In an op-ed published today in the Orlando Sentinel, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) worries about the future of NASA’s human spaceflight efforts under the current administration. “The president’s space policy is jeopardizing America’s longstanding commitment to manned space exploration,” he claims, citing the administration’s efforts to cancel Constellation (which was “our most reliable path to low-earth orbit,” he argues). In addition, he is not convinced the administration is serious about supporting the Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle included in last year’s NASA authorization act, noting that the administration requested $1.2 billion less for them in its 2012 budget proposal than what was authorized last year.
“[B]y not having our own capabilities to transport Americans into space, our reliance on foreign countries for manned space exploration will jeopardize many of the national security functions that have made NASA’s work so vital,” he adds, although what exactly those “national security functions” that NASA performs are not specified. But what about the role of US-based commercial providers to ferry astronauts to and from LEO? Rubio is silent on the subject, curiously: he makes no mention of NASA’s commercial crew efforts, either positive or negative, even though they have the potential to end NASA’s reliance on Russia for crew transport sooner than the SLS and MPCV.