Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) became the second member of Congress to speak out against NASA administrator Charles Bolden’s upcoming trip to China. In a letter to President Obama this week Culberson said he has “grave concerns about the nature and goals of China’s space program” and thus believes that there should be no cooperation between NASA and the Chinese space agency CNSA without the approval of Congress. “I do not believe it is appropriate for the Administrator to meet with any Chinese officials until Congress is fully briefed on the nature and scope of Mr. Bolden’s trip and planned discussions on cooperation.” Last week Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) expressed his own concerns about the China trip. Bolden, in a letter in response to Wolf, said that the trip “is intended to be introductory in nature and will not include consideration of any specific proposals for human space flight cooperation” or other new ventures.
Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate for Senate in Florida, met with Republican officials on the Space Coast Tuesday to discuss space policy issues. However, the Orlando Sentinel alleges that Rubio got some questionable advice from attendees, who put the blame for many of NASA’s current problems with the Obama Administration, even for those issues such as the post-Shuttle gap that have their roots in the Bush Administration. After the meeting Rubio, the current frontrunner in the three-man race, told the Sentinel that he believed NASA didn’t have a larger budget “because you don’t have fiscal discipline” in the overall federal budget. “If you had fiscal discipline then the federal government would be forced to focus on the issues [like space] that are important and that matter to our country.” (That assumes that other members of Congress would consider NASA an important issue, though.) He added that he believed that “the biggest overriding problem we have is that this administration failed to outline a compelling, long-term vision and goal for the program.”