Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) got some attention late last week when he criticized the White House staff on a number of issues, including space. Nelson’s speech came a day after he reportedly “lit into” President Obama in a Senate caucus session. However, Nelson’s NASA-specific complaint, the “misconception that Obama wants to eliminate the manned space program”, as the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun reported, isn’t new: Nelson has made that statement on a number of occasions this year, as far back as mid-February, only a couple weeks after the White House released its FY11 budget proposal.
Members of New York’s congressional delegation are also expressing their concerns about NASA, but on a very different subject: where the shuttle orbiters will go once the fleet is retired next year. According to the New York Daily News, members are concerned that as Texas members of Congress take leadership positions, prospects dim that the Intrepid museum in New York City will get an orbiter. But while the article claims that New York’s odds “got way longer in an uphill fight with Texas”, Congress may not have much influence on the decision, which rests in the hands of NASA as it currently stands. Language inserted into the NASA authorization bill this summer actually improves New York’s chances, since it requests that NASA give preference to awarding orbiters to locations “with an historical relationship with either the launch, flight operations, or processing of the Space Shuttle orbiters or the retrieval of NASA manned space vehicles, or significant contributions to human space flight”; the Intrepid was involved in the recovery of Mercury-Atlas 7 and Gemini 3.