While space industry professionals from around the world are in Huntsville this week for the SpaceOps 2010 conference, 175 people from the greater Huntsville area are in Washington for an annual lobbying visit organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, and atop their agenda is trying to win support to save Constellation from the administration’s plans to cancel it. Sunday evening they got a pep talk from Sen. Richard Shelby, the Huntsvillle Times reports. “If (Republicans) were in control of the Senate, I would tell you exactly what we’d be doing to save Constellation,” he said, reiterating earlier statements that the administration’s strategy is a “death march” for NASA.
Yesterday they got a similar message from staffers for Shelby and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX). “I don’t know how many more blunt objects we have to hit NASA over the head with,” Allen Cutler, on Shelby’s staff, said, according to the Times. He told the story of his daughter, who had been saving money for a trip to Space Camp but after the release of the FY11 budget proposal changed her mind, wondering what the use was “if there aren’t going to be any more astronauts”. Despite plans in the proposal to extend the ISS to 2020 and mount missions to near Earth asteroids, Mars, and other destinations beyond Earth orbit, Cutler said he’s also wondering “what is NASA going to be worth if it isn’t flying astronauts into space?”
Brian Hendricks, on Hutchison’s staff, “expressed ‘profound anger’ at Obama’s decision”, the Times reported. “and he said the ability of the commercial world to achieve what NASA has achieved is ‘circumspect.’”. (One suspects that he said, or meant to say, that he was circumspect about about their abilities.) He added that there is “no support” in Congress for canceling Constellation. A mid-May hearing is planned to bring in “people who best understand spaceflight and NASA” to express their views about the president’s plan, “and I have a real problem calling it a plan because he doesn’t seem to have one.”