The FY12 budget was wrapped up and signed into law on Friday, but there are still some reactions to the bill filtering in. Last week Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) issued a joint statement about the bill, praising elements of the bill that support the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, in particular space technology. (The statement includes a quote from Bobby Braun, the former NASA chief technologist, who says the space technology funding “allows NASA to begin development of a suite of cutting-edge technologies that will accelerate the pace of our future in space while creating high-tech jobs and fueling American innovation at home.”) Rep. LaTourette also hailed the funding for the Space Launch System, which he called “the rocket that was envisioned under the Constellation program”, adding that “one day we will get America back into Space and back to the moon”.
The bipartisan cooperation of Sen. Brown and Rep. LaTourette got the attention, and praise, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in an editorial Monday. “The fact that Brown is a Democrat and LaTourette a Republican ought to underscore both the value of bipartisan cooperation and the fact that shoring up NASA Glenn is a goal that transcends party labels,” it notes.
An editorial Sunday in the Orlando Sentinel is more pessimistic because of the reduced funding for NASA’s commercial crew efforts. “Now it’s the Russians who can celebrate,” it states, noting that the reduced funding it likely to delay the development of such systems and thus lengthen the time the US is reliant on Russian vehicles to access the ISS. “It’s penny wise and ruble foolish for Congress to extend such dependency by starving funding for shuttle successors.”
The editorial did see a bright side to the bill in the form of $484 million for KSC facility upgrades, something also cited by Florida Today columnist John Kelly on Sunday. He also points out the reduced commercial crew funding as well as the funding for the “boondoggle” James Webb Space Telescope. On JWST, he argues, “Congress missed an opportunity here to finally take a stand on NASA’s inability and apparent unwillingness to reform how it plans and runs big projects.”