellation is the best course to get us out of low Earth orbit. That’s my big picture goal.”

“This is a pivot point, and if don’t pivot the right way, we may never be able to turn back,” he said of the agency’s current situation. “We’ll become a nation of wanderers, not explorers.”

9 comments to Olson: “willing to work” with the White House on NASA

  • red

    ““I’m willing to work with the administration to come up with some compromises and to come up with some deadlines: a goal and a timeframe to achieve it.”

    I thought we already had multiple goals and deadlines in the 2011 budget. Didn’t Obama just add even more goals and deadlines in the speech (i.e. the initial beyond-LEO test flights, initial asteroid visit, initial Mars orbit visit, and Mars surface deadlines)?

    “A couple specific areas of disagreement that Olson identified in his talk were heavy lift launch vehicle development and Orion.”

    Here’s my compromise. Keep in mind that a big HLV and the original Orion are not affordable – they would devestate NASA Science, sink the ISS, prevent the revival of NASA technology development, crush U.S. commercial space, etc, just as surely as Ares I/Orion would.

    So … my compromise in the HLV and Orion fields is:

    - EELV Phase I HLV, on a regular development program (even if it doesn’t make sense because we don’t need it yet … hey, it’s a compromise, so it doesn’t have to be ideal). We can always go to Phase II or Phase III which we’ll probably never need, or bring in a U.S. version of RD-180, as future options.

    - Orion super-lite CRV, with the possibility of commercial entry of an Orion variant in the commercial crew program, and Orion super-lite feeding into the beyond-LEO spacecraft, should one start development in a few years

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  • ““I’d love to have him come out to the Johnson Space Center so he could spend just an hour and a half, going around and seeing what investment our country has made and just the unbelievable professionalism, dedication, and knowledge of the people who work in those buildings.””

    I’m sure the president would be glad to. Now will Olson go to visit Hawthorne, Mojave, or Virginia to see the investment our private industry has made and the unbelievable professionalism, dedication, and knowledge of the people who work in those buildings? I think we all know the answer to that one.

    I disagree that Constellation is in any form the best way forward, but I really credit Olson for skipping the chicken little rhetoric and explaining his objections instead of inciting baseless panic at the perceived doom of our space program. Frankly he sounds like a legislator. If Obama makes any significant changes, which I believe is unlikely, it’ll be because of folks like Olson and not Shelby. The one piece I agree on is HLV development, though I really hope they pick something more reasonable that a 25% increase in lift over the biggest rocket that has ever flown. We may need big, but not that big.

  • Major Tom

    Olson’s STA statement is delusional. He’s a first-term representative with no seniority and no chairmanships from the minority party. If the White House felt the need to compromise with Congress on anything, why would they waste their time talking to him?

    Goofy…

  • We need to build a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle right now. So President Obama needs to really stop playing games with the HLV.

    If we really wants to develop a heavy lift vehicle then we should fund it and build it– immediately. But if Obama really doesn’t want an HLV, then the president should just come out and say so– just like he said he doesn’t want us to return to the Moon.

    Just be honest!

  • amightywind

    Marcel F. Williams wrote

    “We need to build a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle right now. So President Obama needs to really stop playing games with the HLV.”

    I used to get wrapped up in the Ares vs. Direct debate. (I was an Ares proponent) But Obama’s program is so feckless and nutty I’d take either instead of a decade of nothing. For once I agree with you. Obama’s main aversion to an HLV is that it might hurt some feelings in other countries.

    As for Olson, he’d be better off to show some guts and not to compromise. Still too many RINOs around. They’ll never learn.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Olson’s statement is sadly becoming characteristic of Pete’s descent into the abyss of not being a good congressman.

    There is no reason for Obama to negotiate with “Pete”. If he does then the POTUS is lowering himself to the whims of a first terms congressman…and would then be forced to “negotiate” with every Tom, Jane and Dick who has anything space in their district.

    Sadly Olson could have played a role (I support Obama’s plan) in formulating a coherent opposition and then trying to get some group which would support it, but instead he is doing this rather childish effort.

    Robert G. Oler

  • Al Fansome

    OLSON: “I’d love to have him come out to the Johnson Space Center so he could spend just an hour and a half, going around and seeing what investment our country has made and just the unbelievable professionalism, dedication, and knowledge of the people who work in those buildings.”

    Rep. Olson is playing with words.

    The previous President, G.W. Bush, did not visit JSC ever. Not as President.

    Not even as Governor of Texas.

    This speech by Olson is all a joke.

    What I don’t get is why the Space Transportation Association (STA) would be party to this mockery. STA is part of the joke.

    Danny Graham and Tom Rogers must be turning over in their graves. The current STA leadership should be ashamed.

    FWIW,

    – Al

  • @ Marcel Williams…..You are right on the money! The Aries 5 should just be built and properly funded as America’s next heavy-lift rocket! Why squander yet another half-decade only to research what might later still, be built?? Flexible Path is a horrible farce!! NASA needs to do the Lunar Return so that we can eventually emplace base modules and begin with resource utilization. Constellation would’ve started with sortie missions, which still would’ve been longer and more ambitious than those of the Apollo years (1968-1972); but after a little of that, would have moved on to outpost missions, graduating to a surface manned presence, that would ready us for ANY potential future jaunts elsewhere. Remember that the Lunar surface resembles the vacuum conditions found in interplanetary space. Maintaining a crew there alive for any length of time, prepares us technologically to later go to Mars, asteroids, or anywhere else.

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